Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? We suggest getting more sleep in 2018!
Nearly one out of five people sometimes have trouble with insomnia. It is often difficult to say why someone is sleeping poorly. Using relaxation techniques and changing sleeping habits can help you fall asleep faster and get more restful sleep.
The aim of relaxation techniques is to achieve physical and mental relaxation. They are meant to reduce physical tension and interrupt the thought processes that are affecting sleep. Studies show that people who have learned relaxation techniques sleep a bit longer at night. The main benefit of the relaxation techniques was being able to fall asleep somewhat more quickly. But these approaches don’t help everyone.
There are different types of relaxation techniques:
- Progressive muscle relaxation, also called Jacobson’s or deep muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing groups of muscles all over the body one by one and then consciously relaxing them again. You can learn muscle relaxation by visiting a course or using an audio training course.
- Autogenic training (AT): Autogenic training involves focusing awareness on different parts of the body and consciously relaxing them. At an advanced level, even involuntary bodily functions like pulse and breathing can be influenced to achieve deep physical relaxation. Autogenic training is taught in courses.
- Biofeedback: This method helps you to feel how your body reacts to tensing and relaxing. It involves placing electrodes on your body to measure muscle tension, your pulse and brain activity. You can monitor these different measurements on a screen and see how muscle relaxation or thinking particular thoughts affects them. Biofeedback can be done at the doctor’s or by using a portable biofeedback device at home once you’ve been instructed in how to use it.
- Imagery (visualizations): Another common type of relaxation training is imagery, where you visualize peaceful, pleasant scenes or imagine yourself breathing quietly, gently falling asleep and having a good night’s sleep.
Studies suggest that changing your sleeping habits can help improve the quality of your sleep. People who had been instructed about sleep habits slept more peacefully and didn’t wake up as often. There are courses that teach you about how you can change your sleeping habits. In these studies a typical course lasted four weeks with one session per week.
There are many different things you can do to change your sleeping habits. Here we list some of the more common ones. But it is difficult to tell from the research which of them are most likely to work.
The following set of “sleep hygiene” habits can have a positive effect:
- Not drinking alcohol, coffee or tea and avoiding other stimulants four to six hours before going to bed.
- Avoiding smoking before bedtime or during the night.
- Avoiding heavy meals and spicy foods before going to bed.
- Getting more physical exercise during the day, but avoiding exercise right before going to bed.
- Trying to make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and not too hot or cold.
A Community News blog post
West Toronto Support Services writes articles about events and news in the community that closely align with our agencies mission of living independently and promoting your health & wellness. Articles posted under community news don’t necessarily mean we directly endorse them – they are articles of interest that you can pursue further. We believe a healthy community is a diverse and connected community!
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