Breathe Yourself to Sleep
A cup of warm tea, followed by the seated meditative posture, is a great way to clear your mind and prepare for sleep. To get started:
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. If you have muscle or joint pain, you can sit on a firm chair, with your feet flat on the floor. You can also sit on the edge of your bed. Hold your back erect, chest pulled up and forward. Relax your shoulders, but try not to slouch.
- If you’re seated on a bed or chair, rest your hands palms down on your thighs. If you’re seated on the floor, you can rest your hands comfortably on your thighs, palmside up, thumb and index fingers touching. You can also cradle them in front of you, one on top of the other in your lap.
- Your chin should be parallel with the floor. Soften your facial muscles and let your mouth open slightly. Close your eyes.
- Slowly, breathe in deeply through your nose to the count of five. Hold the breath for five counts. Exhale slowly through your nose, counting to five. You want to feel your stomach muscles contract and your chest expand on the inhalation. On the exhalation, use your stomach muscles to press out all of the air.
- Repeat this posture for six to eight breaths.
Relax Yourself to Sleep
Here is a modified yoga relaxation posture that you can do in your bed — you’ll be right where you want to be when you nod off. To get started:
- In bed, lie on your back with your legs comfortably far apart, feet turned out. Shift your arms away from your body, place your hands palmside up, fingers slightly curved. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Let your body sink into the bed. This should feel great after a long day.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose; let your chest expand and your stomach contract. Feel the energy flowing into your body. As you exhale, press the breath slowly and evenly from your abdomen and chest and out through your nose. Use your stomach muscles, but don’t force or strain yourself. Do this for six to eight breaths. Once you have a steady and controlled rhythm, you’re ready to begin.
- Focus your attention on the top of your head and release any pressures there. Slowly move to your forehead, your eyes and your mouth. Free any tension around your jaw, letting your mouth open slightly, if necessary. Maintain an even, deep and controlled breath. Take your time.
- For each part of your body, do a complete deep inhalation and full exhalation before moving on. Take your time. Try not to rush each breath.
- Your shoulders and upper back collect a lot of stress during the day, especially if you’re working at a computer. Focus on any neck and shoulder strain. Breathe in deeply. As you exhale, slowly release the tension that’s collected there.
- Continue down your body, concentrating on your arms, abdomen, thighs, calves, lower legs and finally your feet. If you need to, slowly wiggle your fingers and toes to free any tension there. Keep your breathing even, and maintain a steady flow in and out. If you reach any points of particular stress, focus with your breath and release the tension on your exhalation.
Practice, practice, practice and these techniques will help you become more aware of your breath and release tension from your body, so that you can get a deep, satisfying sleep.
Ponton, L. (2007). Tips for a Satisfying Sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 28, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/tips-for-a-satisfying-sleep/000986
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.