Even if you’re a heavy sleeper, you’ve surely had nights where you just can’t doze off. Getting a good night’s rest is essential to proper relaxation - over several hours of quality sleep, your body and mind rest, recharge, and supply the energy you need for the next day. But getting to Dreamland isn’t as simple as it sounds. Sometimes, you may need some relaxation techniques to help you get into the right frame of mind for sleep.
Why relaxation is important - not just for sleep
While relaxing can help induce sleep, it’s also necessary for many other components of your overall health, all of which connect back to sleep in some way. Think about it—if you’re feeling anxious about something, it’s likely harder for you to fall asleep. The same goes for several other aspects of your overall well-being, including:
- It can help with fatigue. Regular meditation – a practice often associated with relaxation – is correlated with less daytime fatigue. Trying out meditation as a relaxation technique for sleep can also help you make the best of your waking hours.
- Relaxation contributes to overall better mental health. The time you put into relaxing before bed can pay off big for your mental health. Relaxation is correlated with improved outcomes for people with anxiety or depression, two conditions that can keep you awake at night.
Seven relaxation techniques for sleep
Among the methods that many people say help them fall asleep more easily include:
1. Breathing exercises
If you hit the pillows at your usual bedtime but realize you’re way too frazzled to get your Z’s in, breathing exercises can ground you. Breathing exercises that can help ward off those sleepless nights include:
- 4-7-8 breathing. In this exercise, you’ll sit up straight and hold the tip of your tongue right behind your upper front teeth as you inhale and exhale. Start by exhaling in this position while making a “whoosh” sound. After this exhale, inhale through your nose for four seconds. After holding your breath for seven seconds, exhale through your mouth while again making the “whoosh” sound for eight seconds. Do this a total of four times.
- Diaphragmatic breathing. For this breathing technique, you’ll lie down flat, but with one pillow under your head and another below your knees. Then, place one hand just above your upper chest and another between your rib cage and diaphragm. Next, breathe slowly through your nose and notice as your stomach pushes against your hand while your chest remains still. Exhale with a deep breath through pursed lips and keep your chest still. Repeat for five to 10 minutes total.
- Body scan. To incorporate body scans into your bedtime routine, lie in bed and exhale while you focus on relaxing your body. Throughout this practice, notice how your bed is supporting you. Identify spots that feel tense and relax them as you exhale. While exhaling, say a simple mantra, perhaps just “tired,” that signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
2. Repeating a mantra
A mantra doesn’t have to be complex. It can be just a sound or short word that your brain connects to sleeping (such as “tired” in the above example). It’s best coupled with breathing exercises, during which you can recite your mantra to yourself in your head as you inhale. You can then softly say the mantra out loud as you exhale. After five to 10 minutes of repeated mantras, you might find yourself more ready for sleep.
3. Guided imagery
Guided imagery is said to reduce stress in a way that can help to improve your sleep. It involves imagining a calming place or event, such as an open and quiet field during golden hour, to link your mind’s conscious and unconscious states. The result can be a relaxation response that makes falling asleep not just easier but almost inevitable.
4. Progressive relaxation
Progressive relaxation can be a powerful sleep technique for combating any physical tension you feel before bed, and you can use it to combat anxiety as well. In progressive relaxation, you’ll tense and release all of your body’s muscle groups from the toes to the top of your head. This technique can lead to better sleep since it loosens tense spots that could awaken you in the middle of the night.
Humming can soothe the nervous system in ways similar to breathing, mind, and relaxation exercises. As you hum a simple, slow, deep melody, your face, neck, and shoulders may become more relaxed, thus relieving your body of tension that can make sleeping difficult. You may also find that the trance-like sounds of your hums can calm your brain enough to make you feel tired as well.
6. Sound meditation
Sound baths, particularly the echoing of gongs, have long been associated with meditation. These and other sounds that the brain doesn’t perceive as threats can help you get to sleep more easily. Such sounds might include the gentle ringing of chimes, breezes, and other white noise.
7. Calm lighting
Although an ideal lighting setup would be entirely dark for many people, others might benefit from having a small amount of calming light in their space as they sleep. Colored lighting is particularly useful, as most daytime white or off-yellow lighting isn’t warm enough to be relaxing. Red, pink, green, and especially blue light exposure are instead correlated with a potential relaxation response.
Some calming lighting ideas to set the right mood for a restful night of sleep include:
- Laser light bulbs. These bulbs fit into any ordinary lighting fixture and emit mesmerizing, soothing blue colors and images into any space. For example, a BlissLights BlissBulb in your floor lamp douses your whole room in relaxing blue starry skies that can help you feel properly at ease.
- Portable laser lights. For a colorful light you can take with you wherever you’re sleeping for the night, portable laser lights get the job done. The BlissLights StarPort Laser USB in a relaxing red or green shade is as powerful as the blue BlissBulb while fitting snugly in your pocket. You can also power it with any wall charger, mobile charger, or laptop, so using it for your nighttime routine is especially simple.
- Aurora lights. As you glance at entrancing green auroras gently bobbing against a blue backdrop on your ceiling or walls, everything else on your mind might slowly slip away. With your mind this clear, you’re much better prepared for a restful sleep. A BlissLights Ark Ambient Aurora Light on your nightstand is the easiest way to experience this calming effect for yourself.
- Sky Lite. Imagine exploring the great beyond without actually going anywhere – sounds relaxing, right? Sky lite such as the BlissLights Sky Lite Laser Galaxy Projector provides this tranquil journey. As you gaze at the blue or green stars and nebula clouds spread throughout your room, you might just feel your eyes starting to close.
Three tips for better sleep
Beyond just trying relaxation techniques for sleep, you may want to do the following to get better sleep:
- Keep a journal on your nightstand. The thoughts that swirl in your head before sleep and keep you from getting proper shut-eye may feel less burdensome if you get them out in the open. With a journal next to your bed, you can jot down those racing thoughts and plan for your next day so you can go to bed feeling like it’ll all be okay. The result isn’t just sounder sleep but more alertness the next day while completing your tasks.
- Choose your bedtime snacks wisely. Although many sleep and nutrition experts recommend not eating anything within three hours before sleep, you can’t always ignore that rumble in your stomach. When that’s the case, smart bedtime snack choices will lessen the chances of poor sleep. Healthy bedtime snacks correlated with better sleep include walnuts, cherries, breakfast cereals with complex carbs, and chamomile or green tea.
- Make your bedroom sleep-friendly. A cluttered or messy room or bed can stress you out and thus keep you from achieving adequate sleep. For better sleep, clear your clutter and set your thermostat low, install light-blocking curtains, and use soft lights as you ease into bed. Laser lights can be especially sleep-friendly lights, and BlissLights has all kinds of laser lights perfect for relaxing before, during, and long after sleep.
Try out BlissLights to help you relax before going to bed
Relaxation techniques for sleep can improve both your sleep and your wakeful hours, and if you’re convinced that calm lighting is the best relaxation method for you, then BlissLights has you covered. Our laser lights come in only relaxing colors, whether you’re seeking a small red light for your travels or a blue-and-green indoor sky simulator for truly one-of-a-kind calm. Browse our collection to find the perfect relaxation lighting for restful nights and relaxed days!
BlissLights has been a leader in the laser lighting industry since the company was founded in 2006. Our team of experienced engineers and technicians helped create award-winning special effect lighting for major theme parks before minaturizing our patented technology for home use. BlissLights is dedicated to laser safety and education, and is registered with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).