Original Article

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 260-272

First online:

Using Mental Imagery to Deliver Self-Regulation Techniques to Improve Sleep Behaviors

  • Marisa H. LoftAffiliated withJeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Email author 
  • , Linda D. CameronAffiliated withUniversity of California

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Poor sleep habits and insufficient sleep represent significant workplace health issues.


Applying self-regulation theory, we conducted a randomized, controlled trial testing the efficacy of mental imagery techniques promoting arousal reduction and implementation intentions to improve sleep behavior.


We randomly assigned 104 business employees to four imagery-based interventions: arousal reduction, implementation intentions, combined arousal reduction and implementation intentions, or control imagery. Participants practiced their techniques daily for 21 days. They completed online measures of sleep quality, behaviors, and self-efficacy at baseline and Day 21; and daily measures of sleep behaviors.


Participants using implementation intention imagery exhibited greater improvements in self-efficacy, sleep behaviors, sleep quality, and time to sleep relative to participants using arousal reduction and control imagery.


Implementation intention imagery can improve sleep behavior for daytime employees. Use of arousal reduction imagery was unsupported. Self-regulation imagery techniques show promise for improving sleep behaviors.


Sleep Self-regulation Implementation intentions Intervention Mental simulation