Do you have problems falling asleep at night? During the hectic holiday season, getting enough restful sleep is essential. Rather than reaching for sleep aids try just 5 minutes of stretching before bed. Focusing on breath while stretching allows your body to relax and sheds unnecessary muscle tension. You may also find that you sleep better though the night!
- Lay on your back. Take a deep breath out and draw your knees into our chest. Hold for three deep breaths, and release your knees. Repeat this a few times.
- Sit crossed legged. Rotate your torso to one side, and take a deep breath out. Roll your body down, aiming your forehead to your one knee. Stop once you feel a gentle stretch and hold for three slow breaths. Repeat towards the opposite side.
- Lay on your stomach with your forearms and hands on the ground beside you. Take a deep breath out, push from your forearms and arch your back. Hold for one breath and lower. Repeat three times.
Practicing good “sleep hygiene” is important for getting a restful sleep every night. In addition to doing some light stretches and deep breathing, there are a few things that you can do to improve your sleep:
- Avoiding stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in the hours before bed.
- Use the bedroom only for sleeping—watch tv, use the computer and do other activities in other rooms as much as possible. Avoid using the bedroom to do work-related activities.
- Establish a pre-bedtime routine: try to do the same few things before you go to bed, such as a quick tidying of a room, preparing lunch for the next day, reading a book, or doing some journaling. The routine creates an association in the brain between those activities and sleeping.
- Maintain a consistent schedule: as much as possible go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. This will set your internal clock so that your body can learn when to start making hormones that make you feel sleepy.
- Keep the bedroom cool and dark. Your body has a set temperature that is slightly lower when you sleep, and if your room is too hot your body has trouble getting to that point, and can make sleep difficult. A dark room helps the body to send sleep signals as well.