Millions of people around the world struggle to get a good nights sleep. There are many reasons why this happens, most typically relating to things such as stress – which often keeps people awake at night. Other factors include artificial blue light, and caffeine – both of which keep the mind and body stimulated (not ideal at nighttime!)
Sleep Is Extremely Important
A lack of sleep has a serious impact on your physical and mental well-being, such as fatigue – making you more irritable. Lack of sleep also increases the risk of health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Are struggling to sleep well at night?
If you said YES…
Then consider trying some of these mindfulness techniques which will help you relax before bed, increasing the likelihood of getting a good nights sleep…
A simple yet effective sleep exercise. Slow, and deep breathing is a great place to start if you want to lower your heart rate, and help your muscles relax.
When we are stressed at night, worrying about things – the heart speeds up, and stress hormones are released into the body. Your body is in fight or flight mode – and the stress stops you from going into a deep sleep. Slow and mindful breathing does the opposite, it helps you to relax – which is needed for a good nights sleep.
Exercise – Start by breathing in a long, deep breath through your nose. Hold your breath for 2s, and then exhale through the mouth – taking 4-5 seconds. Repeat this process continually, focusing solely on the breath.
When you find your mind wandering (which is normal!), simply go back to focusing on the deep breathing pattern. Eventually, if you keep doing this you will drift into a peaceful sleep.
The Body Scan Practice
Another effective mindfulness technique that can help encourage a good night’s sleep is the body scan practice. This exercise is about focusing on specific parts of the body, to help them relax. It’s also a distraction from regular and stressful thoughts.
There are many ways to do this and it’s a very simple practice…
Exercise – You can do this exercise either sitting or lying down – whatever makes you the most comfortable. Start by breathing in (take 3s inhaling), then hold the breathe for 3s, before finally exhaling for 6s. Do 5 rounds like this to get your body nice and relaxed…
Then go through each muscle in the body starting from the bottom and working up: the calves, thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, back, arms, and neck…
Once more relaxed… work your way through each muscle – focus on it for 5-10s, let your breathing be natural (don’t worry about counting breaths anymore) – instead focus on the muscle, and relaxing each one.
Being Mindful All Day
You don’t need to try your mindfulness techniques just before you go to bed for them to improve your sleep – practicing mindfulness techniques throughout the day can be just as effective!
Being more mindful throughout the day can help you to deal with each stressor as and when it happens – rather than letting them all build up. Taking yourself off autopilot and doing a few simple breathing exercises when you feel stressed can make a positive impact on both mental and physical health.
Spa-hotels.ie say that if you were to spend just 20 minutes each day meditating – no matter what time of the day – you’ll be much calmer and be more in tune with your body. You’ll be much better equipped to relax at any point during the day thanks to practicing mindfulness techniques.
Remove All Tech Distractions
Devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops can have an adverse impact on sleep, as the blue lights produced from screens interrupts the circadian rhythm – resulting in poor sleep quality.
Lots of people do it, BUT spending time just before bed in front of the TV, or scrolling through social media, will negatively impact your sleep. The light will prevent your body from realising melatonin (a hormone that signals the body to get ready for sleep).
Instead, switch off your phone and TV at least one hour before bed and opt to read a book. If you don’t like reading you could listen to an audiobook or take a nice relaxing bath.
Adjust Your Sleeping Environment
What does your bedroom look like?
Is it dark? and comfy? or is it light full of light and not very relaxing?
To help your body go into a deep sleep you need to make your room as dark as possible – you can do this with blackout blinds. Failing that you could use a sleeping mask to block out any light.
Alongside making your room dark, you also want to make it fairly cool. Your body temperature needs to drop by 1 degree in order to fall asleep. Make-sure your room is well ventilated, and cool before bedtime.
Finally, you want to make your bedroom nice and relaxing. Simple things such as making the bed, and having a comfy duvet can make a BIG difference to your sleep quality.