Help Me Fix It: Dr. Richard Besser Takes on Insomnia

"Initially you may get less sleep, but setting your alarm for the same time every day will help ensure you are tired at night," Besser said.

Remain Passively Awake

It may sound counter-intuitive, but the Mayo Clinic suggests you can alleviate anxiety about not sleeping by simply not making any effort to fall asleep.

Stimulus Control

The stimulus control method helps you control what your bed means to you and can help you get rid of any negative associations you may have with it. Use the bed only for sleeping and intimacy and ditch the television and other distractions.

Sleep Hygiene

This part of the therapy involves tempering or eliminating lifestyle habits that could interfere with sleep like smoking or drinking too much coffee or alcohol. It also involves a winding down period for an hour or two before bed.

More Tips for a Restful Night's Sleep

Americans spend an estimated $2 billion every year on sleeping pills. But there are cheaper, more effective ways to combat the problem, Besser said.

Check out Besser's tips below.

Get a bedtime routine. They're not just for kids. Parents too can benefit from the routine, essentially warning your body its almost time for sleep.

Make sure the room is quiet and dark. Use eye shades if your room gets a lot of light.

Think positively. Saying things like, "I'm never going to fall asleep" can actually affect your ability to do just that. Don't think self-defeating thoughts when you hit the sack. Keep it positive.

Cover your clock. Most people when they wake at night immediately look at the clock. Bad idea. Cover the clock or get it out of the bedroom.

Don't hang out in bed. If you're not sleeping or being intimate, don't just lie around in bed.

Wake up the same time every day, even on the weekends. It may feel good to sleep in on the weekends after a week of hard work, but sleeping in on Saturday or Sunday morning is setting yourself up for trouble on Sunday night.

Relaxation Response

Try relaxation exercise No. 1: Progressive muscle relaxation. This method is based on the theory that an individual can learn to relax one muscle at a time until the entire body is relaxed. Beginning with the muscles in the face, the muscles are contracted gently for one or two seconds and then relaxed.

This is repeated several times and then the same technique is used for other muscle groups, usually in the following sequence: jaw and neck, upper arms, lower arms, fingers, chest, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, calves and feet. The cycle is repeated for approximately 45 minutes.

Click here for more on progressive muscle relaxation from the American Medical Student Association.

Try relaxation exercise No. 2: Relaxation response. This technique begins by lying or sitting comfortably with eyes closed. Allow relaxation to spread throughout the body. Establish a relaxed, abdominal breathing pattern and redirect thoughts away from everyday thoughts and toward a neutral mental focus device such as a peaceful word or image.

Click here to learn more from the AMSA.

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