Four Effective Relaxation Techniques to Help You Get to Sleep

April 26, 2016
Four Effective Relaxation Techniques to Help You Get to Sleep

Sleep is about more than just health; it is a fundamental part of what keeps us alive, alongside air, water and food. Yet despite knowing that we can live longer without food than we can without sleep, we still live in a society where a lack of sleep is seen as a badge of honour!

Last week I talked about how to set the right pre-sleep routine for a perfect slumber every night. The week before, I showed you some tips on setting the optimum sleep environment. But it isn’t always as simple as merely having a good routine and a great environment – sometimes, no matter how perfect your setup is, you just can’t get to sleep.

Today, I’m going to be covering the last of the three keys to getting a great night’s sleep: Relaxation techniques to help you quickly and easily drift off.

Forget Counting Sheep – Try These Techniques Instead

Here are four of the most effective techniques I have found work for clients who are struggling to get to sleep quickly, comfortably and easily.

The Pad and Paper Technique

Often it is our worries that keep us tossing and turning at night. Even if we’re not thinking about them consciously, they can prickle our minds with their barbed edges and stop us sleeping.

Some of my clients find that it helps them if they write down their worries, along with a few solutions, before they go to bed. Doing this about an hour before bed can really help you to unwind and relax.

The Acceptance Technique

With some clients, I find that helping them to accept what kind of sleeper they are – i.e. accepting that having a bad night’s sleep is not the end of the world – can actually be a really positive thing. As an insomnia sufferer myself, I find this technique really useful. When I wake early in the morning, accepting that I am awake and that I may not go back to sleep relaxes me… and before I know it, I drift back off.

The 4-7-8 Technique

This technique has had a lot of media coverage recently. You lie in bed and breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then breathe out for 8 seconds.

1. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four
2. Hold your breath for a count of seven
3. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a woosh sound, to a count of eight
4. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths

The most important part of this process is holding your breath for eight seconds. This is because keeping the breath in will allow oxygen to fill your lungs and then circulate throughout the body. It is this that causes your body to relax.

The “The” Technique

If you are struggling to sleep, then close your eyes and imagine a white light at the end of a long tunnel. Focus on the light and, as you slowly breathe, repeat the word “the” over and over again. The use of a neutral word like “the” stops your thoughts from wandering, and drives the things you worry about from your mind.

 About The Author

James is a sleep practitioner and sleep environment expert who helps people sleep better. He trained as a practitioner with the Children’s Sleep Charity, and works with babies, children, professionals and sports people and teams, helping them to sleep better. He also works with companies helping them to develop products, such as matteresses and tech products, and also with hotels to create the perfect sleep environments for their guests. You can read more about his thoughts on sleep at

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