Psychological Self-Help

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exercises or meditation, repeat a religious saying, read a dull book, or
count sheep. Some people find sex and/or masturbation are a good
sleep-inducers. All these activities occupy your mind, helping you
avoid thoughts and emotions that keep you awake. Remember, after
15 minutes, you need to get out of bed but continue to relax and
prepare yourself for sleep, no big sandwich, no ice cream and cake, no
calling someone to tell them you can't sleep, no worrying about being
tired tomorrow, no getting mad because you can't sleep, just keep
relaxing--sleep will come. 
(l) If you wake up during the night, remain inactive and
resume trying to quiet the mind. Some people have a reading lamp
beside their bed and a book nearby. Reading can often lull you back to
sleep. 
A rather different approach, but similar to the conditioning method
mentioned above, is called "sleep restriction" in which you avoid lying
sleeplessly in bed by limiting your sleep time, i.e. spend only as much
time in bed as you estimate you get of sleep. Example: if you think
you only get about 5 hours of sleep per night, that is all the time you
allow yourself to sleep each night. If you sleep well (over 90% of the
scheduled time) for one week, you add another 15 minutes to your
sleep time the next week. If you don't sleep well, you take 15 minutes
per night away (4 3/4 hours). You learn to go to sleep quickly and to
sleep soundly. 
None of the above methods focus on uncovering and reducing
deeply buried underlying stress or trauma, but they establish good
sleeping conditions, reduce the anxiety about not sleeping, and they
produce good improvement rates. Therefore, those are the approaches
I'd start with. In the cases where the above methods don't work or
where nightmarish dreams occur night after night to disrupt your
sleep, I'd seek help from an insight and dream oriented
psychotherapist. 
For discussions of many sleep disorders, go to Yahoo
and search for "Sleep Problems." You will find over 20 Web sites
for information, books and services. One publisher offers several
books about sleep and a Sleep/Insomnia Program
provides an online sleep evaluation, plus suggestions for insomnia
and nightmare reduction. Perhaps the best recent and research
based self-help books are by Jacobs (1999) and Dement (1999).
Other new books well rated by readers are Maas (1999), Hough &
Ball (1998), Perl (1993), Moore-Ede, LeVert, & Campbell (1998),
and Wiedman (1999). The causes of insomnia are very diverse and
the insomniac simply has to shop around to find a solution that
works well for him/her. 
Several professional Web pages focusing on specific sleep
problems provide research and treatment ideas. The American Family
Physician reviews Chronic Insomnia
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