Did you know that stress and anxiety are the cause of many sleep issues? Life happens to all of us and even the best sleepers may go through periods where they have trouble sleeping. The body’s response to stress is not necessarily one that benefits your sleep cycle and can lead to other sleep issues such as insomnia.
Luckily there are a few simple techniques that can be implemented to help you relax before bedtime. You don’t need to be a meditation or yoga expert to take advantage of these and you certainly don’t need to do it perfectly the first time.
Practicing a few slow deep breaths can be very beneficial in helping you to relax. Find a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly for about five minutes. Place a hand on your stomach, just under your lungs, and feel your diaphragm expanding as you breathe.
Body Scan & Muscle Relaxation
These are both very common meditative practices that can be used by anyone if you wish to let go of any tension in parts of your body. A body scan takes you through all parts of your body from head to toe, guiding you through visualization exercises to relax each part of the body through deep breathing. Progressive muscle relaxation is where you tense up your muscles in a specific group for a few seconds, then release, continuing to breathe slowly and deeply the entire time. This can be a new concept for many people but there are lots of videos on Youtube and apps like Calm and Headspace to help guide you through these exercises.
If parts of your body are feeling tense, it can be a good idea to stretch it out! This can be fantastic if you are feeling the physical effects of stress and anxiety, or if you have done a lot of physical activity and your body may be feeling sore. There are lots of fitness apps and Youtube videos with some good nighttime stretch routines to help you relax.
Practicing good sleep habits
As always, make sure you are practicing good bedtime habits to make the most out of your sleep. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea, turn off your phone, and read a good book as you are going to sleep to help you get into a state of relaxation.