April Daniels Hussar, SELF magazine
Have you ever found yourself a wee bit jealous of Sleeping Beauty [Ed. Note: I may or may not have a figurine of her on my desk] not because of the hot prince, but because of all that great sleep she got?! If you've ever lay in bed trying to just fall asleep already, you're not alone. The good news? We found an incredible trick--not to turn off your mind, but rather giving it something different to think about.
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"At bedtime, people with insomnia will often plan the next day, re-hash the previous day, think about daily concerns," says Les A. Gellis, Ph.D., sleep research and professor of psychology at Syracuse University. You worry about whatever it is you're worrying about, then you start worrying that your worrying will keep you awake!
What's a girl in need of beauty (and health!) sleep to do? According to Gellis, changing the content of your pre-sleep thoughts may be your ticket to slumberland.
Think of it as changing the channel (though the technical term is "cognitive refocusing"): If you can mentally switch your focus to a "non-stressful category of thought or mental task, you may be able to refocus your thoughts from those associated with sleep disruption," Gellis explains. Here's how to do it.
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Find something engaging, but not too exciting--specifically, something "interesting enough capture your attention for long enough to allow your natural sleep process to take effect, yet at the same time, does not elicit emotional or physiologic activation or arousal," says Gellis.
Decide on three potential topics before you go to bed tonight. If one doesn't capture your attention, or if it starts stressing you out or making you more awake, then you can immediately choose another topic.
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Find what interests you. "This 'category of thought' or mental task will be unique to all individuals because we have different personal interests," says Gellis. Through his research, Gellis has seen patients mentally create crossword puzzles, create imaginary worlds as in a fantasy novel, compute complicated mathematical formulas, create food recipes, or mentally recite the lyrics to their favorite musical. Others focus on their favorite sports team or even make vacation plans, he says.
Focus on personal interests, huh? Tonight I think I'll focus on planning my next vacation...with Ryan Gosling. Hey, a girl can dream, right? Doctors orders!
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