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When you can't sleep, your thoughts can be your worst enemy. In this episode, we explain five key strategies to help break the spiral, based on what many believe is the most effective treatment out there: cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I.
Here's what to remember:
- Log your sleep time to get a reality check on how much you're actually sleeping.
- Write down your anxious thoughts; then replace them with more rational ones.
- Restrict the amount of time you spend in bed based on information from your sleep log.
- Find a relaxation technique.
- Make it a rule: The bedroom is only for sleep (and sex); no electronic devices, no lying in bed, ruminating.
From mediation to melatonin to putting on a pair of socks, we all have routines to help us reach that blissful state of slumber. These are the ones that work:
- Forget sheep. Instead, use mental imagery — picturing a walk in the woods or a stroll on a beach — to help relax.
- Relaxation and meditation apps can help you unwind.
- Melatonin supplements might ease your way into sleep, but too much melatonin could disrupt it.
- Over-the-counter sleep medications may knock you out, but they won't result in effective sleep.
- If young kids wake you in the wee hours, don't react in a way that increases their stress — but do find strategies that make it no fun to be up.
- Sleep rituals are personal. If you believe in yours, that might be all you need.
From the moment you wake up, your body starts to prepare for sleep. We show you how to adjust your daytime habits to get the best possible night of rest.
Here's what to remember:
- Start the day with natural light — from an east-facing window, or even better, go outside — to put the brakes on melatonin.
- Cut the caffeine off by late morning. Even if it doesn't keep you up, caffeine impacts how much deep sleep you're getting.
- Get moving during the day. Exercise can increase the quantity and quality of your sleep.
- Avoid the nightcap. Alcohol makes you feel sleepy but disrupts deep sleep.
- Ban the smartphone and TV from the bedroom. Too stimulating, when you should be letting go.
Sleep doesn't always come easy. This guide explains the science behind sleep and gives you the tools and techniques to help you drift off into dreamland.