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Easy Breathing Exercise for Better Sleep

Relaxation Excercise for Better Sleep
One of the most important factors to getting a good night's sleep, according to The Better Sleep Council*, is relaxing your body AND mind before bed. However, many of us try to relax while watching television, playing videogames, or using a tablet/mobile device, which can leave our mind busy with the activities on-screen.

This quick & easy breathing exercise can help get your body AND mind ready for a great night's sleep in just 10 minutes!

Getting Started
  1. Lay down in a dark, cool, and uncluttered room with your arms to your sides.
  2. Breathe deeply in through your nose, and then exhale out through your mouth. Continue breathing in through your nose, and then out through your mouth throughout this exercise.
  3. As you breathe more deeply you should relax more and more. Try breathing in even more slowly, and then as you exhale let go of your tensions and relax your muscles. 
  4. Finally, as part of this exercise you will be flexing muscle groups as you breathe in through your nose, then letting go and relaxing your body as you exhale through your mouth.
Flexing then Relaxing Muscles
Once you are all set with breathing deeply in a relaxed environment you can get started with the main excercise. Flexing and then relaxing your muscles while breathing will help to fully relax each part of your body, until you are completely relaxed. 
  • First, flex all your muscles. Point your toes, press your arms to your sides, clench your fists, flex your stomach muscles, flex your legs, and smile as you breathe in through your nose, and then let go and relax your whole body as you exhale. Repeat three times.
  • Flex and point just your toes as you breathe in, and then let go relaxing your toes as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.
  • Squeeze your hands into fists as you breathe in, and then let go relaxing them as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.
  • Smile :) or frown :( exaggeratedly as you breathe in, and then relax as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.
  • Flex your calves and thighs as you breathe in, and then let go relaxing your leg muscles as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.
  • Flex your stomach muscles as you breathe in, and then let go relaxing your stomach as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.
  • Press your arms to your sides as you breathe in, and then let go relaxing your arms as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.
  • Finally, one last time flex all your muscles, and then let go relaxing fully as you exhale. 
  • Continue breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can go over this exercise again if you feel like you need to relax even more. It can be repeated for a deeper relaxation or just continue breathing deeply attempting to relax more and more. 
After the Main Exercise
After you are done flexing each muscle group while breathing deeply, your whole body should be much more relaxed. Continue breathing very deeply, letting your tensions go and fully relaxing your whole body as you exhale. Repeat for 5 minutes or more.

Avoiding Distractions
It's important to let your household know that you need some private time to relax. Try to avoid household distractions and create for yourself a relaxation sanctuary. Also, while relaxing it's easy to get distracted worrying about the day's events or tomorrow's activities. Try to avoid this!

Here are a few ways to concentrate on your breathing and relaxation, instead of worries:
  1. Try to concentrate on the air entering your body. Draw it in. Imagine the air is full of energy and you are breathing in a mist, or fog, or a breath of fresh air in the morning. Some people find it helpful to visualize a color they are breathing in. Whatever technique is used, concentrating on the breath entering your body can help you focus and clear your mind.
  2. Count your body parts. Starting with your pinky toe on one foot try counting each of the parts of your body parts traveling up and around your body. It sounds silly, but the old head, shoulder, knees, and toes trick works well for many!
  3. Imagine you are somewhere peaceful & private. Think of a beautiful place you've been to before and try to imagine you are there now, breathing in the fresh air of some natural surroundings as you relax. 


*See http://www.bettersleep.org/better-sleep/guide/ for the Better Sleep Council better sleep guide!
 
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