Twitchy minds and restless legs find it challenging to fall asleep, especially during stressful times. The inability to sleep is mainly caused from the brain, which is hardwired to overthink and analyze everything. And what your brain needs is to stop thinking and start relaxing. Meditation before bed promotes better sleep as it relaxes wandering minds and restores stressed bodies. Below are simple techniques to kickstart the relaxation wheels for better, healthier and more relaxing sleep.
5 to 1 Breathing Technique
This method includes matching the breath with mental counting. Deepening the breath is beneficial to promote relaxation and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. Lie in your bed and place one hand on the diaphragm and the other the chest. Inhale, and mentally count, “one, two, three, four and five,” thus matching the breath with a five-count inhalation. Slowly, exhale and mentally count “five, four, three, two and one,” thus matching the breath with a five-count exhalation. Repeat for five to 10 minute. When you are ready to progress, increase your breath to six seconds, making way to a maximum of a 10-second breath.
Visualization is beneficial to get the mind to focus on a scenario or scene that is relaxing. Choose a place that you find is relaxing, such as a beach, mountain or home landscape. Find yourself walking throughout this landscape and notice and experience the sights, sounds, smells and surroundings. Now find a rock or a ledge to find a place to sit and relax. Start breathing deep and notice the natural smells that are in the air. Notice your feelings of happiness, freedom and vitality. Now lie down on the beach or ground and allow yourself to continue to breathe while falling asleep in the nice, peaceful atmosphere.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique is a body scan, which includes muscular contraction and relaxation. As you inhale contract and exhale relax. Start to scan the body starting from the feet and moving upward toward the head. Include the toes/feet, right leg, left leg, glutes, abdominal, chest, shoulder blades, right hand, left hand, right arm, left arm, facial muscles and full body.
Get Present with Nature Sounds
Youtube and sleep apps are popular to provide videos which feature sounds from nature including rainfall, ocean waves or birds chirp in the distance. This allows the brain to relax, which assists in a meditation. This style of meditation includes being present in the moment without judgment or critique if the mind flutters.
Mantra meditation includes sitting or lying in a comfortable position while mentally repeating a word or phrase. This style is often more challenging for people, but realize that it comes with tremendous benefit. It’s over 6,000 years old and the chant brings the mind to a deeper brain wave state. Common mantras include “Om” (Aum sound universal vibration of the universe), “So Ham” (represents balance and yin yang symbol), or “I am.” If using the “I am” or a two syllable chant, inhale mentally speak “I” and exhale mentally chant “am.” Continue this for five to ten minutes.