In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

January 15, 2015

Resolve to Relax, and Get the Sleep You Need

By In the Loop

Silver alarm clock on night standSome New Year’s resolutions feel like a lot of work. But as we were browsing the latest issue of Entrepreneur magazine, we stumbled onto a resolution so easy we could complete it lying down. It also promises to help us reach some of our more difficult goals.

As the story goes, we simply aren’t getting enough sleep. (You knew that was coming.) And author (and entrepreneur) Firas Kittaneh writes that while “popular New Year’s resolutions focus on … quitting bad habits and being more productive” most of us “might be surprised to learn how closely sleep relates to achieving most of these goals.” Getting enough sleep, he writes, “is associated with healthier body weight, greater motivation and smarter food choices.” It also helps our brains “operate better, facilitating learning, stress management, problem solving and attention.”

Among the tips the article offers for fulfilling a sleep resolution (after things like setting sleep goals, making a sleep plan, and sleep-proofing your bedroom) was having some “bedtime strategies in mind.” Since changing your sleep schedule isn’t easy, Kittaneh suggests “strategies like guided relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation and other calm-inducing tactics,” noting Mayo Clinic “provides a good overview.”

Here are a few of those relaxation tips from Mayo Clinic to get the slumber party started:

  • Autogenic relaxation. This technique uses “visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress … imagine a peaceful setting and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate, or feeling different physical sensations, such as relaxing each arm or leg one by one.”
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. “Start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head … Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.”
  • Visualization. “Form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation … relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves and the warmth of the sun on your body.” (Zzzzzz.)

If you want to explore this sleep thing a little further, check out recommendations from Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D., on getting 7 to 8 hours of nightly shuteye. And try a few sleep tricks from Mayo Clinic. We’d suggest some late night reading of your favorite every-other-daily newsletter, but we’d hate for our compelling prose to interfere with your sleep.

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Tags: Community, Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, Sleep

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