Stop Freaking Out
Stress is one of those unfortunate things that's impossible to avoid and that has a negative impact on almost every aspect of our lives. Nowhere is this more evident (or annoying) than in the case of your nightly slumber. Lying awake staring at your ceiling while the million things that are bugging you run through your head is one of the most depressing, frustrating experiences. Since you can't stop stress altogether, Dr. Arand says you need to focus on ways to manage it instead.
"Multiple studies have shown behavioral approaches to reducing insomnia are extremely effective," she says. Before you head to bed, take a few minutes to sit down and put to paper all of the things that you need to do tomorrow, then write a brief plan of action on how you are going to complete each task the next day. That way, when you start fretting over everything you have to do, you can calm yourself down with the reassuring thought that you are a woman with a plan.
Still having trouble calming your overactive noggin? Dr. Arand is a big fan of deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation (especially good for those who physically tense up when they are stressed), and guided imagery. "If you get in bed and can't turn off your mind, focus on an image or activity that you find really peaceful. Fill your mind with relaxing thoughts, which will block out the other things that are keeping you awake." Her favorite visualizations: Meandering down an endless ski slope with no one around, or drifting down the coastline on a boat and watching the scenery pass you by. Just be sure to pick an activity that calms you and that has no discernible end point.