Relaxation Techniques Before Bedtime
Nearly one out of five people are dealing with the problem of insomnia. There can be many reasons for those sleepless nights. And this difficulty in sleeping is sometimes poorly understood.
Some recent surveys show that 44 percent of people consider stress a primary culprit behind this. So what are the ways in which people can cope with the problems of restless sleep due to stress? Of course, popping in sleeping pills cannot be a solution!
Let’s look at ways and relaxation techniques to help you counter your sleeplessness and manage stress levels.
The stress is real
Do you often toss and turn as soon as you hit the bed or spend most of your night staring at the ceiling?
Do you know that there is a strong connection between stress-related anxiety and insomnia?
When the body and mind are both under tension, there is an automatic release of the stress hormone cortisol. This leads to alertness and other physiological changes affecting breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.
This alertness does not let you sleep, and it becomes a challenge to counter this sleeplessness.
Relaxation Techniques: The resort to calmness and restful sleep
You can try to modulate and shut off this stress response by relaxing calming your mind and body, thus achieving physical and mental relaxation.
There are several relaxation techniques and exercises which can help trigger your body’s relaxation response, ultimately lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, slowing down your breath, and improving your ways of falling asleep faster and sleeping restfully.
This, in turn, can help to augment your overall health and well-being.
In short, this vicious cycle of lack of sleep, stress, and anxiety can be broken and taken in control by practicing simple relaxation techniques.
When integrated into your daily life, these relaxation techniques can help you manage stress and anxiety, thus stopping your racing thoughts.
Before You Begin
Here are a few tips that need to be considered before diving into various relaxation techniques and exercises.
- Combining these exercises with maintaining a regular sleep schedule and de-stressing yourself during the day is important for these exercises to work.
- Experimenting is the key; what works for the other person may not work for you, so keep experimenting to find the right one.
- You should work on these relaxation techniques regularly; they work on the mantra that practice makes a man perfect. Make it a habit to inculcate these in your daily life and not just one time/ short term.
Research studies have shown that people who engage in these exercises and relaxation techniques can sleep a little longer during the night than those who don’t.
There are different kinds of relaxation techniques that one can follow:
Breathing- The Stress Buster
Breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and 4-7-8 breathing:
Inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and then exhaling slowly, for eight seconds. A repetition of these steps several times helps your body relax and de-stress.
The process of slow breathing helps to augment your body’s oxygen levels. Slow inhaling, holding, and exhaling, being meditative, accustoms you to the process of falling asleep as it sends you in a mode of relaxation. Just before bedtime, doing these deep breathing exercises help to mimic sleeping onset and propel your mind and body towards a restful sleep.
This type of breathing uses muscles at the base of your lungs and helps you relax and de-stress.
- Lie down, placing one hand on the upper part of your chest and the other one on your belly, just below the ribs, and breathe from your belly.
- Breathe through your nose so that your belly pushes against your hand while your hand on the chest and the chest are still and not moving.
- After doing this, exhale through your lips which are pursed, as muscles in your belly are still tightened. Repeat the same steps several times.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is also called deep muscle relaxation/ Jacobson’s relaxation techniques. It is based on the principle of tensing and relaxing a specific group of muscles one by one.
The muscles which are involved in this process are those of hands, forearms, and wrists, shoulders, forehead, biceps, nose and eye muscles, muscles around jaws and cheeks, those around the mouth, back and front of the neck, muscles of stomach, chest, and back and also the muscles of the lower parts of the body such as hips, thighs, and legs.
- You can choose from any group of muscles and begin the technique.
- Lie down, breathe in and tense up the group of muscles you have chosen, and continue doing this for 5-10 secs.
- Following this, breathe out and loosen or relax them quickly.
- Continue to stay relaxed for 10-20 seconds before moving to the next muscle group.
Repeat these steps for all the muscle groups; after you have finished, put all your focus on the relaxed muscles and go into a peaceful sleep.
It involves focusing on different body parts and calming them down. This is done by consciously relaxing them.
Here, breathing techniques can be used to influence and achieve physical and mental relaxation, which comes from deep within.
The mind focuses on creating heaviness and warmth in various body parts, which leads to relaxation both physically and mentally.
The exercises can be done during the day or incorporated into your night routine to manage stress and bring calmness. Also, the exercises need to be done regularly to be effective in the long run.
Example: First, do some breathing exercises and get your body relaxed, and then start focusing on each part of your body like your hands. Keep all the attention on your hands, and focus on relaxing them. Similarly, do it for other body parts.
This relaxation technique is more visual, as you imagine and visualize calming, soothing, pleasant, and peaceful scenes. While doing this, you try to relax and bring yourself into slumber mode.
This relaxation technique is more complex than others as it involves some technology. There is a need for an electrical device such as an electrode/ a sensor that can measure and monitor different processes in your body. The device can monitor your heart rate, breathing, body temperature, etc.
You may need to visit a sleep specialist or a doctor for this type of monitoring. However, if you want to start from home, you can buy a smartwatch or a fitness tracker and measure these parameters.
You can then monitor and develop strategies to bring down your heart rate or blood pressure and improve your health.
A good night’s sleep can do wonders for your overall well-being. Using the right relaxation techniques and exercises to achieve this has become essential during these stressful times. So enjoy a deep, peaceful slumber sans stress and anxiety. For more information and tips on sleep and hygiene, download the JoyScore App!
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