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Can’t Sleep? How Guided Imagery Can Help You Nod Off

Daily stress can lead to difficulty drifting off at night. Find out how to let it all go with these four helpful techniques.

Do you ever toss and turn before you nod off at night? If so, you’re not alone. As many as 20 percent of adults have difficulty falling asleep. While the cause of sleep troubles can often be elusive, relaxation techniques can usually help you fall asleep more quickly and get more sleep during the night. These are a few good exercises to try.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

To do this simple relaxation technique, you alternately tense and then consciously relax each muscle group one at a time as you move through your body. For example, pull your shoulders up toward your ears, and then let them fall away. And then move down the body, doing the same with your stomach muscles, your calf muscles, your toes, etc. It doesn’t require any special equipment or training, but it can be helpful to start by listening to a guided audio relaxation.

Imagery

Imagine lying peacefully on a secluded beach. The sun is warming your skin and a gentle breeze is flowing over your body. No really, imagine it. Visualizing peaceful scenes can help relax your body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep. If sand and waves aren’t your thing, even picturing your own breath slowing as you drift off to sleep can help make sweet sleep a reality. If you need a little help finding your dreamy zen place, search online for guided visualizations for sleep.

Autogenic Training

With the right focus and awareness, you can learn to physically relax different parts of your body and even slow involuntary functions like your pulse. This type of deep relaxation is typically taught through a specialized course.

Biofeedback

This type of relaxation involves using electrodes that communicate different measures of tension and relaxation to a screen, which provides real-time feedback. That helps you learn how different thoughts or actions affect your body’s muscle tension, pulse, or brain activity. With practice, you learn to do the things that relax your body instead of the ones that do the opposite. Typically, you’ll learn the method at a doctor’s office first, though you can also use a portable machine at home once you get the hang of it.