Sleep better: how to practise deep relaxation and fight insomnia

There's nothing that cuts into your productivity and overall well-being quite like poor sleep hygiene. Learn how to fight insomnia with these tips.

Sleep better: how to practise deep relaxation and fight insomnia

Practise deep relaxation

The pace of modern life can lead to stress and exhaustion, but just minutes of the right kind of relaxation can be enough to calm the mind and refresh the body. Find a quiet space, take off your shoes, loosen your clothing and try the following techniques.

Take a deep breath: Breathing exercises promote calm and clarity of mind, and ease tension. Lie on your back on the floor with your head cushioned and with something to rest the backs of your knees on.

From the diaphragm: Rest your hands on your abdomen and use your diaphragm to draw air into and then completely out of your lungs, as your hands move up and down with the rhythm. Deep, abdominal, breathing can be done in any comfortable position, sitting or lying.

Sink into the floor: Lie on your back with your spine aligned from neck to tailbone, feet up and arms a little way from your body.

  • Start to isolate, tense and relax different muscles from top to toe, concentrating in turn on each part of your body.
  • Crease your forehead for a count of five and relax. Do it again. Squeeze your eyes tight shut. Then move down your body.
  • When you have worked your way down to your ankles — one arm, one leg at a time — lie still, release all tension and imagine yourself floating.

Put insomnia to bed

Sleeping pills may knock you out, but they provide poor-quality sleep, may stay in your system in the daytime, encourage dependency and don't get to the root cause of your wakefulness. Try these drug-free solutions, instead.

  • Stress and worry can come between you and your sleep, so address these first, with simple relaxation techniques or a course of cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Take daily exercise — but not within four hours of bedtime. This helps combat stress and encourages restful sleep.
  • Adopt a bedtime routine and don't take daytime naps. A warm bath and a milky drink or camomile tea before going to bed can help to make you drowsy.
  • Avoid watching the clock and fretting as the minutes — and hours — tick by. If it takes you more than 30 minutes to drift off, get up and go to another room. Read or watch television for a while. Write down your worries and possible resolutions then put them from your mind until morning.
  • Address the fundamentals: peace, quiet and comfort. Choose a mattress and pillows that allow you the best sleeping posture, have freshly laundered bedclothes, put up heavy curtains to exclude the light and use earplugs if noise is a problem.
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