Meditate And Relax
Some of us find it incredibly hard to switch off once we’re in bed and ready to go to sleep. Technology doesn’t help and if we’re out of sync with our body clock and not eating the right foods the effects can also impact negatively on sleep quality. But stress is also a major factor. In fact, stress stops over 50% of us from falling asleep easily.*
Meditation and relaxation are incredibly useful tools and when used as part of a good sleep routine can be very powerful in helping your mind and body get into the right mode for sleep. Read The Art of Falling Asleep for some simple and effective techniques to use here, or read on below…
For over half of us, money worries and stress are the main things that stop us from falling to sleep easily. In addition, a third of us also wake up in the middle of the night with something on our mind.²²
Learning to meditate is a great way to retrain your brain away from stressful, fear based thinking and also helps you to relax and get off to sleep more easily. Meditation is proven to have numerous health benefits, not least because it increases levels of the feel good endorphins and lowers the stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol.
Meditation can be done before getting into the bedroom, or sitting in your bedroom before you get into bed (in order to reinforce the protocol/sleep habit that your bed is for sleeping in). Guided meditations with CDs and recordings are a great way to wind down.
Stress produces the flight or fight response in the body, raising our adrenalin levels, causing our muscles to tense and increasing our heart rate. At this point, our minds start to churn and our brain produces more beta waves, which keeps us awake and alert.
RELAXATION TECHNIQUE USING YOUR BREATH USING YOUR BREATH
Bring your hands onto your belly, and focus on visualizing the air coming into your lungs:
•Breathe in slowly for 4 seconds
•Hold your breath for 4 seconds
•Breathe out for 5 seconds
•Hold your breath for 5 seconds
This both slows your breathing down, and relaxes you.
RELAXATION TECHNIQUE USING YOUR MUSCLES
CALMING YOUR MIND
Slowing your breathing is also a great way of getting to sleep faster. Using a method called the 4-7-8 technique in bed, you can both relax your mind and reduce your heart rate.
•Lock the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth
•Hold it there as you close your mouth
•Breathe in for 4 seconds
•Hold the breath for 7 seconds
•Exhale for 8 seconds
Repeat this up to 5 times every night as part of your bedtime routine.
TO HELP YOU UNWIND
TO HELP YOU DRIFT OFF TO SLEEP
Once you have gone through your bedtime ritual and you are in bed, ready to sleep, transport yourself in to a setting that makes you feel happy, where you are doing something active which you are participating in.
Set yourself into a scene where you have a series of steps to walk through. This process will force your brain to detach from your daily world and allow your mind to relax and help you fall to sleep.
Perhaps this is your favourite place or a setting on holiday, or maybe you are opening batting for England at Lords. If you enjoy shopping and find it relaxing this could even be shopping at your favourite centre, walking through the various shops and stalls and picking up the items you want and need. You might be in your garden, enjoying planting, watering and nurturing.
ROLL YOUR EYES BACK
TELL YOURSELF NOT TO SLEEP
BREATHING THROUGH YOUR LEFT NOSTRIL
LISTEN TO SLOW MUSIC
GIVE YOURSELF ACUPRESSURE
Acupressure is based on pressing the acupuncture points of the body with our fingers rather than a needle. There are a number of special acupressure points in the body which we can press gently but firmly to help make us feel sleepy.
The first is your ‘third eye point’ which is located between your eyebrows at the top of the nose. This point is in the bend where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead.
The next is between your big toe and second toe, on top of the foot in the depression between them.
There is also a point just below the nail and on the upper side of your second toe. There is also one on the sole of your foot, which is one third of the way back from the tips of your toes in the middle of the sole of the foot.
You can try different techniques such as pressing these points for a minute or two, or holding for 20 seconds then pausing and repeating twice more, as both can work.
Great help and advice on mindfulness is available from The Mindfulness Project, via their website and mindfulness courses at their London centre, www.londonmindful.com
You can read our sleep guide in full, here. Tell us what you think, we would love to hear from you!
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Whilst great care has been taken compiling the information within this guide, it is intended as a resource for general information only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your GP if you have ongoing problems or concerns regarding your sleep.
The statements and suggestions made within the text have not been evaluated by the NHS and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness.
Always consult with your healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking or stopping any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have any health problem.
22 Warren Evans survey, 2016
23 Broomfield, et al 2003
24 Hamed et al J adv Nurse, 2008
*Warren Evans Consumer Research conducted by OnePoll from 26th - 28th October 2016. 1,000 people polled