Three Relaxation Techniques To Help With Sleeping Disorders
Everyone experiences problems with sleeping at some point in their lives, and there are many different triggers that can start sleep disorders overnight. Most of the problems people have with sleeping come down to stress and/or anxiety, and the feeling of not being able to switch off when you go to bed at night time. It’s important to identify the issues that are keeping you awake and try to come up with solutions to allow your mind to rest efficiently.
What makes us tired?
Most sleep disturbance is caused by your circadian rhythm. If you’ve ever noticed you feel more tired, or more hyper than around the same times every day then it’s more than likely your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is basically your 24-hour body clock, that switches between alertness and sleepiness at regular intervals. We’ve all done it when we’ve been off work and we let our sleeping cycle get out of control by waking up late and not going to bed until the early hours, this is due to the change of your circadian rhythm. Travelling can be disturbing to sleep patterns, and cabin crew and travellers often struggle to adjust to the different time zones. There are medications available such as Melatonin, that helps to reset peoples body clocks and allow them to adjust to new climates. There are other sleep disturbance medicines you can buy to assist with sleeping disorders, but it’s always worth trying some relaxation techniques too.
Listen to relaxing sounds
YouTube has a huge collection of sleeping aid videos, any of which could work for you. Most relaxing sleep music consists of tones of nature, such as wind rustling the trees or the sound of a running fountain. These are sounds that most people have positive connotations of, maybe from childhood holidays or family days out. As such it helps to relax you and fill your mind with positive thoughts, rather than the stress that’s keeping you awake in the first place. If these videos don’t work for you, you could go one step further and try the hypnosis style sleep videos that are available on the internet. These work by combining soft and calming sounds with a monotone voice that suggest things for you to think about, slowly convincing you to shut your mind off and fall to sleep. These techniques aren’t for everyone, and you have to approach it with positivity and a belief that it will work otherwise the whole process feels a bit trivial.
Try different breathing exercises
Breathing is a key factor of relaxation throughout many parts of our lives. There are various breathing techniques that are recommended for the benefit of helping you to fall to sleep. The most talked about one seems to be the “4-7-4” breathing trick. In this breathing technique, you follow four steps and repeat it several times. Sufferers of sleeping disorders have claimed this trick alone has sent them to sleep within 5 minutes of starting the exercise and it’s really simple to follow, the steps are:
- Exhale through your mouth, making a blowing sound as you empty your lungs.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose. Count to four then stop breathing in.
- Hold your breath and count to seven.
- Using only your mouth, exhale for eight seconds whilst making a blowing noise.
The above counts as one full breath. A full cycle consists of four breaths and lasts for about 60 seconds. The 8 seconds of breath holding is essential for the exercise to work effectively, keeping the breath in allows you to fill your lungs with oxygen and circulate it throughout your body. This causes a euphoric style feeling of relaxation throughout your body and should help you get in the right frame of mind ready to go to sleep. There are lots of other techniques you could try too and it’s all about finding out what works for you and your body.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Commonly known as PMR, progressive muscle relaxation is a method to allow deep muscle relaxation, one limb at a time. Muscle tension is a physiological response to anxiety, so as you move your attention towards each limb you can release this tension. This exercise becomes more effective the more you practice it and learn about what normal tension feels like in each of your limbs compared to the heightened tension you experience throughout stressful periods. The benefits of regular progressive muscle relaxation include lower blood pressure, less muscle tension, relieved anxiety, lower level or fatigue and a better overall sense of wellbeing. At first, it’s easier to do this exercise whilst guided by an instruction disk, so you can listen and follow the instructions whilst staying relaxed.
It may take you a while to properly understand and feel the benefits from PMR, and you’d need to do more research on how to do it properly before attempting it. The basics are that you focus on each muscle group, first tensing the selected muscles for a few seconds and then slowly relaxing them over the course of 20-30 seconds. You start with your face and work down to your shoulders and arms until you’ve eventually relaxed every muscle group down to your legs and feet. Once you have targeted the multiple groups you should feel relaxed, calm and relieved of anxiety. It’s recommended to practice this technique daily to really master it and see the long-term benefits.
For other ways that TravelPharm can help you with sleeping disorders, visit our sleep disturbance page.