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Mind Exercises to Help You Sleep

Sleepingphoto © 2009 Umberto Salvagnin | more info (via: Wylio)Sleep is a top factor in your overall health and well-being. Studies link the benefits of sleep to weight loss, disease prevention, and stress reduction. Yet for many, sleep continues to be an elusive and challenging daily goal.

Aside from knocking yourself out with drug store sleep aids or a few glasses of wine, there are other (healthier) options for those who have  a difficult time sleeping. Many of you have probably tried the following: stick to a consistent bed time, create a sleep zone, no exercise right before bed, no lights in the room, etc.  But what happens when you just can’t quiet your mind?

Our first suggestion is to always keep a notepad by your bed. This will take some of the pressure off when you can’t seem to stop thinking about what has to get done, or new and better ideas for a project you are working on. Write them down! They will be there in the morning.

Still can’t shut your mind off? Try these exercises to help keep your mind focused, calm, and ready to relax into sleep.

1. Create a mental map of your body.  Starting at your feet envision the muscles in your feet, tense them, and then allow them to relax. Continue up your calves, thighs, and through your body. Stop at each major muscle group and tense, then relax the muscles. As you relax the muscles, breathe out. Think of this as a way to relax your body completely or in other words… putting your body to sleep.

2. Deep breathing.  Place your hands on your abdomen an begin a series of soothing deep breathes. No puffing like a steam engine! Just soothing breaths, in and out. Focus on your abdomen rising and lowering and concentrate on how letting out deep breathes makes you feel like you are letting stress out. Keep your mind focused on your abdomen and your breathing.

3. Imagination. Use your mind and your imagination to visualize a place that is calm and peaceful for you. It could be curled up in your favorite reading nook, on a beach or in a field. Spend time imagining it. The light, the colors, the wind, the smells, the sounds, and even imagine you doing something simple, like throwing pebbles in the water. Keep your imagination reigned in, and focus on the minute details of your restful place. By training your mind to focus on the small things you can help relax yourself enough to sleep.

4. Counting.  Just like nursery school when you counted the sheep before going to bed… counting truly does serve a purpose in helping you sleep. Counting is a useful repetitive tool that has been taught since youth. It comes naturally, generally you don’t have to think too hard about it and the repetition will lull your mind into finally letting go. It is recommended to count down.

Finally, try using all of these techniques together, or a bit of each. The purpose is to train your mind into focusing on relaxing, not on what is on your to-do list for tomorrow.

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One Response

  1. In addition to the above, I’ve personally found hot soaks in the tub with Epsom salts and a favorite fragrance along with meditation tapes constantly played through stereo headphones while I relax in bed and fall asleep to be a big help. I have sleep apnea and have to use a CPAP machine so it helps to have anything that can help me relax while having to be permanently tethered to a mask and machine that restrict my movement while I sleep.

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