Techniques aimed at relaxation have been around for a long time and involve practices such as meditation, muscular relaxation, and autogenic training. The common goal of these techniques is to increase awareness and gain control of bodily and mental activity in order to reach a relaxed state.
Practicing meditation for sleep is a great way to unwind and relax our mind. Though this practice, we can learn to let go of the thoughts that race through our heads and enter a mental state that promotes sleep. If you would like to get started with meditation, try to take 5 minutes off every day. During this time, focus your mind on a specific thought or activity – such as your breathing – and pay attention to that. At first, you may find it challenging to keep focus, but by training this skill you’ll be able to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally stable state.
This technique is applied to train physical attention and awareness. It involves tensing a particular muscle group and then releasing the tension. The differences felt between tension and relaxation helps us gain awareness of the tension in our body and manage muscle tension. This practice takes a few days to master and helps us reach the physical and mental relaxation necessary to be able to fall asleep.
If you are ready to give it a go, find a calm space and start tensing your facial muscles, then relax them over the course of 20-30 seconds. Repeat this same process for each muscle group of your body: shoulder and arms, chest and abdomen, back hips and bum, legs and feet.
Autogenic training is a desensitization-relaxation technique. The main purpose of autogenic training is the achievement of autonomic self-regulation through which we can manage emotional responses and stress. It is practiced by removing environmental distraction and stimulating a sense of body-heaviness and warmth. This is achieved by repeating short phrases such as “I am calm, my right leg is heavy”, which help triggering a relaxed state. This technique is used to manage anxiety and stress and can help us a relaxed state before going to sleep.