On the other hand, if you find you’re waking up too early in the morning or have advanced sleep-phase syndrome, you may need more light late afternoon and could try taking a walk outdoors or light therapy for two to three hours in the evening.
Home light therapy units are available and may be recommended by your doctor or sleep specialist to use in conjunction with your sleep therapy.
Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
A regular meditation practice may help to promote sleep by slowing breathing and reducing stress hormone levels. Meditation is a technique that involves consciously directing one’s attention to an object of focus (such as breathing or a sound or word) in order to increase awareness, relax the body, and calm the mind.
Some types of meditation include guided meditation, vipassana meditation, yoga nidra, or body scan. Also try:
- Visualization: Visualization involves actively imagining a relaxing scene.9 You can try it in bed for 20 minutes before falling asleep. Involve all your senses. If you’re imagining yourself on a tropical island, think of the way the warm breeze feels against your skin. Imagine the sweet scent of the flowers, look at the water and listen to the waves. The more vivid the visualization and the more senses you involve, the more effective it will be.
- Relaxation response: This is a mind/body response that occurs after following specific instructions patterned closely after Transcendental Meditation.
- Mindfulness: This type of meditation essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present.
Early evidence suggests that meditation techniques may improve sleep.10 The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says relaxation techniques have enough evidence to say they can be helpful for insomnia. But further research is still needed.
A system of relaxation, breathing, exercise, and healing with origins in Indian philosophy, yoga has been described as the union of mind, body, and spirit. A 2017 review study cited evidence that yoga (as well as mindfulness-based stress management and tai chi) can relieve insomnia symptoms.11
Hypnosis is a state in which a person is more focused, aware, and open to suggestion. Although how it works is not understood, hypnosis may bring about physiological changes in the body such as decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and alpha wave brain patterns, similar to meditation and other types of deep relaxation.