A recent survey called Stress in America™ indicates that stress may be interfering with Americans’ sleep, keeping many adults and teens from getting the sleep they need to be healthy. At Luma Sleep, we're on a mission to help you get the quality rest you need, but if you pile into bed with a load of stress, the best mattress in the world may not help you catch those much needed zzz's...
Sleep allows our brains and our bodies to recover and recharge. Without enough quality sleep, our muscles don't get a chance to recoup from a big workout and our brain might not be all it can be for that big interview. Even slight sleep deprivation can affect memory, judgment, and mood – especially if you are already feeling a lot of stress during waking hours. So here are a few meditation techniques to help you de-stress before bed, or anytime.
1) Breathing Meditation
Sit comfortably with your back straight or laying flat in a low light area. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe deeply through your nose allowing your stomach to rise (the hand on your chest should move very little). Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can by contracting your abs. Continue to breathe slowly like this and begin counting your breathes each time you exhale. You should feel awake, but relaxed allowing thoughts that come into your mind to simply drift by. Zen masters like this idea to sitting by a river and watching a leaf drift into and then out of your view. If you try to banish thoughts from your mind, you'll just give them more power to stress you out so just let them drift on by. Try to maintain this for 5-10 minutes in the beginning. After a bit of practice, you'll be able to relax more quickly or sit for much longer.
2) Progressive Muscle Relaxation
You've probably noticed that you "store stress" in some part of your body; usually your neck, shoulders or lower back. With this technique, you progressively contract and relax the main muscle groups around the body to relieve tension. If you feel pain at any stage of the exercise, stop!
STEP ONE: Lie down in loose-fitting clothing on a firm surface. Make sure that no part of your body feels stretched or strained (its OK to use a pillow or two).
STEP TWO: Try to relax your mind and body by breathing slowing in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Let your arms fall where they may and keep your legs gently extended and flat.
STEP THREE: Without rushing, clench and release your major muscle groups. Begin by clenching left toes for a few seconds and then release. Repeat this two or three times. Then try to do the same with your calf ( a tricky one) and then, your thigh. Don't worry if it's hard to isolate a particular muscle, just do your best and move on. Repeat the same progression on your right leg.
Next repeat the same clench and release process as follows:
Stomach - tighten abs and release
Left Hand – make a tight fist and release
Left Arm - flex your bicep
Shoulders – hunch them up towards the ceiling
Face – yawn, pout, and frown to clench the various muscles in your face
When you're done, stand up slowly, gently shake out your body and head for bed! Check this article out: Here you'll find more details, and also find a shorter form of this method.
Step 3: Guided Meditation
... is exactly what it sounds like. An expert, certified guide walks you through a series of gentle exercises or visualizations, usually accompanied by soft music or the sounds of nature. The great part is there are oodles of free podcasts and youtube videos you can try until you find a guide you like. Again you'll make yourself comfortable either a seated or laying down in a softly lit or darkened room. Then you simply and follow the spoken instructions provided on the video or podcast. If you're having trouble picking your guide, this simple 10 minute guided meditation for sleep is a good place to start. We even have an 8hr video of lovely nature sounds that will help you sleep like a baby.