How can I relax my mind enough to sleep well?

This question was asked in Chatham, New Jersey on 01/21/2013.
I have trouble relaxing before bedtime. I am physically exhausted but my mind does not shut down enough get enough sleep. It is not uncommon to stay awake the entire night at least one to two days per week. Is this a sleep disorder even though it is just about relaxation?

Doctors Answers (3)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 4/5/2013 7

There are several behavioral modifications you can make to help relax yourself before bedtime. Perhaps journaling your thoughts before bed would help free your mind. Another suggestion is to practice deep breathing.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 1/23/2013

The inability to relax one's mind is a common cause for insomnia or a disturbed sleep which is a sleep disorder. The treatment will include a review of possible causes and then treatment. Sometimes this can be done by a psychologist which may lead to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT includes relaxation therapy, biofeedback and imaging techniques. Other treatments include medication to assist with mental relaxation or sleep aides. Avoid over the counter sleep aides as they often have an adverse effect on sleep patterns.

Courtney Whitney, DO
Answered on: 1/22/2013

Unfortunately, I hear this from other patients as well. Developing the skill to turn off your brain from such activity is one option. Some have been successful with relaxation strategies, biofeedback, and meditation. Alternatively, some of my patients have found it helpful to sit in a quiet place prior to bed and journal their thoughts, concerns and worries. The process of writing them down can help some people separate from an otherwise futile activity. Also be sure to practice good sleep hygiene.