While healthy sleep habits are the cornerstone of good sleep, sometimes you need a quick fix. This module will focus on in-the-moment strategies to help you drift off when you’re staring at your ceiling in the middle of the night.
While these strategies can help you to relax, you may also wish to discuss sleep issues with campus Counselling and Health Services.
If you’re lying in bed, struggling to fall asleep, your body may become very tense. Progressive muscle relaxation can help you to sleep by relieving this tension. Plus, it keeps your mind busy, distracting you from any stressful thoughts.
To try out this technique, follow these steps:
This video will guide you through a 7-minute progressive muscle relaxation exercise. You can also download the 7-minute progressive muscle relaxation exercise transcript.
If you’re feeling anxious as you try to sleep, breathing can help. Just the act of focusing on your breath can help you to relax your mind, and deep breathing can stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you down.
While there are a number of breathing techniques to relax you, one strategy is called belly breathing. To do belly breathing:
This video will guide you through a few minutes of belly breathing. You can also download the Guided Belly Breathing video transcript.
Invented by cognitive scientist Dr. Luc Beaudoin, this strategy keeps your mind too busy to think about the things that might stress you out, but not so busy that you’re kept wide awake. In fact, this low level of mental activity can lull you into sleep.
To do the cognitive shuffle:
While it’s tempting to stare at the clock and calculate how many hours are left until your alarm goes off, this stress can make you even less likely to fall asleep. So if you’re still awake after lying in bed for 20 minutes, get up.
Go into another room, keep the lights low, and do something to relax yourself. For example:
Avoid looking at the clock, and just enjoy what you’re doing. When you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed and try to fall asleep. If you’re still awake after 10 minutes, consider getting out of bed again.