Short on Sleep? How To Beat Insomnia

This morning on "Good Morning America," you saw a report that linked chronic insomnia with an elevated risk for death.

Experts agree that getting the proper amount of sleep can affect the rest of your life. Insufficient sleep negatively affect the brain.

Click HERE to read the full report.

Americans spend an estimated $2 billion every year on sleeping pills. The pills can help, along with other treatments including cognitive behavioral therapy, but there are natural ways to help people get a good night's sleep.

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Pill-Free Fix for Insomnia

Here are a few tips from ABC News' senior health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser:

Establish 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 too much 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 you 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 45 minutes.

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

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