Ah, bedtime – you lie down, close your eyes, have a blissful night recharging away from the world’s stresses, and wake up refreshed the following day. If this ideal is far from your reality, don’t fret. Many people have difficulty falling asleep and getting their eight hours. Our busy, loud lives can make it hard to detach when it’s time to get some rest. Purposeful meditation before bed can help make falling asleep simpler, so block some time for these easy techniques. Once you’ve incorporated them into your routine, that bedtime nirvana can be yours
Turn Off Devices
Before any meditation begins, you need to give your brain and body a few minutes to detach from electronic devices. Five to ten minutes before your planned meditation time, turn off all screens and silence any other devices. You can also dim other lights in your home. Soft, warm light is more calming than blue-tinted bulbs. Designate one or two lamps with a warmer glow as your evening light source.
Spend Time Connecting with Nature
Our bodies have internal clocks that are hard to reprogram. These clocks calibrate to the cycle of the sun and the world around us, so reconnecting with nature can help make falling asleep and ending your day a little easier. Depending on the season, your bedtime may not correlate with the darkness outside, but when it does, head outdoors for five to ten minutes during your screentime detox. Breathe in the fresh air as you notice your surroundings. Use the mindfulness trick of “5-4-3-2-1” to help you identify what you’re sensing: 5 things you hear, four things you smell, etc. Connecting with nature in darkness will help signal your body that it’s time for bed.
Incorporate Mindful Stretching
When you’re ready to get into bed, begin with deliberate stretching of your muscles. During this practice, focus on what you’re feeling in your body and move slowly. Imagine the muscles loosening as you bend your arm or the ligaments stretching when you point your toes. Picturing what’s happening in your body, and noting how it feels, will help direct your attention inward, away from the stresses of the day. As a bonus, stretching before bed tends to help your muscles relax more quickly; thus, you’ll get to sleep faster.
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Do a Body Scan
When finished stretching, lie down in bed on your back (put a pillow under your knees if that’s more comfortable) and let your weight sink into the mattress. Starting at the top of your head, focus on each body part and ask it to relax. Notice if there’s any pain or tension, and purposefully ask it to release. Move down your body entirely to your toes in this process until your entire body is relaxed. Some body parts might seem challenging to isolate. Try gently squeezing that muscle as you’re directing your attention to the area; release the squeeze as you ask it to relax.
Use a Guided Meditation
Often, the above steps that connect you with your body and mindfully seek relaxation are enough to help you fall asleep quickly. If you need more time and still feel stressed, try a guided sleep meditation for five to twenty minutes. You can find many free versions online or on smartphone apps and sleep podcasts offering meditation components. Listen to a few versions during the day to ensure you find the narrator’s voice soothing and the message relaxing. If you’re sharing a room and need headphones, make sure to use a wireless version so that you don’t fall asleep and get tangled in the cord.
These simple mindfulness techniques will help you de-stress and fall asleep more quickly. Try incorporating them before bed tonight. You’ll also find that you wake up more rested when your mind and body have relaxed before bed, so taking the time to learn these techniques is well worth the effort.