Having trouble sleeping? Suffering from sleep apnea? Finding it hard to wind down after a stressful day at work? One thing that many of us have in common, if my friends are anything to go by, is the daily struggle to clear our minds and allow our bodies to properly rest. I had to try and find simple solutions for this myself, including using a Calm app for background noise and adding lower lights to help me get used to the darkness and fall into a rewarding night of rest. This post has five suggestions for finding ways of getting your body and mind prepared for a good night’s visit to the world of dreams.
1) Relaxation Technique
For me, this is the most effective way that I can get into the sleep zone, especially when I am feeling stressed and finding it difficult to totally unwind. Although it sounds like an effort it doesn’t take long and it’s origins lie with yoga, so it has some credibility.
Make sure that you lay flat on your back with your arms by your sides. Then spend a few seconds tightening every muscle group in your body from bottom to top. Usually I start by flexing my toes towards the ceiling at a right angle to my legs, then holding my calves tight and following with my knees and thighs etc until I am pushing my shoulders up against my ears. You can then finish by holding your facial muscles tense for a short time and then let go of everything. Each time you clench, make sure you take a couple of deep breaths. Take your time end enjoy feeling those muscles let go after each squeeze.
2) Listen to a soothing podcast
Most podcasts involve a lot of chatting and usually play relatively quiet background music and so provide a prefect backdrop to fall asleep against. Often I listen to one of my favourites as I drop off to sleep and then find I need to have another proper listen the morning after, as the content usually encourages me to feel dozy and then fall into a deep sleep. This is no reflection on the performers as it is the podcasts that I love most which are best at relaxing me and I often find myself sleeping through great chunks of their content.
3) Milky drink
Now, having spoken to lots of people about this, there is a consensus that having a hot, caffeine-free drink before going to bed is a great way to ease your way into a sleepy mood. Hot chocolate or even just ordinary hot milk are frequently and successfully used to help us relax after a hard day’s work. I find putting a mug of milk into the microwave for a minute and a half is plenty of time to get the milk steaming and prepare my tastebuds for the cosy zone.
4) Gentle Stretches
This really works. I wasn’t sure it would make much difference but as soon as I started exercising again and feeling achy, I started to stretch before bed as well as after doing a workout. For me, the best stretches are arm ones, especially holding my arms low and then making a large circle so that my arms then move above my head as I take a deep breath in. I let them them gently fall and let out the air before repeating this movement. Similarly, sitting on the floor with legs bent under me, leaning forwards and allowing my arms to reach out, whilst my head drops into the mat also helps to get your body relaxed. In yoga, this is referred to as ‘child’s pose’.
5) My Favourite – A Good Book
Nothing beats a good book! For me it is the way I finish most days. I love to curl up in bed with a lamp on and read a chapter of one of my current easy reads before I slump back and get drowsy enough to sleep. Reading definitely has a relaxing effect on me and I challenge you to read in bed and not feel more sleepy. The only problem is that I often find the book falls off the bed as a I don’t manage to stop before sinking into the world of slumber. For bedtime, paperback books are better than ebooks as they don’t have that hypnotic back light.
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