Life, as we all know, is certainly easier after a good night’s sleep. Yet, many of us toss and turn through the night. When we are surprised by the alarm clock in the morning, and it’s time to get up, we’ve barely slept.
So, how can we get to sleep with less stress and stay asleep through the night?
Here, I would like to offer a tool to help you fall asleep or go back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night. No pills, no drugs, no changing behavior! This is a simple technique that everyone can do to get a better night’s sleep.
‘Sounder Sleep’ Technique
The “Sounder Sleep” technique can help you relax, so that you can fall asleep effortlessly. It can also be used if you wake up in the middle of the night and want to go back to sleep.
Note: The instructions below work best if someone reads them slowly to you in bed. Better yet, record them yourself on your cell phone or recording device in a slow, quiet voice. Then play the recording back to yourself.
While settled in bed, lie in a fetal position on whichever side is more comfortable for you. Make sure that your pillow is at the right height and that you are not distracted by lights or sounds in the room.
Focus on your breath. Without changing your breathing, simply notice how much time you spend with the breath coming in and going out. Is the way in longer than the way out? Is it shorter?
What do you do at “the top” of your breath, when you finish breathing in and are about to breathe out? Is it an immediate turnaround, or do you linger there? And what about “the bottom” of the breath, when you finish breathing out and are about to begin a new cycle? Is it an immediate turnaround, or do you linger there?
Of course, each breath is individual. But, what is the overall pattern? Again, make sure not to alter the breath in any way. Instead of directing it, simply allow the breathing to unfold naturally and observe.
While being comfortable in this position and without your body actually changing shape, imagine the bones of your legs beginning to move toward the foot of the bed. Simply imagine the movement without doing it, the way skiers visualize sliding down the slope before they actually start moving.
You’ll notice that the muscles of your legs will begin to engage. They’ll engage in such a subtle way that they don’t disturb the surrounding skin, your pajamas, or the sheets.
Take a moment to reflect on your breathing.
As you visualize the movement of unfolding the legs, go as slowly as your breathing process. Notice that as you gently explore the idea of moving, without actually doing so, you will become increasingly relaxed.
If your mind happens to drift, let it. Exploring these movements is not a chore and not something to excel at or do correctly. It is simply a way to gently relax yourself as you gently float down to sleep.
Frederick E. Schjang is a nationally recognized fitness educator and innovator who specializes in the Feldenkrais® method, Pilates, and flexibility training. His annual Feldenkrais Festival has become a must-attend event for fitness enthusiasts. FrederickSchjang.com