Sleep Ritual Advice and Self-Help Tips

Written by Lauren Long

Advice on setting a ritual to get a successful night's sleep. It will work like clock work!

If you suspect stress is robbing you of deep sleep, you're probably right. Stress upsets the levels of brain chemicals necessary for restorative zzzs. Meditation and other stress management techniques may help you get a better night's sleep. 

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One such technique is to establish a "sleep ritual," says Sonia Ancoli-Israel, Ph.D., of the University of California. A sleep ritual can help to decrease stress by allowing you time to relax after the day's activities. It also provides physical cues to your body that it is time to unwind.

As part of your sleep ritual, consider these three steps: 

1. Set aside "worry time" during the day so you don't go to bed with unresolved issues. Take 20 to 30 minutes to sit quietly and contemplate your concerns. It will help you to feel as if you have already focused on your problems and gotten it out of your system, says Ancoli-Israel.

2. Meditate before bed to clear your mind. One technique is to focus on your breathing. Breathe deeply and count each breath. 

3. Don't exercise or work on the computer right before bed. Put aside any work. Avoid computers or even watching television, especially the late news. Read, knit or listen to soothing music instead.

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