I used to have a very hard time falling asleep at night because when I got into bed my mind would race a mile a minute. I would be thinking frantically about events of the day, and things I said that I wished I hadn’t. Sounds so fun, right? No wonder I couldn’t fall asleep!
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but many of us don’t get that.
Until I learned to let go of my day, I couldn’t relax into sleep. Ultimately, because I couldn’t relax into sleep I turned to sleeping pills, which led to an addiction. The more mindful I became during the day thanks to my self-care practices, and the more compassion I began to have for myself, the more I realized that things about my bedtime routine needed to change. It took two years, but I finally felt ready.
I gained the confidence to turn my habits around, and worked hard to teach myself how to fall asleep naturally. As scary as it was at first, I can now get into bed and fall asleep. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing this feels after years of struggle.
If you also struggle with falling asleep because your mind can’t shut down at night, these tools should really help!
Letting go of the day journaling
It’s amazing how the little things can really make a big impact. I have no clue why this simple technique works like magic, but it does!
- Take a piece of paper and write down everything you did that day. Significant and insignificant too.
- Next to each item write down one adjective for how it made you feel. It can be negative, positive or neutral. (examples are excited, surprised, bored, judged, happy, sad)
- Turn the paper over and rewrite all the positive things and their adjectives.
- Walk to your toilet or trash can and rip up the paper into tiny pieces. Literally, say “goodbye” to your day. Throw the pieces in the toilet and flush, or throw in the trash can.
- Tell yourself tomorrow is a brand new day. Everything from today is done.
6. Get into bed.
This is a very relaxing breath to do before bed.
- Lay down.
- Place your hand on your lower belly, right below your belly button.
- As you breathe feel your hand rise. It’s almost like you are blowing up a balloon in your belly as you inhale.
- Exhale and let all the air out of your balloon.
5. Repeat 9 times.
This can be another great way to unwind and relax into sleep. When I was transitioning off sleeping pills I used all three of these tools every night. Body scans are great before bed, or you can do any type of breath work for a few minutes. You can do it on your own, or use a guided meditation. I like to count my breaths. I breathe in and silently think “1,” breathe out and think “2” and follow that pattern up to ten, and then start over.
Do a Body Scan
When our bodies are tense it makes it harder for our minds to relax. I do a quick body scan each night when I get into bed to be sure that I have released any tension from the day. Here are the simple steps to do a body scan:
- Lay down.
- Slowly relax each part of your body starting with your face and moving toward your toes.
- If you find tension anywhere breathe into it and allow that body part to relax.
- Pay special attention to your jaw, shoulders, chest and belly.
I hope that these tools help you to let go of your day and fall asleep faster!
Originally published at www.atozenmeditation.com on August 30, 2016.