Sleeping isn’t always easy to do. There is no on and off switch for your brain that allows you to instantly go to sleep. How can you make sure you get enough hours of sleep every night and that you don’t lie awake in your bed for too long? Learning some relaxation techniques for sleep can put you in the right state of mind to get your rest without struggling for it.
Whether this is the first night or the fiftieth night that you’ve had trouble sleeping, there is probably a relaxation technique that can help you fight off sleeplessness. I’ve put together this list to help you get to know some of the best relaxation techniques for sleep. It’s awful not being able to fall asleep, and I don’t want you to go through it ever again if you don’t have to! Try out some of the techniques below and see if they will work for you.
11 Relaxation Techniques for Sleep
1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
You may have heard of this technique before, as it’s sometimes mentioned in relation to anxiety or stress relief as well. The purpose of this relaxation method is to make all of your muscles relax fully. You accomplish this by tensing your muscles in certain groups and then releasing them. Slowly, but surely, you will tense and release all of your muscles and your body will feel very relaxed. (https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/MuscleRelaxation.pdf)
Mediating is all about clearing your mind and operating in the here and now. If you are unable to sleep for any reason, it might help you to practice meditation for around 10 to 15 minutes. You can do it even while you’re lying down in bed. Close your eyes and focus on what your body is doing. Shut down all of the thoughts going through you mind, and only allow thoughts that you want. Be sure to think about light topics that won’t distract you from your meditation.
This type of meditation will allow you to relax more fully and may even cause you to fall asleep while you’re doing it!
3. Focused Breathing
Breathing exercises can be helpful for relaxing your body and your mind enough to get you to fall asleep without realizing it. Focused breathing exercises, such as the so-called 4-7-8 method, will calm you down and make your body feel much more relaxed than before. These exercises help to slow yourself down and cause you to focus on something as mundane as breathing. (http://www.prevention.com/health/sleep-energy/breathing-exercise-insomnia)
Much like meditation can help you by distracting your mind, breathing exercises can have that effect while also having a physical relaxation effect. The best way to do this is to breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. If you repeat these steps a few times, you will probably feel much better and ready for sleep.
4. Purposeful Daydreaming
Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming at any point? You realize your mind was all over the place in happy thoughts and you weren’t paying attention. This is a good precursor to sleeping, and trying to do something like this makes it easy to fall asleep as well. Visualize a pleasant place, a beautiful scene, a great memory, or something else equally enjoyable. (https://www.unr.edu/counseling/virtual-relaxation-room/using-visualization-to-relax-and-sleep-better)
The point of this is to let your mind drift around a topic of your choosing. If you get stressed or worried thinking about something, move on to another topic that won’t stress you out.
One technique that works well for a lot of people is the mindfulness technique. This one takes more effort than the others that I have talked about so far, and you will have to learn how to recognize and then change your way of thinking entirely. You will be able to see when you’re worrying over circumstances that can’t be fixed at the moment and will instead be able to make yourself think about the moment you’re living in right now. (http://www.nosleeplessnights.com/mindfulness-exercises/)
Despite how it may sound, mindfulness is not a religious exercise in any way. It is simply learning to recognize different thought processes in your brain and changing your way of thinking in order to help yourself not to stay in a negative state over things which cannot be fixed at the moment. For example, if you’re worrying over what your boss is going to talk about in a meeting the next day, you might ruin your sleep. But, with mindfulness you’ll catch that thought and change it to something which is not stressful and will help you sleep instead.
6. Go Over Your Day in Detail
It can sometimes help you sleep if you go over every little thing that happened during your day. Don’t speak it out loud or write about it, but just start thinking hard about all that you did during your 12+ hours awake. The point of this is to give your brain something to keep it distracted so that you can fall asleep without even realizing it. Going over small details can sometimes bring sleep.
7. Sound Therapy
White noise is almost like a miracle for some people. When it comes to sleep, the problem you’re having might be that there are noises you can hear that are distracting you as you’re trying to sleep. This might be due to loud noises somewhere around your home or outside, and sometimes it may even be because the room is TOO quiet and your mind is paying too much attention to every little noise. (http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sleep-better-the-science-of-sound-machines-168208)
Whatever the reason, white noise and sounds machines can help you sleep by giving your ears a distraction. This helps to block out any loud noises you may hear around you and also fill the quiet with a soothing sound.
8. Get Comfortable Support
It’s possible that you’re unable to sleep well because you are completely uncomfortable in your own bed every night. Why might this be? Most people don’t give their body adequate support in bed and will assume that the mattress and pillow are doing enough to keep their body in the right shape, but actually they may not be.
If your spine is properly aligned, you may feel discomfort in your legs, hips, back, shoulders, or neck in the morning. Depending on your sleeping position, you may not be able to fall asleep well because you need more comfort and support. You can usually fix this type of issue with a body pillow, because they offer support to your entire body and will help you to align your spine correctly.
Body pillows are ideal for pregnant women, those who have just come from surgery, and anyone else that needs some level of extra support at night. You can get a straight pillow, a J-shaped pillow, or a U-shaped pillow to fit whatever needs you have. [Your Guide to Finding the Best Body Pillow]
9. Read a Book
Reading has been shown to help you relax and fall asleep at night, which makes it a fantastic thing to do as you try to relax for bed. Turn on your bedside table lamp, pull out a good book, and read a chapter or so to help yourself get de-stressed and tired enough to sleep. (http://elitedaily.com/life/reading-bedtime-can-help-sleep-dream-better/1002744/)
10. Develop a Better Bedtime Routine
Your issue may not be what you’re doing to relax before you sleep, but it could be that your body doesn’t naturally relate the bedroom to sleep right now. If your bedtime routine involves jumping from any activity straight into bed and expecting to fall asleep quickly, you might be doing it wrong. It’s a good idea to develop a short routine that will help your mind realize it’s time to go to sleep.
11. Journal Your Stresses
Did you know that when you write down the things you’re worried about or what you’re stressing over, you might be able to sleep better? Research has shown that by giving yourself a short time to journal about your stresses and worries before you sleep you can actually avoid thinking about them when you lay your head down at night. Give it a try! (http://healthguides.healthgrades.com/getting-a-good-nights-sleep/journaling-before-bed-can-help-ward-off-sleeplessness)
Hopefully you’ll find some use with this list and will be able to sleep more easily tonight and every other night. It’s my sincere wish for you to get a good night of rest and to sleep better in the morning!
Do you have anything you’d like to add to this list? Which relaxation technique are you going to try? Let me know in the comments below, and if you have a question I am happy to answer it!