I click the light out and whisper good night to my husband. Two minutes later I hear his gentle rhythmical breathing. He’s already asleep. I on the other hand, am not. I often find it difficult to fall asleep, so I’d like to share a few tips with you.
Normally, my mind is whirling. Full of useless things. A long list of things I didn’t get done today. A long list of things I need to do tomorrow. A long list of mundane things, important things, worrying things.
Just things to mull over.
Oh things! Please be quiet and go to sleep.
So this is what I do. It’s one of my favourite bits of yoga class. The bit at the end when you do a little bit of relaxation.
It’s really easy.
- Get in a Comfortable Position. You want to relax your body so either flat on your front or flat on your back.
- Relax Your Muscles Individually by focusing your attention on the..
I start by relaxing my head and face. What?? I know, but think about it, if you can make your body relaxed, your mind will follow. (Or so the theory goes.)
I think about all those muscles in my face and think of them relaxing. I focus my attention on that particular area. Normally my head is fizzing with too much late night screen time. I often find that my brow is furrowed and my teeth are clenched. These are clearly not signs of being relaxed.
They’re also really common.
I relax my face and think relaxing thoughts. And then I start on the other parts of my body, my arms, my legs, my breathing.
Relax Stressed Areas Before You Go to Sleep
Your shoulders are another area where the stress builds up. Stay concentrating on that area for a while. In your comfortable flat position you can try to stretch out your muscles, move your shoulders apart. Think of yourself stretching a little.
The thoughts often sneak in. Oh the things you can think! Suddenly I’m thinking about planning an amazing adventure to a far away place, or a meal to eat, a blog post to write.
Oh things! You need to be quiet so I can go to sleep.
When that happens, I start again.
I relax my face, my furrowed brow and clenched teeth. I concentrate on breathing deeply and slowly, deeply and slowly.
The things appear! I shut them out with a snap.
Breath Slowly to Help You Get to Sleep
Breathing deeply and slowly, deeply and slowly.
I try to slow my breathing down to match my sleeping husband. In and Out. In and Out. Innnnn and Ouuuuuut.
And gradually, gradually, I relax enough that I can fall asleep too.
The Last Thing You Think About Before You Fall Asleep
Did you know that your brain makes memories as you sleep? The last thing that you think about before you fall asleep is really important. Or at least your brain thinks so. So choose what you think about carefully.
I try to just think “calm and relaxing” in the hope that I’ll be calm and relaxed the following day. I have no idea if it actually works but I figure it’s worth a try.
Tips to Help you Sleep
Exercise. I know it sounds crazy, but physical exercise during the day is a great way to relax and helps you go to sleep. Don’t do it just before you go to bed though.
Computer screens late at night. The lights that computer, smart phones and tablets give out, messes around with your body. It makes you think it’s day when it’s night. It’s best to avoid them later in the day. Or put them on night time mode.
Go to bed early. I know, there is always something else to do. Another program to watch, another email to send but getting to sleep at a reasonable time will help you fall asleep. Give yourself a limit, a wind-down time. This is the time when you stop your brain from working and start the relaxation process.
Caffeine. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. I know that I’m super-sensitive to it so I don’t drink tea or coffee after lunch time. Otherwise, I just lie awake at night listening to my heart beating louder than normal. If you’re not sure how sensitive you are, cut back and see what happens.
Meditation and Yoga Learning how to relax is an important skill and one that we need to practise regularly. Either doing some exercises by yourself or going to a class is a great idea. I always find that a class is good to make me actually do it. In theory I can do yoga by myself. I just never do.
Let Your Body Rest
On the days when I feel like I’m lying away for hours, I don’t get out of bed. I know some people recommend getting up and starting again. I console myself that my body is relaxing and resting. It may not be fully asleep but it is slowing down and recuperating from the busy day.
Normally, however, my breathing slows, finding a similar rhythm to my oblivious husband, the whirring of my brain stops and I drift off to sleep. Calm, peaceful, resting sleep.