Not all relaxation techniques help you sleep

Not all relaxation techniques help you sleep

If your busy, active mind is stopping you from sleeping, it is important to have some way of switching off the obsessive thinking and worrying which can keep you awake. Thus, you should find a ‘relaxation technique’ designed to meet your needs.

For many people, especially long-term insomniacs, a new technique will only work once it has become established as a part of their bedtime routine. So pick a relaxation technique that appeals to you and commit to using it every night until it ceases to feel new. Start using it on a low-stress night, not on a night where there is great pressure on you to sleep. Continue to use it every night until it begins to feel normal and familiar, even if to start with it seems to make your sleeping a bit worse.

It is recommended that you use either a scientifically proven method, or use a technique that caters to your particular circumstance. You may need to try a few to find one that suits you, as not all will have the same effect on each person. For example, I find progressive body relaxation useless; others swear by it. But in each case, do not reject something until you have used it nightly for at least a fortnight. In this way, when a high-pressure night comes along, it will be so familiar that it will act as a comfort, rather than a disturbance.

This may seem to contradict everything I say about sleep crutches, and the way people can come to depend on them. But there is nothing intrinsically harmful about using something to help you sleep, as long as it is harmless, is reliable, and most importantly, that it is used alongside attention to faulty beliefs. Ultimately speaking, the only sleep crutch worth having is belief in your own ability to sleep. But for some, this is too big a jump to make. And for those, a relaxation CD or white noise MP3 or technique is a fine intermediate stage. This is why it is recommended that you find a relaxation method that works for you. If at some point you feel the technique has become a crutch, then it is up to you when and if you should eliminate it. If you do decide to eliminate it, then it is essential to believe in your instrinsic ability to sleep well at night. For now, you simply need to remember:

Relaxation techniques, music, and recordings will usually only work once they have become familiar.