Sleep gives us energy, a positive attitude, and better ability to cope with daily stress. We need adequate sleep for physical restoration, growth, adaptability and memory.
In general, Americans, particularly adolescents and aging adults, don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can decrease our cognitive ability to focus, problem solve, and maintain attention, and it can cause irritability and emotional irregularity. All of which can interfere with positive well-being.
So, what can be done to help us sleep better and be more rested?
Often, sleep disturbances are related to excessive worrying and general arousal during bed time – this could be from our drinking and eating habits, or a general inability to relax and wind down.
Fortunately, researches in Canada studied three interventions with the goal of helping students reduce pre-sleep arousal and improve overall quality of sleep. The interventions were three exercises involving constructive worrying, imagery distraction and cultivating gratitude.
The students were simply sent these exercises by email and required no formal training. The results revealed that these three interventions were successful.
Students who received a constructive worry, imagery distraction, or a gratitude intervention had less cognitive and somatic pre-sleep arousal and worry, increased total sleep time, and improved sleep quality compared to baseline.
Here are the three interventions in more detail so you can apply them in your own life.
1. Constructive Worry
This involves setting aside 15 minutes earlier in the day to write out worries and concerns that are likely to interfere with sleep. Solutions to these problems are considered and the hope is that there will no longer be a tendency to focus on these problems for the time being.
2. Imagery Distraction
For about 15 minutes each night after all bedtime routines have been completed, with eyes closed imagine an interesting, pleasant, and engaging situation. Imagine something that comforts you and gives you positive feelings, though make sure it isn’t anything too arousing or exciting that could actually keep you stimulated and awake.
3. Gratitude Intervention
Our mood has an impact on sleep. Schedule a daily 15-minute session in the early evening when you can write about a positive event that has occurred lately or that you anticipate in the near future.
Hopefully these interventions can help you get a good night sleep, and give you something to fall back on when you are experiencing a sleepless night.
Are any of these interventions more
appealing to you than others?
Any that you have tried before?
Digdon, N. & Koble, A. (2011). Effects of Constructive Worry, Imagery Distraction, and Gratitude Interventions on Sleep Quality: A Pilot Trial. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3 (2), 193–206.
Photo credit: Foxtongue.