I Can’t Get No Sleep: Relaxation tips for sleeplessness

Sleeping Puppy

I’m a big advocate for a good night’s sleep, it’s essential for recharging the body and the mind. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a poor immune system, not to mention irritability and moodiness.

Sleep is also important for your brain; the process of memory consolidation happens when we sleep, allowing the brain to commit new information we have learnt throughout the day. Needless to say, sleep is important for us to be less walking zombie and more functioning human being.

I haven’t been sleeping very well lately. I have WAY too much on my mind and I’ve been spending time lying in bed making mental checklists and silently singing Insomnia by Faithless instead of sleeping.  After about 20 mins of not falling asleep I usually decide it’s time to implement one of my ‘Go to Sleep’ tactics.

I almost always have success with at least one of these techniques, although sometimes I do need to go through all three before I get success. Next time you can’t sleep give one a go and see if they work for you.

  • Ujjayi breathing – this is a common breathing technique used in yoga and involves constricting the throat so that it feels like you are breathing through a straw. It will create a small hissing sound, almost like a gentle snore. When you are having trouble sleeping practice a few rounds of ujjayi,  taking slow deep breaths and focussing on the sound made, this will help to quiet the mind and prepare you for sleep.
  • Stream Visualisation – this is a visualisation technique that I was taught by my boss a few years back, it involves visualising that you are lying beside a flowing river or stream. Once you have that image begin counting slowly from 1 to 10, if a thought pops up and interrupts your counting place it into the stream and watch it float away, then start counting from 1 to 10 again. You may have to do this a few times but eventually your mind will be clear and you will get so bored with counting to 10 you’ll drop right off to sleep.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation – this is a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing each of your muscles, I like to do this from head to toe but you can also go in the opposite direction. There is a variation of this often used in yoga nidra meditation where instead of tensing the muscle you gently place the focus on each part of the body. Both of these variations will help to relax your entire body and stop you from creating those mental checklists.

What are your favourite techniques for helping you get to sleep? Anyone count sheep?

L xx

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4 comments
  1. wartica said:

    I totally agree; my favorite is to do the diaphragmatic breathing and to rub my ears – in an up and down motion w/my thumb and index fingers. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

    • Diaphragmatic breathing is great for relaxation (and overall health). I’ve never tried rubbing my ears though, I’ll have to give that one a go next time, thanks for the tip :)

  2. Similar to the Progressive Muscle Relaxation, I imagine my body is filling with lead (or something equally heavy and slow-moving), starting at my feet and rolling up my body, making my limbs heavy and immobile. Normally by the time that it reaches my chest I’m gone.

    • I’m a big fan of visualisation, it’s great for relaxation and can be very cathartic (you may have just inspired a future post on visualisation meditation). And anything that makes your body feel heavy is good for making you feel sleepy.

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