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Getting to sleep

Audio sleep guide

Relaxation therapy to help you sleep

If you're having trouble getting to sleep, these audio podcasts will help ease you into a good night's rest.

  1. Introduction: In this four-minute introduction, Cindy explains the techniques she will guide you through to help you get to sleep.

  2. Progressive muscle relaxation: This five-minute segment helps release muscle tension and decrease anxiety.

  3. Deep breathing: This four-minute section helps quiet the mind, calm the body, slow down preparing for sleep.

  4. Guided imagery: Use your imagination in an active way to promote relaxation in the next four minutes.

  5. Affirmations: If you apply the affirmations you hear within these seven minutes, you will sleep better.

  6. Music: Let four minutes of soothing music lull you to sleep.

Please note: These activities may help you get to sleep. However, they are not treatment for sleep disorders.

Source: Allina Health, Relaxation for Sleep CD
All music used with permission from Serenity ©2011
Reviewed by: Cindy Heppner, bio-feedback therapist, United Pain Center
First Published: 02/02/2011
Last Reviewed: 02/02/2011

Sleep hygiene

Bedtime hygiene often consists of washing your face and brushing your teeth. Sleep hygiene refers to habits you develop over a period of time that promote good sleep.

Good sleep habits promote restful sleep and daytime alertness. They can also prevent the development of sleep problems and disorders.

You can create good sleep hygiene by doing the following.

  • Get regular exercise, but not right before bed.
  • Find a good temperature for sleeping (cool is often the best).
  • Go to bed only when you are tired and get into your favorite sleeping position. If you can't fall asleep right away, leave the room and find something quiet to do (such as reading). When you are tired, go back to bed and try to fall asleep.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day — even on the weekends or during vacation.
  • Avoid taking naps during the day. If you do nap, limit the time to one nap of less than 1 hour. Do not nap later than 3 p.m.
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal or spicy foods before bedtime. If you are hungry at bedtime, eat a light snack (such as a glass of warm milk or cheese and crackers).
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid bright lights and computer screen time shortly before bedtime.
  • Avoid nicotine before bed. Quitting smoking or cutting down can help you fall asleep better and wake up fewer times each night.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex. Let your body “know” that the bed is for sleeping.
  • Avoid noise and bright rooms. Consider putting up darkening shades on the windows, wearing earplugs, or using a white noise machine if you live in a noisy neighborhood.
  • Avoid watching the clock.
  • Don't take your worries to bed.

If you think you may have depression, anxiety or stress, talk with your health care provider. Problems staying asleep can be a sign of depression.

What if I wake up?

Many people wake up at night for various reasons.

  • If you need to get up to use the bathroom, try to use a night light to see, instead of turning on a main light. Bright lights can stimulate your body and may keep you from falling asleep.
  • If you get up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, do not stay in bed. Leave the bedroom and do a quiet activity (such as reading). Do not do office work, housework or watch television. When you are tired, lie down again and you should be able to get back to sleep in about 20 minutes.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sleep Disorders, neuro-ahc-21532 (5/09)

Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Statistics from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2009