Waking up can be hard sometimes. One thing that is key in waking up feeling refreshed is being able to fall asleep when you want to. However, this is often easier said than done. At the end of the day, you might feel so exhausted all you want to do is lay down in bed and sleep. But as soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind races and just does not seem to shut off.
If this sounds familiar here are a few things you can do to help you ease your mind and relax.
Counting Breaths to Fall Asleep
The first step in quieting your mind is focusing on something soothing. In this case, we’ll focus on our breathing:
- Focus on what happens when you breathe. Picture the air flowing in and out of your mouth and lungs. Feel your chest rise and fall.
- Inhale deeply but don’t force it. While inhaling think to yourself “1”.
- Then exhale. Focus on the air leaving your lungs and mouth. Feel your chest fall. While exhaling, think “2”.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 and count up until “4” then start back at “1”.
- Wake up the next morning happy.
This technique sounds simple but it may take some practice. If you feel your mind start to wonder bring it back to your breathing.
Counting breaths is a form of mindful meditation but this next part we’ll go a step further. This technique requires you to focus on various body parts, forcing them to relax.
Wherever you are right now, try this. Look at your right hand. Now make a fist! Squeeze as hard as you can! Keep going! Feel your muscles tense. Focus on that sensation. Hold the fist for about 5 seconds then… relax your hand. Place it down next to you or on a table. Focus on the hand that is no longer tense. It is now relaxed. It feels heavy and warm.
This technique can be done with the whole body.
If you are feeling tense when you’re trying to sleep, this technique may be for you:
- Lie on your back. Focus on your breathing. With each breath feel your body getting more relaxed and heavy.
- Shift your focus to your toes. Then do the same thing stated as above that you did with your hand.
- After tensing focus on the sensation that remains. Focus on that absence of tension.
- Next, bring your focus to your calves. Tense, then relax. Feel the absence of tension.
- Repeat for the whole body if needed. Stress is carried mostly in the shoulders, jaw, and eyebrows so be sure to tense and relax those areas too.
As with any type of meditation, this may take a little practice. This technique tricks your body into relaxing. The key is to really focus on that absence of tension. You should begin to feel heavy and warm during this technique.
You know that tingly feeling you get when someone whispers in your ear or crinkles some plastic? The technical term for it is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The ASMR community is something that has grown tremendously in popularity over the past three years. ASMR has been shown to help with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and helping the mind and body relax. Youtube has literally hundreds of different ASMRtists who range from conventional to slightly strange.
There are many different triggers to activate that tingly feeling. Tapping, binaural whispers, mouth sounds, and scalp massages are just a few. While the scientific evidence for the effects of ASMR on the body is lacking, there is some basic science behind it.
Mirror neurons are neurons that fire in the brain when an action is being observed. When these neurons fire, the brain acts as if it were the one performing an action. So, when watching someone get a scalp massage, our listening to binaural whispering, our brains release neurotransmitters that are associated with pleasant feelings.
The only thing you really need to give this a try is a pair of headphones and access to Youtube. Besides falling asleep, ASMR can also be used to help focus during studying or reading.
What Works for You?
If you have a hard time shutting your mind down, give these techniques a try. Or, if you have a method that helps you fall asleep, share in the comments below.