Staring at your room’s ceiling and counting sheep at night? If this goes on for more than three days, then you need to change your bedtime routine. You might have heard of “bedroom hygiene” and “good sleeping habits” and yes, they can help you sleep better, to some extent.
However, if time and time again you find yourself lying in bed and counting the seconds on the clock until sleep comes, then you need to take a different approach.
There are certain basic exercises which you can perform before bedtime that will help you fall asleep better. You will find yourself easing into dreamland and will wake up fresh in the morning, well rested and full of energy.
After performing these exercises, you should be ready for a good night’s sleep. You might even fall asleep as soon as your head will hit the pillow. This may happen because, during simple body weight exercises, you can make your body temperature rise. Afterwards, your body temperature will drop more deeply than it would have without exercise, inducing a greater release of hormones that promote good sleep.
About an hour before going to bed, perform a few sets of gentle crunches and leg raises while lying down. Do this for 10 minutes and then lie still while working on your breathing methodically. The first two exercises will help you ease the tightness in your hips and your controlled breathing will relieve stress.
Remember, do not make your movements too violent or strenuous because this can stimulate the release of stress hormones and make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
Breathing exercise can be performed either sitting cross-legged on the floor or lying in bed. The important thing to remember is to maintain your posture. The key is to keep your spine straight and make sure your shoulders don’t slouch.
Belly breathing starts from the diaphragm. Take a deep breath, inhaling as much air as you can so that your stomach sticks out. Then release air slowly from your chest cavity through your mouth. Start this exercise by inhaling for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 2 seconds and then exhale for about 4 seconds.
You need to be in a relaxed state while performing this exercise. Do not do it while watching a movie or listening to music. It’s best to practice belly breathing after some gentle stretching.
Basic yoga poses that involve a little stretching can help you relieve tension from your knees, shoulders, hips and ankles. They can help to relax your muscles and joints, so that you can sleep better.
The butterfly stretch allows you to open your hip joints and improve your flexibility. The aim here is to stretch your body to relieve tension but not to the point of feeling pain. Sit down on the floor and press the soles of your feet together. Drop your knees apart, bend forward and hold your feet with both your hands. Take a deep breath as you move forward but make sure that your legs remain in the same position. Take some time to try out various yoga poses, but bear in mind that some poses might be too difficult for your body in the beginning. The key to relaxing your body before bedtime is to try out exercises that are light and easy to perform. Do not overtax your body and make sure that your heartbeat remains relatively calm.