6 Relaxation Techniques Before Bedtime to Improve Sleep Quality
Nothing is more frustrating than tossing and turning through the night, thoughts running through a brain that refuses to shut down. You glance at your clock multiple times during the night, becoming more frustrated as the hours tick by, knowing that the alarm clock is destined to ring and you have gotten a bad nights sleep. Again.
Sleep deprivation is a serious health problem and is very prevalent in our modern times. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 30% of adults in the U.S. do not get sufficient sleep on a regular basis. Adequate sleep is defined as seven hours of sleep or more. The CDC's study revealed interesting sleep trends with wide variances by state, indicating that regions where obesity and chronic health conditions are more prevalent also had lower sleep quality overall.
How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Health?
At first glance, one wouldn't think that being unable to get enough sleep would be that serious a problem. Sure, you may have dark circles under the eyes or spend the morning hours yawning, but there are actually severe health and behavioral consequences associated with sleep deprivation. These may include:
Like a vicious cycle, poor sleep quality can lead to serious health risks, and severe health conditions can lead to poor sleep quality. With this in mind, it seems the best approach to improving overall wellness is to find techniques that will help the mind and body to relax, allowing for more sound sleep.
6 Relaxation Techniques to Improve Sleep Quality
There are several relaxation techniques to access to wind down and achieving a solid night's sleep. Many of these can be provided by phone or computer applications, audio podcasts, and online videos. A mind is a powerful tool in inducing feelings of relaxation and reducing overall stress, and these techniques harness that power to help improve sleep quality:
1. Autogenic Training
This involves a series of exercises that direct the person’s attention to specific sensations in the body, helping achieve a sense of warmth and heaviness in the different areas of the body, resulting in deep relaxation. This is accomplished through verbal cues and guided imagery, with apps or YouTube tracts available online.
You can find out more here:
Involves imaging a peaceful, pleasant mental picture, a scene of something that immediately has calming effects. Combined with quiet, slow breathing, these guided imagery podcasts or apps can help the individual shift invading stressful thoughts toward thoughts that invoke a sense of peacefulness.
Check out here to learn more about Guided imagery:
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Deep muscle relaxation can lead to a better night’s sleep. This is accomplished by focusing on different groups of muscles, one group at a time from the feet up, and tensing the muscle while inhaling, hold for a count of 5; then exhaling while releasing the tension in the muscle.
Video illustration here:
4. Deep Breathing Exercises
By accessing the breathing process as a critical source of relaxation, this technique can be done anywhere at any time of the day. The method of deep breathing can produce physiological changes that help reduce muscle tension, slow the breathing rate, and lower blood pressure. The 4-7-8 technique involves inhaling deeply and slowly for a count of 4, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and then slowly exhaling all the breath over 8 seconds.
Check out the detailed video tutorial from Andrew Weil, M.D here:
5. Mindfulness Training
The practice of mindfulness is to purposefully acknowledge what you are experiencing, in your thoughts, your breathing, your body tension, and to draw the mind toward focused breathing slowly. By pushing ideas of what happened during the day or what tomorrow might bring, mindfulness helps the individual use energy only on mindful breathing, which can lead to deep relaxation.
Check out this video to learn more:
This procedure helps the individual become aware of what thoughts lead to muscle tension. Electrodes are placed on the body to measure pulse, muscle tension, sweat, body temperature, breathing rate, and brain activity. By monitoring the results on a screen, you can begin to see the pattern, and can then take steps to modify thoughts that lead to these manifestations. Biofeedback is available in wearable devices or at a practitioner’s office.
Training The Brain To Sleep-Biofeedback for Insomnia here:
Other Important Tips
There are several steps one can take to enhance their sleep experience. These might require establishing new habits, but the payoff will be profound as the positive effects of getting good sleep to begin to be experienced.
Improve your physical and mental health by practicing these techniques and tips that will help you experience deep, fulfilling sleep and improve your quality of life.
Marissa Katrin Maldonado has been working in the behavioral healthcare industry for over 13 years. She is the founder of The Treatment Specialist, a national online resource and helpline for those seeking treatment for addiction and mental health conditions. Dedicated to guiding individuals to the help they seek, Marissa believes that with the right support and guidance, those struggling will have the opportunity to turn their lives around and enjoy a healthy and happy life. She is a proud mother and wife and enjoys long distance running, traveling, and music.