Falling asleep: the term sounds as easy as falling off a bike. While some adults do have this experience and find themselves fast asleep…well…fast, many people have a little bit of a lot tougher time getting themselves those much needed z’s. For those who don’t find falling asleep as easy as simply drifting off, here are some useful relaxation and calming techniques to do before bed. These should prep your body for a deep restful night’s sleep.
4 7 8 Breathing:
One of the things that can make it difficult to fall asleep is the high pace of our days and oftentimes having to process a large amount of information on a 24-hour basis. For many of us, this can leave us with a racing mind, still trying to keep track of things as our heads hit the pillow. This can be experienced as anxiety, lack of tiredness, stress, or even just hyperness. These are all signals that the stress of our day has triggered our fight or fight part of the brain. A technique known as 4, 7, 8 breathing shuts this back down and allows us to quite easily move into a state of relaxation and comfortable ease. The way to do this is to time your breathing. Start by breathing in for a count of 4. Then holding that breath for a count of 7. Finally, slowly letting that breath all the way out for a count of 8. If you try this a few times, even just during stressful times, you should notice a pretty profound sense of relaxation take over as your body goes into “everything is A-Okay” mode.
Another one of our calming techniques to get our minds to get out of high gear is breath centered awareness. This doesn’t require counting. Simply focus your mind on how you’re breathing in and out. Start with how it feels, slowly drawing air in and letting it out. You might try slowing your breath which will also signal your body that it’s time to start to wind down and rest.
This is much simpler than it sounds. With this relation method, you go through each part of your body and first tense the muscles there holding them then relaxing them, allowing them to release any tension that may have been held there without you being aware of it. A good place to start is your feet or the back of your head, slowly moving to the next body area (in this case your ankles or your temples then face respectively). As you relax more and more parts of your body, your mind will follow and begin relaxing deeply, allowing you to comfortably begin to sleep.
Relaxing Imagery Meditation:
This is simple and something most of us did as children. In order to do this, simply imagine yourself in a place or environment that is completely relaxing and safe for you, such as the beach or perhaps laying in a boat, looking up at the sky, floating lazily down a slow sleepy river. As you do this, slowly add details from each of your senses. You may find some easier to imagine than others. In this case, just move on to another sense and come back later. So, as in the beach example, you might start with feeling the soft sand at your back, the sound of the waves washing ashore or the play of light from the sun as it bounces off the waves. As you add more you might notice it all becoming much easier and vivid. This should put you to sleep quicker than you even notice… Still there?
Letting The Day Go:
For the last of our calming techniques, you’re going to let go of any thoughts, worries, stress or anxiety of the day, making room for the next one. Firstly, it’s a good idea to write the things down on a personal notepad so that, if there are important parts you need to remember, it will be there, written down for you when you wake up. This lets you give yourself safe permission to let the thoughts, worry and stress go for tonight. If you want to add this to the previous technique, you can imagine each worry passing by as clouds you look up at the sky at the beach/river. Each one drifting away and evaporating with the other clouds. This can give you the peace of mind that you can let yourself fall asleep without tossing these thoughts around.
These relaxing, calming techniques are best tailored to what works best for you. Sometimes before bed, with a notebook on the bedside or sometimes as you’re laying down into the softness of your bed. Either way, each technique is very effective at gaining a full, peaceful, calm state of rest, relation and…
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