How to relax your body before sleep:
The final hour before bedtime is time for you to relax. Let’s start with four easy strategies to physically relax the body:
1. Turn off the gadgets.
Stop texting on your cellphone, stop sending and answering emails on your computer, and turn these devices off for the night. You should also turn off your TV at least an hour before sleep.
2. Try light yoga or Pilates stretches.
Gentle movement that ends in quiet meditation is fine before bedtime if it helps you relax your body and mind.
3. Pamper yourself.
Consider a long, hot bath or shower. The warm water will achieve two objectives: It will relax you as well as artificially raise your body temperature so it will fall quickly and trigger a rapid sleep onset if you go to bed afterward. Use a soothing lavender bath or shower gel and a scented body lotion if you enjoy aromatherapy.
4. Keep your feet warm.
You won't fall asleep with cold feet because your body temperature is not dropping. If your feet are cold, wear heated booties or socks to bed. Heating your feet will force your body temperature to drop quickly and trigger sleep onset.
How to shut down your mind before sleep:
After relaxing the body, it's time to calm your busy mind. Here's what I recommend:
1. Put on a relaxing guided meditation or nature sounds.
Make a 30- to 60-minute playlist. The best nature sounds are ocean waves or falling rain. Our brains are wired to attend to novelty. So, the continuous in-and-out rush of waves against a shoreline is very similar to a normal, slow breathing cycle, which will only occupy the brain’s attention for a short time before being ignored, allowing you to drift off to sleep. Your “thinking” brain literally gets bored and shuts down so you can fall asleep.
Don’t listen to an audiobook, as this will hold your brain’s attention.
2. Practice mindful breathing.
This is very important because the minute you shut off the lights for sleep, your mind is going to start up again. As long as your brain stays active thinking and worrying about what you did not get done or what you need to do the following day, you will not fall asleep. Focus your attention on controlling your breath.
3. Play white noise while you sleep.
Author:Deborah E. Sewitch, PhD, CPC