4 Mental Tricks to Help You Sleep Better - Home & Texture
Bedroom Exercises for Better Sleep

4 Mental Exercises That Can Actually Help You Sleep Better at Night

Drift off into dreamland with a little more ease.

June 4, 2024 at 6:58 PM PST
Updated on June 4, 2024 at 6:58 PM PST
Bedroom Exercises for Better Sleep

4 Mental Exercises That Can Actually Help You Sleep Better at Night

Drift off into dreamland with a little more ease.

June 4, 2024 at 6:58 PM PST
Updated on June 4, 2024 at 6:58 PM PST

If you’re one of the many individuals who have trouble falling asleep, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly 30 percent of adults have symptoms of insomnia. Deep, restful sleep can be difficult to reach, but counting sheep is not it. Here are a few methods you can try to help you drift off into dreamland with a little more ease.

1. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is all about staying present and fully engaging with the here and now. It’s not about quieting your mind, it’s about observing your thoughts, without judgment or attachment so they don’t have as much power over you. Mindfulness meditation has been proven to quiet your mind, reduce stress, and create a state of calm that’s perfect for sleep.

How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

  • Find a Comfortable Position: You can sit or lie down—whatever feels most comfortable for you.
  • Focus on Your Breathing: Take slow, deep breaths. Pay attention to the sensation of the air entering and leaving your body. Send your breath to your lower belly, allowing your belly to rise, followed by your chest. On your exhale, breathe out from your lungs first, then your belly so your chest lowers, then your belly lowers.
  • Notice Your Thoughts: Inevitably, your mind will wander. When it does, gently bring your focus back to your breath, and give your brain some help by giving it a job—count. Counting your inhale gives your mind something to focus on, and you can challenge yourself to breathe in deeper and longer.
  • Scan Your Body: Starting from your toes, slowly work your way up to your head, noticing any areas of tension and consciously relaxing them. On each exhale, try and relax a new part that feels tense.
  • Stay Present: Continue focusing on your breath and the sensations in your body for as long as you like. Even just a few minutes can be beneficial.

The more you practice, the more you’ll begin to experience its benefits. Simple, and free!

Photo credit: Mavocado

2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is like giving your body a gentle massage without actually moving a muscle. It involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups, which can help release physical tension and signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.

How to Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  • Get Comfortable: Lie down in your bed and take a few deep breaths.
  • Start From the Top: Begin with your face. Tense the muscles in your forehead and hold for a few seconds, then slowly release.
  • Work Your Way Down: Move to your jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, and so on, all the way down to your toes. Tense each muscle group for a few seconds before relaxing.
  • Focus on the Release: Pay close attention to the sensation of the muscles relaxing. Imagine the tension melting away.

By the time you reach your toes, you should feel a deep sense of relaxation that makes it easier to drift off. It’s like giving your body a gentle nudge towards sleep.

3. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Breathing is something we do without thinking, but when done mindfully, it can be a powerful tool to calm the mind and prepare for sleep. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” is particularly effective for reducing stress and inducing sleep.

How to Practice the 4-7-8 Breath

  • Exhale Completely: Start by exhaling completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Inhale Quietly: Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold Your Breath: Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale Audibly: Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • Repeat: Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

The 4-7-8 technique helps slow down your heart rate and relax your nervous system, making it easier to fall asleep. It’s like giving your body a gentle reminder to switch from “day mode” to “night mode.”

Photo credit: Milko

4. Keep a Sleep Diary

Sometimes, your sleep troubles stem from patterns you don’t even realize you’re following. Keeping a sleep diary can help you track your sleep habits, identify issues, and make necessary adjustments.

How to Use a Sleep Diary

  • Record Daily: Each morning, jot down details about the previous night’s sleep. Note the time you went to bed, how long it took to fall asleep, the number of times you woke up, and the total hours of sleep.
  • Include Daytime Habits: Write down factors that could affect your sleep, such as caffeine or alcohol consumption, exercise, stress levels, and napping.
  • Look for Patterns: After a couple of weeks, review your diary. Are there patterns or habits that correlate with better or worse sleep?

Keeping a sleep diary can provide some helpful insights into your sleep routine, helping you make informed changes. Plus, it gives you a sense of control over your sleep habits, which in itself can be reassuring and beneficial.



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