No matter how early you go to bed, if you’re having trouble falling asleep then all your good intentions may be for nothing. In today’s high-stress, fast-paced world, actually falling asleep with ease is a challenge for more people than you might guess.
So here are some ways to remove stress from your mind and body so that you can get some much-needed shuteye.
Although your body may be exhausted from a full and busy day, it’s usually racing thoughts or anxieties that keep you awake while you’d rather be sleeping. Therefore, it’s essential to practice relaxation techniques for your mind in order to sleep better.
Start by setting aside some time (between thirty minutes and an hour) before bed to ‘wind down’. This should be a stimulation-free time, so avoid the computer or texting. You can watch a little television if you find it helps you relax, just make sure it’s something low-octane, such as old sitcom reruns. If you’re religious or spiritual, prayer or meditation are great ways of relaxing the mind. Another technique is to take a ‘mental vacation’. This involves picturing your favourite place to be and imagining all of the sights, sounds and smells for a full sensory and relaxing experience.
Although it’s usually your mind that needs to switch off in order to sleep, all too often mental stresses and worries are manifested physically, so relaxing your body is just as important to a good night’s rest. Just ten minutes of deep breathing can help enormously with bringing your focus back to your body. During those ten minutes, focus on your breathing, and every time you find your thoughts wandering bring them back to focus again on breathing in and out deeply. Hot baths can also work wonders, as they not only relax any tense muscles but also raise your body temperature, which can act as a trigger to help you fall asleep. But one of the most important and easiest ways to sleep better is to take regular exercise – just make sure it’s at least three hours before bedtime to avoid revving yourself up.
There are a few strategies that are effective for both your mind and body – which is good news since you need to relax both in order to fall sleep. A hot cup of chamomile or passionflower tea can be physically relaxing, and some herbal remedies are good for calming racing thoughts as well. Diffusing aromatherapy essential oils can also have twofold effects, especially chamomile, rose, sandalwood, lavender, geranium and petitgrain varieties.