Relaxation Techniques for Sleeping Soundly
In the face of stress, sleep disorders and similar problems, sleep relaxation techniques are the key to a good night’s rest. Relaxation techniques for sleep decrease the wear and tear on your mind and body created by the challenges and hassles of daily life to help you reduce stress symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.
The Health Benefits of Sleep Relaxation
Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you've already got it tamed, you can benefit from employing the sleep relaxation techniques recommended by the staff of The Mayo Clinic. Practicing sleep relaxation can help reduce stress symptoms and prepare you for healthful sleep by:
- Slowing your heart rate and breathing rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
- Improving concentration
The Three Main Types of Relaxation Techniques for Sleep
There are three main types of relaxation techniques for sleep – autogenic relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization.
Autogenic relaxation. In this relaxation technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. Repeat words or suggestions in your mind to help you relax and reduce muscle tension. You may imagine a peaceful place and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate, or feeling different physical sensations, such as relaxing each arm or leg one by one.
Progressive muscle relaxation. To employ this muscle relaxation technique, start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively work your way up to the neck and head. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds, then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat. Focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group, becoming more aware of physical sensations.
Visualization. To employ visualization, first close your eyes, sit in a quiet spot and loosen any tight clothing. Form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. Try to use as many senses as you can, including smell, sight, sound and touch. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about such things as the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves and the warmth of the sun on your body.
Additional Sleep Relaxation Techniques
Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, doctors and psychotherapists can teach various relaxation techniques, but if you prefer, you can also learn some relaxation techniques on your own. The good news is, learning basic relaxation techniques is easy, often free or low cost, and poses little risk. In general, relaxation techniques involve refocusing your attention to something calming and increasing awareness of your body. Common techniques include:
- Listening to music
- Therapeutic massage
It doesn't necessarily matter which relaxation technique you choose, only that you try to practice relaxation regularly to reap the benefits. Remember that relaxation techniques are skills, and your ability to relax improves with practice. Be patient with yourself — don't let your effort to practice these techniques become yet another stressor.
If you are suffering from a sleep problem and looking for additional relaxation techniques to reduce stress in your life, consult with a doctor or visit a sleep center for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: In rare cases, some people – especially those with serious psychological issues and a history of abuse – may experience feelings of emotional discomfort during some relaxation techniques. If you experience emotional discomfort during relaxation techniques, stop what you're doing and consider talking to your health care professional or mental health provider.