Four Ways to Get Better Sleep

Harvard researchers want you to sleep better using these tips.

Is this you every morning? Try these tips for better sleep. Photo via Shutterstock.

Is this you every morning? Try these tips for better sleep. Photo via Shutterstock.

You don’t have to have insomnia to suffer from poor sleep. In fact, poor sleep can actually be a wake-up call (sorry, had to) for a host of other problems. Simply put, people with insomnia struggle to get a good night’s rest. They struggle to fall asleep, struggle to stay asleep, awaken during the night, or have a combination of all of these things.

According to research from Harvard, nearly half of insomnia cases stem from psychological or emotional issues. Stressful events, mild depression, or an anxiety disorder can make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. In many cases, once the underlying cause is treated, the insomnia improves.

Harvard Health Publications suggests these simple behavior changes in order to get better sleep. Here are the four techniques:

Sleep restriction. Spending a lot of time in bed hoping to fall asleep can actually can hinder the process. In reality, the less time you spend in bed, the more chance you have for restful sleep.

Reconditioning. A few simple steps can help people with insomnia associate the bedroom with sleep rather than sleeplessness and frustration. For example, use the bed only for sleeping or sex and go to bed only when you’re sleepy. If you’re unable to sleep, move to another room and do something relaxing. Stay up until you feel sleepy, and then return to bed. If sleep does not follow quickly, repeat all the steps.

Relaxation techniques. A racing or worried mind will help put off sleep. Sometimes, physical tension can be to blame. Techniques to quiet a racing mind such as meditation, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback (which is using your mind to control your body) can help.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT for insomnia aims to change the negative thoughts and beliefs about sleep into positive ones. People with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with the idea of sleep and then start to stress about what will happen in the morning with a lack of sleep. This worry makes relaxing and falling asleep nearly impossible. This therapy is about setting realistic goals and learning to let go of inaccurate thoughts that can interfere with sleep.