Many people find that when they're stressed, they have more trouble falling or staying asleep. In fact, stress and anxiety regularly come top in the rankings of causes of sleep issues. Thankfully, there are ways to tackle this issue. Anxiety relief exercises are a great way to relax your mind and many people recommend the use of meditation for better sleep.
Anxiety is a condition that often causes racing thoughts which make it difficult to keep your mind quiet. This leads to heightened emotions, intrusive thoughts and fears and a sense of being overwhelmed. This can lead to a build-up of physical tension which anxiety relief exercises and meditation can help to relieve.
When not dealt with, prolonged stress can increase the body's production of adrenaline and cortisol which boost your alertness, raising your heart rate a blood pressure. This can then lead to a difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up earlier than intended or needed and waking feelings as though you haven't had enough sleep.
Persistent symptoms of anxiety can also lead to chronic insomnia with anxiety disorders and insomnia often comes hand-in-hand.
By using anxiety relief exercises and meditation for better sleep, you should see an improvement in your mood, sleep quality and anxiety levels. A lack of sleep can often lead to more intense feelings of anxiety, and more intense anxiety can often lead to poor sleep quality, so by tackling one problem you'll often tackle the other one too.
Below are some of our favourite anxiety relief exercises and methods of meditation for better sleep:
1. Autogenic training
While this isn't a particularly well-known form of relaxation, it is a great way to unwind and relax before bed. It's one of the best anxiety relief exercises for its effectiveness at treating anxiety and is hugely accessible as it can be done with very few materials or training. Autogenic training uses a series of exercises designed to focus your attention on a specific physical sensation in order to feel relaxed both in a mental and physical state. Thus, autogenic training focuses the mind by focusing on sensations of warmth and heaviness in different regions of the body. Both visual imagery and verbal cues are used to help you relax and quiet or calm your thoughts. As with most anxiety relief exercises, this is most effective when practised on a regular basis. You can carry out the exercises at any point in the day or you can incorporate them into your night-time wind-down to help ready your mind and body for sleep.
2. Guided meditation
Following a guided meditation for better sleep is a simple but effective way to clear your mind of worries and focus on something positive as you relax.
Sometimes, listening to a meditation video or audio track online can be all the guidance you need. Just set it playing, close your eyes and listen to the calm instructions. This can be a great addition to a calming bedtime routine to help you unwind and relax as you get ready to sleep.
3. Breathing awareness exercise
Becoming aware of your breath is a great way to manage and control your anxiety. Get settled on your back with your arms by your sides - closing your eyes can also help. Start to focus in on your breathing, feeling your breath flowing in and out of you. There's absolutely no right or wrong way to carry out this technique, which is why it's one of the great anxiety relief exercises. Just relax your body and breathe normally.
Try to imagine pulling your breath in from a distant place and then pushing it back out to the same distant place. You can even think the words 'in' and 'out' as you breathe, alternatively you can think the word 'relax' with each breath out - it's entirely up to you.
Concentrate on the rise and fall of your chest and start to focus on what you can feel, smell or taste as you breath in.
Even when relaxing in this way, you might find that certain thoughts pop into your head as your mind wanders. Don't worry if this happens. Acknowledge the thought and then bring your focus back to your breathing.
As you continue, start to feel your body sinking gently into your mattress. As little as five minutes of breathing focus can be all it takes to help you relax, but you might find you build up the time to around 20 minutes per session as you continue to practice.
4. Progressive relaxation
This is a great all-around mind-body relaxation technique. It's simple and provides a great opportunity to become familiar with your body and identify the areas where you hold on to your stress and tension. Progressive relaxation involves working in each area of your body, one at a time, tensing and relaxing. By doing this, you create an awareness of what tension and relaxation feel like in each area of your body, giving you an improved awareness that helps you address physical tension and the emotional stress that goes with it.
When used as part of your nightly routine, progressive relaxation can help you release any built-up tension that you haven't addressed throughout the day which might otherwise affect the quality of your sleep.
Typically, you should start by focussing on the lower areas of your body, your feet for example. Gradually work your way all the way up your body, finishing at the top of your head, tensing and then relaxing each body part as you go.
Of course, to really get the most out of these anxiety relief exercises and meditation for better sleep, you need the right mattress to sleep and relax on. Visit our www.sleepsonno.com for more information.