How to Relax to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

How to Relax to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar. These also work: quiet music, knitting or other creative pastime, cup of herbal tea, and breathing practice.

Music. You will find CDs of nature’s sounds for relaxation for sale in stores and on-line. I’ve used these and find them helpful. If you are a jazz lover, go for the sounds you find to be relaxing. These will be on the quiet, calm side, and have rhythms that are slow. Recordings of lullabies are helpful. What were the songs sung to you when you were small? Do you go for classical music? Try Chopin’s Nocturnes or Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

Knitting or other creative pastime. I find knitting particularly relaxing. As I knit and keep track of what I am doing, my mind is distracted from worries, concerns, agenda, etc. I notice the muscles letting go of stress. I find that I am breathing freer. During the past three years, I have progressed from the beginner to the intermediate level. Not only do I knit for my loved ones, I also knit for peace, sending warm wool sweaters, mittens, and socks to refugee children in Afghanistan. My husband has brain cancer and I am now knitting chemo and radiation hats for him. Soon, I will be sending similar soft cotton hats to the cancer center.

You may have a prejudice that only women knit, but this is not so. I know many men who knit and/or crochet.

Herbal tea. Stay away from caffeine since it is a stimulant. There are several non-caffeine teas that will help you relax. Chamomile calms and relaxes. Lavender reduces stress and helps ease headaches. Jasmine helps to calm and relax the body. Peppermint helps open your sinuses so you breathe better during sleep.

Breathing practice. When you are ready for bed, lie comfortably on your back, cover yourself and plump your pillow, and then place your arms alongside your body. Close your eyes. Notice your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose, filling your lower chest. Notice how your belly rises when you breathe deeply. Slowly breathe out through your nose. Continue to breathe in and out slowly through your nose. Notice how the breath feels in your nose, in the back of your throat. Notice the momentary rest between the in and the out breaths.

Breathing practice works for me every time in putting me to sleep. The mind is refocused on your breathing and your sensate self. You deliver more oxygen to your whole body. Your body lets go tension and you go into a deep restful sleep. Peaceful sleeping to you.