Our columnists spend a lot of time writing about the vital importance of sleep and how the quality of your sleep ultimately dictates the quality of your health and longevity. But here’s the thing a lot of us have trouble falling asleep because our mind is very active, and we feel like we just are wound up late at night.
To help you with that, we describe a technique that we believe can help you relax your mind, body and fall asleep faster. This is especially important because you will experience many hormonal changes that can affect your sleep as you get older.
When women are hitting perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopausal changes in estrogen levels, it often creates sleep disturbances, so we need to know how to get our bodies to relax and get back into a nice sleep-relaxed state.
And for men, as we age, the prostate naturally enlarges, and this often puts pressure on the bladder. We have pressure on the bladder – we often have to get up in the middle of the night to pee many times. So we get up to pee, come back, and really struggling to fall back asleep, so this technique will also help with that.
Or if you’re already a pretty good sleeper, we would still recommend you try this because we think you’ll find a lot of benefits to it from the relaxation and the kind of state it puts you in before you get to sleep.
The technique is basically this:
- Lie on the back of a bed as you lie.
- Pose arms and legs at your sides.
- Try to relax.
What we’d like you to do is close your eyes and focus on the very top of your head, focus on feeling the sensation of that skin by putting your awareness at the tippy top of your head.
As you do that, it might take a few seconds a little bit of practice to establish that connection. As you achieve that, we want you to slowly feel like you’re bringing a wave down the body, and then you’re bringing this wave of relaxation down every bit of your face – all the way down the body.
As this relaxation wave moves, you feel all the muscles that it passes through just completely relax and soften. So you’re starting that top of your head, and then you’re hitting your eyelids, and your eyelids are relaxing. Then you’re hitting your mouth – your mouth is relaxing, and you keep on proceeding down, just relaxing everything as you go down. You’re going to scan your entire body down your arms, down your belly, down your legs as you get to your feet. You’re going to go as slow or as fast as feels right for you.
The key to this technique is that you’re feeling that relaxation wave all the way through. It takes a little bit of practice, but as you relax all the way through to your feet, you’ll bring it right back up in opposite order – from feet up through your calves, bring this wave up to the top of your head. You can repeat this up and down, nice and gently. You’re allowing your body to relax totally.
This technique works for a couple of reasons:
- Using your awareness and directing it through those body parts, we can consciously relax those body parts. Often, the body stays in a semi-tense state, and when we use this relaxation technique, we’re able to get those muscles to relax just a little bit.
- The other thing that’s very powerful about this technique is it’s a form of meditation in the sense that we’re getting the mind in the awareness to become one-pointed, meaning it’s focusing directly on this wave of relaxation.
When it’s focusing intently on relaxing through this wave, your mind is also focused on that. It’s not thinking about the 50 other million things you would be if you’re staying up. So by getting the mind to be directed, it actually helps reduce that mental chatter, and as the body starts to relax, you’re going to get into this deeper awareness state that eventually you slip into sleep.
You can do this as many times as you want. The amazing thing about this technique is not only is it incredibly effective, but it also is free, and it only takes a few minutes, so we recommend you try it, and you’re going to find benefits of relaxation of your body and mind. And this is something you can do for the rest of your life for greater relaxation and deeper rest.