You want to sleep and you need to sleep, but instead, you’re wide awake and feeling anxious about it. So what’s the problem? It could be countless things, but the solution is always the same – learn to relax. That’s easier said than done, of course, but when you learn to release whatever is keeping you up, the restful sleep you’ve been hoping for comes a lot more quickly. The next time you’re struggling to get to sleep, try one (or several) of the relaxation tips outlined below. Each one might not work for everyone, but if you try all of them out sincerely you’re likely to find one that works for you.
10 Tips to Help You Relax
- Create a Sleep Sanctuary – Here’s a paradox for you: when you can’t sleep you begin to worry about not sleeping, and that worry only makes it harder to sleep. It’s a vicious circle, but the root cause might be a bedroom that’s simply not conducive to sleep. You want it to be a comfortable temperature, usually between 60 and 65 degrees, and be free of distracting lights and loud noises. You also want to be lying on top of a mattress, sheets, and pillows you actually like. Bedrooms are for sleep first and foremost, so make sure yours provides the perfect environment to doze off and stay in dreamland.
- Unburden Your Mind – If you have a big or busy day coming up, you might lay awake thinking about all you need to do instead of getting the sleep you need to seize the day tomorrow. Pushing specific thoughts of your head is never easy, but one method that can work is writing things down in a notebook next to your bed. Make a quick to-do list, write a note to yourself, or simply put your thoughts down on paper. It sounds unbelievable, but once you get those thoughts out of your mind and onto the page, they often stay there the rest of the night.
- Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Tension in your body can cause or contribute to stress in your mind. Release that tension by progressively tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body. Start with your face, focusing on your forehead, followed by your eyes, and then your mouth. Hold each group tense for five seconds then relax for 10 seconds while breathing deeply before moving on to the next group. Continue on down your body, tensing each of your arms and legs separately. Plan to spend about 15 minutes on this exercise before finishing with your feet and toes. At the same time that you’re releasing tension, the act of focusing closely on discreet muscle groups helps distract you from whatever in your mind is keeping you awake.
- Hum Softly to Yourself – Humming has many of the same effects as deep breathing. It helps to calm you down, focus you on something besides the thoughts running around in your head, and even burn up a little bit of energy in the process. Humming can also help you to release tension from your neck and shoulders, which in turn helps release it from your whole body. Try to focus on humming generally rather than humming a specific melody. Be respectful of your sleeping partner too.
- Listen to Relaxing Sounds – There are some sounds that just about everyone finds relaxing – gentle waves or wind blowing through leaves are two good examples. Listening to these sounds on a bedside speaker or through a pair of headphones can help put your body in a relaxed mood while encouraging you to focus your thoughts on what you’re hearing. If you find some other sounds relaxing – music, speech, nature sounds, white noise, etc – use that instead. Just be sure that whatever you listen to is relaxing and not just distracting. The wrong choice could actually make it harder to sleep.
- Breathe Intentionally – This may be the simplest relaxation technique on the whole list. Simply breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for a full 8 seconds. Count out the seconds in your head so that you’re performing each step for the prescribed length. Deep breathing is known to produce a feeling of calm, and by focusing closely on the act itself you may be able to distract yourself from whatever is causing you stress.
- Transport Your Thoughts Elsewhere – When you’re stressed out it can feel impossible to think about anything else, but sometimes all you need to do is think about a memory or scenario that you find relaxing. It could be an image of you lounging on a sunny beach or walking through the woods on a hike – anything that helps you feel calm. Try to occupy the memory as much as possible, focusing on the little details, either remembered or imagined. It can take some time to master this technique, but once you learn to guide the images in your mind towards subjects you find relaxing, stress becomes a problem you can easily overcome.
- Enjoy a Snack – Midnight snacks aren’t just to indulge a craving. They can also help you relax when you’re struggling to get to sleep as long as you pick the right things. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, spicy snacks, or fatty foods because they can all keep you up. Foods like berries, yogurt, bananas, and chamomile tea all have the opposite effect. When you’re stressed-out is also a great time to treat yourself, so don’t feel guilty if you have a small piece of chocolate.
- Get Out of Bed – This may sound counter-intuitive, but when you’re lying awake you may want to get out of bed and get moving. Your bed is for sleep, but if it starts to become the place where you worry and stress it can stop being a source of relaxation and renewal. Try to keep your stress elsewhere by leaving your bedroom and restarting your sleep routine. It might be 30 minutes or an hour before you’re ready to get back in bed, but when you do you will hopefully have left your stress behind so that you can fall quickly into a deep state of sleep.
- Be Mindful – Mindfulness is essentially a combination of many of the techniques outlined above. It incorporates intentional breathing, guided thinking, and releasing tension from the muscles. It works a little differently for everyone, but in most cases, you practice mindfulness by putting relaxation at the center of your mind and body. People who practice mindfulness on a consistent basis often find they experience less stress overall, and when they do they’re able to overcome it in far less time. As a result, mindful people tend to get great sleep.
Sit ‘n Sleep – Your Relaxation Specialists
It’s hard to relax when you’re lying on top of a mattress that you don’t absolutely love. In fact, trying to sleep on the wrong mattress could be contributing to your stress and could even be the original source. If your mattress is more than 7 years old or poorly suited to your sleep needs, it’s time to consider a replacement. Explore today’s best options at one of the 38 Sit ‘n Sleep showrooms located throughout Southern California. Modern mattresses don’t just help you relax – they use the best of today’s sleep science to help you sleep faster, longer, and deeper night after night. Browse our website to learn about the impressive and affordable options in our inventory, and feel free to call us at 800-908-0354.