Learn How To Sleep Better With These 9 Best Sleep Relaxation Techniques
So many people do not sleep well at night.
Whether they have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep (or both!), the causes of sleep troubles vary wildly, but the results are the same: frustration and exhaustion.
For some, it’s age. For others, it’s health problems like diabetes, heartburn, chronic pain, or a mental health disorder. Sometimes, it boils down to high levels of unnecessary stress.
No matter your root cause, all that frustration and exhaustion rarely leaves you feeling relaxed.
If you are not sleeping when you desperately want to be sleeping, you have a hard time letting your body and your mind actually rest. And when you are not relaxed, falling asleep is next to IMPOSSIBLE.
So maybe you have had a stressful day and need some help relaxing mind and body before falling asleep – or maybe getting sleep is a nightly, painful struggle for you – either way, I have 9 sleep relaxation techniques for you to try.
You can start tonight!
First, Set The Scene
Before you get to your sleep relaxation techniques, make sure you have created a sleep-friendly environment. This includes:
- Unplugging the electronics: Facebook and emails can wait until the morning
- Making the room cool: Between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal
- Eating/drinking the right things: Say no to sugar, caffeine and fried foods; say hello to magnesium-rich foods like half a banana with almond butter
- Keeping your bed for sleeping (and sex) only: Don’t bring work to your bed, don’t fold laundry on your bed – keep it your sacred sleeping space
Then you should also consider an all-natural sleeping supplement. These will not knock you out like a prescription sleeping pill.
Instead they will support your body’s sleeping functions to help you achieve your best night’s sleep. Look for the following ingredients:
- Valerian root
- Magnolia bar extract
- Chamomile flower extract
Your 9 Best Sleep Relaxation Techniques
Now that you’re ready to try these sleep relaxation techniques just remember: everybody is different. You may hate some of these; others may simply be ineffective for you. But there should be at least one or two options that effectively relax you enough that you can fall into a peaceful sleep.
So experiment. But don’t give up after just night one. Sometimes creating a pattern of relaxation is the key.
1. Bedtime Yoga & Stretching
Doing a simple, quiet, and calm yoga or stretching sequence before you hop into bed can be a great relaxation technique.
Don’t think an invigorating power yoga sequence here. You’re not trying to gain muscle strength or become the most flexible person in the world overnight. This is about calming the body, doing what feels good, and stretching out any tight places before you go to bed.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a 12-minute in-bed yoga video you can try:
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Better Sleep
This is a technique you can do while listening to an audio clip that guides you through the process, but you can also perform it on your own.
- Choose if you would like to go from toes to head or head to toes
- Start by breathing in and tensing the first muscle group (head or toes), not too hard as to leave you with pain or cramping
- Breathe out and relax that same muscle group completely
- Stay still for a few second and feel those relaxed muscles
- Continue until you have gone through all your muscle groups
If you are short on time, you can do “big sections” like head, upper body, lower body, and feet. But it can be even more effective to break it all down like one foot, lower leg, entire leg, other side, one hand, entire arm, other side, buttocks, stomach, etc.
3. Guided Imagery
The concept of guided imagery is simple: you visualize yourself in a peaceful place.
If you are lying in bed angry that you haven’t fallen asleep yet while going over everything that is stressing you out, you are not in a peaceful place. So let’s get you there in your brain.
You can find audio tracks that lead you through guided imagery, but you can easily do it yourself.
- Think of a special place that brings you feelings of total peace: maybe the beach, the woods, your grandmother’s house – maybe you’re on a boat or maybe you’re at the peak of a mountain.
- Picture yourself right there
- Now think about all of the details surrounding you, get your senses involved: what does it sound like (birds chirping, waves crashing), what does it smell like (warm baked bread, suntan lotion), what does it feel like (breeze on your face, hot sun on your skin)
- Stay there and use those senses to create the full imagery of being in that peaceful place
4. Deep Breathing for Better Sleep
By focusing on your breath, you are removing focus from your worries. There are countless breathing techniques you can try. I’m going to talk about two. Each one is extremely simple.
The first is deep breathing.
Remember when you were little and upset and your parent would tell you to take a deep breath to gather yourself? Turns out they were completely right. Deep breathing is extremely calming and science has backed it up.
The goal here is to take a few long, slow, deep breaths while paying close attention to the air entering and exiting your lungs.
Follow the journey of the air as it enters through your nose, filling up your lungs and belly. Then follow the journey of the air as it exits the way it came.
5. 4-7-8 Breathing
Now we move on to the next breathing technique. The 4-7-8 breathing is a counting breath you can utilize to help calm you before sleep.
Make sure you only try it for four full breath cycles the first time, then return to your normal breathing. You don’t want to feel lightheaded (but if you do, just switch to breathing normally and it will pass quickly.)
- Inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breathe for 7 seconds
- Exhale all the air through your mouth (it should make a “whooshing” sound) for 8 seconds
If the holding and exhaling segments are too long for you, simply speed up your counting. Make it a quick 4, a quick 7, and a quick 8.
6. Autogenic Training (AT)
Autogenic Training is a method for relaxation that has been around since the 1930s. You go through a series of various exercises like:
- Relaxing each muscle group by feeling heaviness or heat there: “My shoulders are heavy” or my “left leg is warm.”
- Paying attention to the heart and noticing its calm, regular beat
- Concentrating on the warmth of the belly and the coolness of the head
If you want to try autogenic training, there are multiple YouTube videos that take you through it. Here is one to get you started:
7. Sleep Sounds for Better Sleep
Choosing to fill your bedroom with relaxing sounds benefits you in two main ways:
- First off, you block out any noise – this is especially great if you live with many people or if you are in a noisy neighborhood or apartment complex
- And then, some sounds can actually bring you feelings of calm and peace
For many years people had to buy a sound machine to get the sound of rain or rustling trees or beach waves into their room at night, but today there are so many apps available on iPhone and Android that do the same.
The great thing is how diverse the sounds are. You can find calming “new age” style music, light rain, thunderstorms, beach waves, spa music, or anything else that makes you feel relaxed.
8. Get a Massage
While going to get regular, professional massages can definitely lower your general stress level (and then make it easier for you to sleep), it is not always practical or affordable. But self-massage before bed can be a form of self-care that helps you relax into sleep.
Keep an all-natural oil (like coconut or jojoba oil) near your bed, along with some soothing essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or roman chamomile. Add a drop or two of essential oils into a palm-full of the coconut or jojoba oil.
Give your neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and feet a massage before you lie down. Your muscles will relax and the scents will calm your mind.
10. Go and Meditate
Meditation has been scientifically proven to help you sleep. It can be helpful to include in your morning or during the middle of the day to keep your emotions and anxieties at bay as you move through your life.
This overall daily calmness can preemptively help your sleep.
For others, choosing to meditate right before bed is a great relaxation technique. Of course, you can combine your meditation with any of the other techniques I have mentioned like sound, breathing, or muscle relaxation.
You could also just sit in silence and repeat a mantra like: “I am calm, still, and grounded” or “All is well.”
The great thing about these nine sleep relaxation techniques is how flexible you can be with them. Maybe a combo of two or three gets you in the perfect mental and physical place to gently fall into sleep.
Or maybe including some of them throughout the day – instead of only right before bed – is really helpful for you.
Try to be open-minded and aware of your body. Give yourself permission to relax and feel comforted; this way your body can guide you into sleep more easily.