New Health Advisor

Relaxation Techniques for Sleep

Aug 23, 2016

Occupied mind, heavy workload, and watching too much television all are the contributing factors to low-quality sleep or insomnia. There are various techniques and devices to help in the situation, including eye masks, earplugs, and sleeping pills. However, they are only short-term solutions to sleep deprivation and sleep disorders. On the contrary, relaxation techniques will go a long way in helping you find a better sleep.

Relaxation Techniques for Sleep

1.   Progressive Muscle Relaxation

You can fall asleep faster by relaxing muscles. During this process, focus on each muscle group in the body; tense the selected muscles for several seconds before relaxing them gradually over 20-30 seconds. The whole relaxation progress takes about 10-15 minutes. To do this, you need a quiet space free from any kind of distractions. 

  • Face – lift the eyebrows to aid in wrinkling the forehead; thereafter relax and let out the tension in the area. Close the eyes tightly and then relax and open them slowly. Tense the cheeks, lips and jaw muscles by putting a grimacing face, and then relax the facial muscles.
  • Shoulders and arms – bring the shoulders towards the ears by tensing the muscles; thereafter relax them slowly. Start with the upper arms by flexing the biceps; then relax them before letting out the tension in the muscle group. Tense the forearms before slowly letting them out.
  • Chest and abdomen – take a deep breath and then tense the muscles on your abdominal and chest area, slowly exhaling as you release these muscles.
  • Back – flex the muscles on the back in a way as you arch on a bed or floor; thereafter relax and let the stress and tension out of the back muscles.
  • Hips and buttocks – tighten the muscles of the buttocks and hip area, then slowly release the tension and feel the comfort as stress leaves.
  • Legs and feet – flex the leg muscles and squeeze the legs together before relaxing them slowly. Curl the toes and relax them slowly to a normal position.

After stretching the muscles systematically as indicated in the procedure, you should feel calm and relaxed.

2.   Deep Breathing

Concentrating on deep breathing is one of the best relaxation techniques for sleep. It has also been used in yoga and martial arts to calm the system and bring synchrony.

  • While lying on your back, use the progressive relaxation technique described earlier to relax your whole body.
  • Begin by inhaling slowly through the nose. Fill the lower chest areas first, then moving to the middle and upper chest and lungs. It is advised that you do this slowly over 8-10 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for 1-3 seconds, and then slowly and quietly release the air out.
  • Wait for several seconds before repeating this procedure.
  • Continue with this breathing technique until you fall asleep.
  • In case you feel dizzy, avoid overdoing the exercise.

3.   Guided Imagery

This technique can help you get to sleep by visualizing yourself in a peaceful and calm setting.

  • While lying on your back, close your eyes.
  • Imagine that you are in your favorite peaceful place based on your preference, either in a sunny beach or in your own backyard. Once you are there, see and feel the surrounding, enjoy the breeze and concentrate on the peaceful sounds as you meditate. 
  • You can come to the same place every night and as time goes by, you will be able to sleep without any anxiety or panic, as this becomes your sleep conditioner.

4.   Massage

Massage is another one of the great relaxation techniques for sleep; it is effective in relaxing the mind and the body. There are numerous massage techniques; you can consult a certified massage therapist and choose the right ones based on your conditions. Deep tissue massage will relieve tension on your muscles to help you get to sleep.

5.   Quiet Ears

  • While lying on your back, close your eyes.
  • Place the hands behind your head and feel relaxed; place the thumbs in the ears so that you close the ear canal.
  • In this position, you should hear a high-pitched rushing sound; listen to the sound for 10-15 minutes.
  • Put your arms at the side, and relax them.

6.   Hypnosis

Hypnosis helps to induce sleep by bringing deep relaxation and enhancing focus to a meditation level. Hypnosis is often done by a qualified hypnotherapist or you can use CDs, books or training guides to hypnotize yourself. Hypnosis is effective in alleviating stress-related conditions.

7.   Meditation

Meditation is often described as a mental exercise. There are different types of meditation, ranging from Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation, Taoist meditation, transcendental meditation and others. Meditation helps in calming the mind and body, relieving any kind of stress and bringing forth reflection and contemplation.

More Ways for a Better Sleep

Besides the previous relaxation techniques for sleep, a change in sleeping pattern and habits can also help improve sleep quality. 

1.   Sleep Hygiene

The following set of regulations during and before sleep can help you get better sleep.

  • Avoid tea, coffee or alcohol, and other stimulants 4-6 hours before sleep.
  • Avoid smoking at night or before bedtime.
  • Avoid overly spiced foods or large meals before going to bed.
  • Involve yourself in more physical exercises during the day but avoid them before bed. 
  • Make the bedroom dark and quiet at a comfortable temperature.

2.   Stimulus Control

Stimulus control is designed in a way to improve sleep and wake cycle via the creation of an association between sleeping and the person’s bed. 

  • Make it a rule to go to bed only when you are tired.
  • Get up if you have difficulty with sleep again.
  • Only use the bed for sleeping and not for eating, reading or watching television.
  • Always get up at the same time in the morning.

3.   Limiting Sleep Time

Restrict the time that you spend in your bed. If you sleep for six hours, yet you lie in bed for eight hours, then you should spend a maximum of six hours in bed. Making these adjustments will help you get a suitable time frame.