Relaxation is a challenge for many people. Lying in bed, wide awake, thinking about life’s little nuances leads to exhaustion and reduced production the next day. Many people find themselves lying awake at night, worried over family, work, money, relationships, or health. It’s difficult to get to sleep when these worries take over the brain, however, nearly everyone has something to worry over at bedtime. Using a few simple relaxation techniques will help sleep come faster, and will help sleep stay uninterrupted all night. A good night’s sleep helps increase production, reduces anxiety, and creates a happier, healthier, whole self.
1. Guided Meditation
Many people feel silly meditating, but it is effective in helping the brain relax at the end of the day. A guided meditation session uses a meditation soundtrack to help the brain slip into meditation with little practice or previous knowledge on meditation techniques. The brain focuses on the soundtrack, taking it away from the worries of the day, allowing it to relax and drift into sleep.
Using a mobile device, such as a phone or a tablet, to play a meditation video helps many people relax while they lie in bed at night. The video plays in the background, the person closes his or her eyes, and allows the video to guide the brain toward a more relaxed state. The light must be off or low for the brain to fully benefit from the soundtrack.
It’s wise to research a number of different guided meditation videos before choosing one, as they contain different instructions, different voices, and different background noises. The right meditation video is one that soothes, with a calming voice, and easy-to-follow instructions. There are a variety of videos available, each with its own unique sounds and voices.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique brings the muscles to a relaxed state at the end of the day. The body uses many muscles throughout the day; some muscles are used without the person realizing it. This type of relaxation is effective through its ability to relieve tension, and to “teach” the body how it feels to be relaxed. In response, the mind relaxes, focuses on the body, and lets go of the daily worries. Sleep happens when the mind is allowed to refocus on the muscles and the muscles are assisted in relaxation.
Completing muscle relaxation is a step by step process:
- Breathe slowly, through the nose, and inhale deeply. Exhale slowly and deliberately through the mouth. Repeat for approximately a minute.
- Draw in a deep breath while tensing the toes and feet for three to four seconds. As the tension is released, exhale slowly.
- Take another deep breath while tightening the lower leg muscles. Hold this position for another few seconds, the exhale while relaxing.
- Repeat for the upper leg muscles, through the pelvis.
- Breathe deep and tense the abdomen and the lower back. Pull the stomach muscles in tightly for only a few seconds, as well as pulling the back muscles taut. Release the tension on the exhale.
- Repeat with the chest and upper back.
- Repeat the steps with the hands, lower arms, and upper arms. Tense the shoulders and neck in the same manner.
- Tense the face next; this is typically done by “making funny faces” and stretching the face muscles.
- Repeat this full body tensing three times to gain the full benefits of the relaxation technique.
3. Deep Breathing
This technique can be used in conjunction with any other relaxation technique. It is also effective any time throughout the day, calming the mind and helping to bring back focus. Deep breathing is different than other types of breathing; the breathing is pulled deep into the abdomen, and the breathing rate is slow and controlled.
This technique is effective for a number of different reasons:
- The muscles relax
- The heart rate slows down.
- Breathing is regulated; this is advantageous for more effective sleep.
- Attention is drawn away from worrying thoughts, stopping them, and allowing the mind to focus on relaxation.
Do It Step By Step:
- Find a suitable place, where the body is relaxed. At bedtime, the best place to practice this technique is lying down on a comfortable mattress.
- Begin by mentally releasing tension from each muscle. Let the muscles fall into the mattress, working the tension out from the toes to the face.
- Focus on the breathing with the eyes closed.
- Place a hand on the stomach, and the other on the chest. Discover if they both rise with breathing, or if only one rises. Pay attention to which hand rises; this “test” will help discover if the body breathes with the abdomen, chest, or both.
- Inhale slowly through the nose for five seconds. Try to make the hand on the stomach rise more than the hand on the chest. This is referred to as “abdominal breathing” and is the focus of this technique. This method of breathing is perfected with practice.
- After the breath is drawn in, and the abdomen rises, hold for approximately five seconds. Breathe out through the nose.
- Continue this breathing pattern for approximately five minutes.
- After the technique is mastered, place the hands at the sides of the body to improve muscle relaxation.
- Set a time limit goal for this technique, or perform it until sleep occurs.
4. Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness is a new technique popularized by a number of different mental health professionals. It works as a relaxation technique as well as a self-help practice. It can be done at home with a few simple guiding tips.
It has been proven to be effective in treating stress, depression, pain, overactive minds, and anxiety. Many people who can’t sleep due to worry or pain have used this technique effectively.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist principles. These principles include living in each moment and accepting things as they are in the current moment. However, this technique has a practical application, and works effectively without attaching spiritual or religious meaning.
This technique works by focusing the brain on what is happening in the current moment. Lying in bed thinking about the past or the future keeps people awake. Focusing on what’s happening in the moment helps distract the brain from life’s worries, and helps with relaxation.
This technique requires more practice than the others, and is often used in conjunction with the other techniques. Refocusing the brain away from worries and thinking about only the present requires a strong focus that some people do not possess. However, every person has the ability to use this technique in conjunction with the other techniques. In fact, focusing on the present helps deep breathing, meditation, and relaxing into a deeper sleep.
Use What Works for You
After you have purchased a mattress that makes you feel good, use these techniques, one at a time, to discover what makes you most comfortable. When one feels right, try another in conjunction, or keep going with the one that works best for you. It’s important to remember that relaxation and a good night’s sleep is personal. Finding the right technique to melt away the stress and anxiety of the day depends on the mentality and desires of each individual person. Explore these techniques individually or together, and if it’s the mattress that is making you uncomfortable, please contact your local Urban Mattress store.