If you struggle to fall asleep at night, endlessly toss and turn, or wake up stiff and tired, practicing mindfulness may help. Being mindful means dedicating your full attention to something. Here are seven ways to foster mindfulness and improve your rest:
Create the ideal sleep environment
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary dedicated to relaxing. Too often, our bedrooms are multi-purpose rooms that include televisions, computers, gym equipment and other items. Turn your bedroom into a space with just one focus—sleep.
A good sleeping environment has soft colors and minimal visual distractions, and it’s quiet. Even devices with fans that run when they’re on standby can be noisy. Light from devices inside and from streetlights or cars outside can prevent you from sleeping, too. Use heavy curtains to block out external light and take all devices out of the room.
Our attention spans are getting shorter, and it is very easy to get distracted. Scrolling through social media on your phone or messaging friends just before you try to go to sleep can keep your mind awake.
Blinking lights from your computer or television can distract your body and prevent it from relaxing. All these distractions need to go, and you should discipline yourself to ignore the temptation of your phone.
Focus on your breathing
Take a moment to focus on your breathing, calm down and relax your body. If your breathing is relaxed, sleep becomes the next natural state. Climb into bed and get comfortable, then bring all your thoughts and attention to your breathing patterns. Inhale and exhale in slow, measured breaths.
The physical act of measured, controlled breathing will calm your body and slow your heart rate, getting you ready for sleep. When you focus your mind on your breathing, you cut out thoughts about your day, stress from work, or anything else that may distract you and keep you awake.
Stretch or mildly exercise
Intense cardio exercise before bed can make you think that your tired body will fall asleep quickly. This is not the case. Endorphins are running high after a run, cycle or aerobics class, making you alert. Gentle exercise allows your body to relax and fall asleep more easily. Consider stretching to release tight muscles before you hop into bed.
If you can only exercise in the evenings, do workouts such as walking, swimming or light resistance training in the four hours before bed. Try not to raise your body temperature or heart rate too much and finish your workout at least 90 minutes before you plan to sleep.
Schedule meals correctly
Eating a large, heavy meal just before bed is not conducive to good rest. Your body will still be trying to digest food while you’re trying to turn your internal systems into standby mode. Eat your last meal for the day around three hours before bed. This will give your body enough time to digest the food before sleeping.
If you’re hungry before you go to bed, have a small snack. Eat fruit or vegetables or a small portion of protein. These are nutritious and will add value to your body, rather than breaking down into sugar that will turn into fat while you sleep.
Learn to quiet your mind
A racing mind is one of the major complaints that people have when unable to fall asleep. They’re too busy thinking about the past and future and not being mindful of the present. An internal monologue that dwells on what’s already happened or fixates on what’s to come will keep you awake for hours.
Quiet your mind and let thoughts drift away. Read a book, think about places or people you love, or observe and enjoy your quiet space. These activities will keep your mind from churning.
Use relaxation techniques
If your body is tense, it’s alert and wide awake. Whether the tension comes from stress, worry, or a physical ailment, it’s essential to learn how to relax. Visualization techniques help your mind become calm. Imagine a warm liquid filling your body, starting at your toes and slowly moving up to your head.
Another technique is to flex and relax the muscle groups in your body as you lie in bed. Start with your calves and then move on to your quadriceps, glutes, abdominal muscles and so on. Hold for about five seconds before releasing and then repeat after about 30 seconds.
It may take time to create a new mindfulness routine, but a good night’s rest goes a long way to keeping you happy, healthy and revitalized. Questions? Bronston Chiropractic and Community Care Clinics are here to help you. Call us at 608.781.2225.
Source: Jamie Benjamin, ACA Hands Down Better