How To: Use Mindfulness to Improve Sleep

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Being an adult is busy to say the least. When you aren’t working full time, you are trying to balance managing your health, your social life, your daily concrete responsibilities (rent, bills, etc.), and possibly even raising children. That alone is enough to leave your brain buzzing when you turn off the lights in your bedroom at night. With racing thoughts that never seem to end, it’s no wonder you have trouble falling asleep. Luckily, Mindfulness, a therapeutic technique used to increase awareness of the present moment, can double as a sleep aide. You know that heavy feeling you have when you wake up in the middle of the night that makes it oh so easy to fall back asleep? By doing a Mindfulness exercise at bedtime you will be able to replicate that experience and softly drift off into blissful slumber. The one I’m going to outline for you is called a body scan exercise. It involves slowly moving your attention from the bottom to the top of your body, relaxing each area as you move along. You will use your breath to guide you through the exercise. I’m going to outline it below:

Body Scan Bedtime Mindfulness

– As you breathe in slowly and deeply, allow your breath to bring your attention to your feet and ankles. As you breathe out slowly and deeply, allow yourself to breathe out tension and stress in your feet and ankles, relaxing those areas fully and allowing them to feel heavy.

– As you breathe in slowly and deeply, allow your breath to bring your attention to your calves and knees. As you breathe out slowly and deeply, allow yourself to breathe out tension and stress in your calves and knees, relaxing those areas fully and allowing them to feel heavy.

– As you breathe in slowly and deeply, allow your breath to bring your attention to your thighs. As you breathe out slowly and deeply, allow yourself to breathe out tension and stress in your thighs, relaxing those areas fully and allowing them to feel heavy.

– As you breathe in slowly and deeply, allow your breath to bring your attention to your bottom. As you breathe out slowly and deeply, allow yourself to breathe out tension and stress in your bottom, relaxing those areas fully and allowing them to feel heavy.

– As you breathe in slowly and deeply, allow your breath to bring your attention to your stomach and back. As you breathe out slowly and deeply, allow yourself to breathe out tension and stress in your stomach and back, relaxing those areas fully and allowing them to feel heavy.

……

And so on until you are at the top of your head. You may not even make it all the way through before you fall asleep! If you are awake when you finish, continue to breath in and out, deeply and slowly, and focus on your breath until you fall asleep.

Tips To Remember

  • When doing the exercise, lay in whatever position is comfortable for you to fall asleep in
  • The important thing is not that you move through the body in the exact same way that I outline. Rather, simply move your attention slowly up your body, relaxing each area as you go.
  • Don’t move any body part as you bring your attention to it. Simply bring your focus and awareness to that area.
  • If needed, take more than one breath at each body part/area until the area is completely relaxed and heavy before moving on.

After just one use, you will notice that you fall asleep faster and more easily. You may find that you want to do it every night!

 

 

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