Devin Burke, your coaching guide to a peaceful night’s rest, shares the most effective relaxation techniques for better sleep.
Relaxation is an essential topic because it goes hand-in-hand with sleep. There are some amazing techniques to relax your body and mind so it can do what it does: sleep.
These strategies include:
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
- Breathing Exercises
- Binaural Beats (sound waves)
Before We Start
You must understand that we don’t employ these techniques to sleep but rather to induce relaxation, allowing sleep to happen naturally. I will share more on these and how you can use them to relax and achieve better sleep.
But this can be challenging for some people who use these techniques so they can sleep. If this describes you, you can get caught in a situation where you’re doing these, and you don’t fall asleep, which creates more anxiety and pressure regarding sleep.
You want to practice these methods to relax and allow sleep to happen naturally. Please don’t do them with the expectation that you will sleep; a vital distinction.
There are many different styles of meditation, and it is one of the most effective relaxation techniques for allowing better sleep. Regarding sleep, we will look at mindfulness meditation, a body scan technique, and mantra meditation.
Mindfulness Meditation is so powerful and effective that studies link it with improvements in sleep and insomnia. Mindfulness is the simple art of bringing your attention to present awareness.
The most basic and easy technique within the many styles of mindfulness meditation is becoming mindful of your breath, inhalation, and exhalation. You can do this by merely focusing your awareness as you inhale and then exhale.
You can count your breaths, but we’re not doing meditation training here. I will share some resources I have that help me practice mindfulness and improve my sleep and my life.
Body Scan Technique
Like mindfulness, this technique brings awareness to different body parts. You can begin with your head and work your way down to your feet or begin with your feet and work your way up.
For example, focus your attention on your feet, feel your toes, recognize the sensations in your toes, and recognize the pressure, heat, and moisture.
Again, we are focusing on the techniques rather than specific training.
My goal is to explain the different types of meditation that are so effective for inducing relaxation and then sleep.
Mantra meditation is very simple; it focuses on a word or phrase known as a mantra, which arises from transcendental meditation and its weekend training courses. You repeat the mantra (a word or phrase) traditionally Sanskrit, but it can be anything.
It could be release, release, release.
Whenever and to whatever your mind wanders, be it past or future, you can bring it back to the mantra, your chosen word. This strategy can be highly effective for relaxing the mind and allowing the body to relax.
One resource I love, use daily, and highly recommend is called Waking Up. The Waking Up app by Sam Harris is incredible for learning mindfulness meditation and many different techniques to improve your sleep and your life by helping you wake up to the truth of who you are.
Headspace is another app for those just getting into meditation or wanting something a little lighter style. This well-established app does a great job of making it fun and understandable.
If you are not consistently meditating, try each of these apps for a month to see which you like better, and invest in using them as a resource to help you stay consistent because consistent meditation is compelling.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
For this technique, you consciously tighten specific muscles, beginning with contracting and clenching your feet, then relaxing them repeatedly. Next, you move up your body like the body scan technique.
As you do this, you will notice that you already hold tension in certain areas of your body. Bring focus and awareness to these areas, consciously tensing them and consciously allowing the muscles to relax releases and relaxes your whole body. This unique technique is very effective for improving sleep and inducing relaxation. PMA is a simple practice of tensing and tightening muscles over several minutes.
One of my favorites, Breath Work, is an incredible technique available anytime to induce relaxation and drift off to sleep. We all have our breath, and we can do this exercise any time to help us shift out of sympathetic, fight or flight into a relaxation, rest, and digest state.
Breathwork is learning how to breathe into your diaphragm. Many of us become chest breathers during our life. But if you observe a baby, it breaths from the belly because babies are relaxed or joyful.
At some point in our lives, usually due to trauma, we start to become chest breeders and learn to breathe more shallowly and from our chest. This shallow breathing can keep us in a state of stress with the stress switch always on.
When we consciously breathe down into our diaphragm and expand oxygen into the lower lobes of the lungs, it is quite effective for relaxation. This is a beginner technique. If you are disconnected from your diaphragm, you want to begin practicing diaphragmatic breath.
Put your hand on your stomach, inhale through your nose deep into the diaphragm, and keep doing that to retrain your body to breathe correctly once more.
You can take it a step further with a 4, 7, 8 breathing technique where you inhale for a count of four, hold for seven, and then exhale for eight. Do this ten times, and you will feel more relaxed by the end.
Similarly, breathe through your nose, hold, and exhale through your mouth. Doing a couple of rounds of this before can help allow your body to slip into a peaceful sleep.
This last technique I want to share with you is a really cool technology. Essentially, it entrains your brain into different brainwave patterns that allow your mind to relax, and then your body follows. We are in different brainwave states throughout our waking hours and sleep: theta, alpha, and beta.
Listening to specific frequencies can entrain our brains and put us in a Delta sleep state. These patterns are associated with dreaming, meditation, and creativity. Again, there are specific frequencies that we can listen to that put us in this theta condition.
Depending on the frequency, you can also use binaural beats to increase focus during the day and bring your energy up or down—the Brain.FM app provides numerous different binaural beats to improve daytime focus or help you relax and prepare for sleep.
Choose a technique, practice it consistently for a week, and see how your sleep improves. Remember, you’re not doing these relaxation techniques to sleep but to put yourself in a relaxed state so that you have the opportunity for sleep to happen.
Numerous methods, strategies, apps, and other resources help bring your body into a relaxed state to do what it does – fall asleep naturally.
This article provides insight into the best techniques we find most successful in inducing relaxation to allow sleep to happen. We recommend taking some time to research the options and determine those that best fit your circumstances.
Proper support often makes a massive difference in discerning your best options and consistently implementing solutions. Sleep Science Academy’s targeted and empowering Dynamic Sleep Recalibration (DSR) program is the most successful natural remedy for sleep issues.
Every client works with their certified holistic health/sleep coach, who develops a customized treatment plan for their needs and lifestyle. Coaches can choose from numerous modalities and techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), mindfulness practices, acceptance strategies, NLP, and many more proven strategies for the ideal solution for their client.
Why fight this battle on your own when Sleep Science Academy is here to support and guide you to reach your goals, live a more productive life, and get the restorative rest you need and deserve? Contact us today to schedule your free sleep consultation with one of our certified sleep coaches and discover the Sleep Science Academy Difference for yourself.