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This information was reviewed and approved by Sheila Tsai, MD (3/1/2017).

The following strategies and techniques have helped many people with insomnia. 

Progressive muscle relaxation

Exercises that tense and relax each muscle group can help the body prepare for sleep. As you lie in bed, tense the muscles in each area of your body and then relax them, one area at a time. Start with your legs, then your buttocks and thighs, and so on up your body until every part of you has had the chance to relax.


Guided imagery

In guided imagery, you imagine yourself in your favorite peaceful place — maybe a porch swing at a beloved house or on a beach in the late afternoon when the crowds are gone. You close your eyes and imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the place. This can help you relax and, if you continue imagining the same place over the course of weeks, doing so can become part of a routine that your mind associates with sleep.


Abdominal breathing

This can be done by itself or as part of any relaxation technique. Breathe deeply, but instead of lifting your chest and shoulders, breathe down into your abdomen. Breathe in slowly, hold the breath for a second or two, and relax to let the air escape. Repeat.



In biofeedback, a technician places sensors on your skin, connected to machines that display information about brain waves, skin temperature and other physiological aspects of the stress response. Through biofeedback training, you may be able to learn to recognize and control your stress response.



In meditation, you learn to concentrate without allowing the mind to wander. Quieting your mind has been shown to decrease stress.


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