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From Racing Mind to Restful Night: Six Steps for Getting the Sleep You Need

Life in today’s hectic world requires us to run at top speed. When bedtime comes, it can seem impossible to still our racing minds.   

From Daylight to Dusk, Some Strategies for Getting Your Zzz’s

1. Give sleep the same respect you give your job by setting a sleep schedule.

Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day and night helps us stay in sync with our bodies’ circadian rhythms.

2. During the day, make a to do list with an action plan.

Concerns loom larger as we toss and turn at night. Take away their power by writing these down during the day.  For each anxiety, write a short action plan to resolve the issue. When a worry pops up as you are preparing to sleep, tell yourself, “I’m dealing with that.”

3. Change your eating and drinking habits and take note of side effects of medications.

While you may relish your latte or a glass of Merlot, realize that caffeine and alcohol are not your allies when it comes to sleep. Pay attention to your current meds, too.  Talk to your doctor about an alternative if your current prescription keeps you up.

4. Wind down before bed with a quiet pre-sleep ritual.

Our bodies crave routine. Once established, your pattern of reading a book or taking a warm bath before bedtime signals your brain to begin relaxing. Stay away from screens and social media which stimulate your mind rather than priming it for sleep.

5. Transform your bedroom into a comfortable cocoon.

Make your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary: a quiet, dark place with a moderate temperature.

6. Try relaxation techniques.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation focuses on tensing one muscle group at a time, followed by muscle release for full body relaxation.
  • Deep rhythmic breathing takes your attention away from worries, brings your focus to your breath.  Many methods are available, including the simple “three-part breathing exercise:” 1. Inhale long and deep. 2. Fully exhale. 3. After inhaling and exhaling a few times, slow your exhale to twice the length of your inhale.
  • Try guided imagery:  Center your mind on a relaxing scene, moment or story. For instance, imagine yourself sitting at the edge of a sunny lake. If your mind wanders, return your thoughts to the image.

Sleep is essential to our good health, happiness and productivity. Make sure you get a good night’s rest!