Engage in vigorous exercise most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. ďVigorousĒ means that most of the time, youíre too out of breath to speak more than a few words. If exercising in the evening makes it hard for you to get to sleep, do your workout in the morning or afternoon.
4. Create a restful bedroom.
Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep. It should be dark, quiet, cool, and uncluttered. We spend so much time in our bedrooms that we tend to overlook the simple changes that could help us get more sleep, such as hanging thicker curtains to block out light, or moving the bed away from a noisy window.
5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
The moment you get into bed, you want to have a feeling of rest and relaxation that invites sleep. But if you engage in brain-stimulating activities in the bedroom, such as watching TV, sending e-mails, or talking on the phone, you become conditioned to associate your bed with energy and alertness, and that interferes with sleep.
6. Learn how to relax your body and quiet your mind.
Simple relaxation techniques like slow abdominal breathing, progressive relaxation, or guided imagery allow your body to release tension and your mind to settle down so you can ease into sleep. If itís worry and anxiety that keep your mind from settling down, keep a notebook by your bed and jot down your concerns (and any possible solutions) before you turn out the light. The act of recording your worries so you can tackle them later helps you feel more in control.
7. Donít worry about falling sleep!
While this might sound like the ultimate catch-22 for someone struggling to sleep, this may be the most overlooked tactic of all. The truth is, you can lessen the struggle by changing the way you think about sleep. Instead of thinking, Iíll never get to sleep. Iíll be a wreck tomorrow, say to yourself, Eventually, Iíll get to sleep. Even if I donít get a full nightís sleep, Iíll be able to function tomorrow. I always do. Try turning your alarm clock to the side so you wonít be constantly confronted with how late it is.
Jeff Rossman, PhD, is a Rodale.com advisor, and director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA. His column, Mind-Body-Mood Booster, appears most weeks on Rodale.com.