Half the battle when you can't get to sleep is trying to stop thinking about getting to sleep. As soon as you allow your brain to switch off in that way, you usually find you'll drop off. But... er, that's easier said than done, right?
The good thing is, there are ways around this, by using simple techniques when you climb into bed to calm yourself. The same thing won't work for everyone, but if you try different things you've got more chance of finding the relaxation technique that works for you.
"Relaxation is a good way to relax the mind and body. It is a good distraction technique which helps to focus your mind away from intrusive and worrying thoughts," says consultant health psychologist Dr Sue Peacock.
So, what relaxation exercises can you use to help you get to sleep? We asked three experts for the failsafe approaches that work for them every time...
1. What have you achieved today?
"Think about three things you have achieved today, no matter how big or small. Ideally, these relate to what you intended to do (I tell my clients to clarify this when they wake up in the morning, to connect to their day ahead). This gives you (and your mind) a sense of meaningfulness and 'job well done'. No need to worry about the future."
- Dr Kat Lederle, head of sleep health at Somnia
2. Box breathing
"I like Box Breathing. Focus on your breathing and breathe in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4 and rest for 4."
- Sleep expert James Wilson, AKA The Sleep Geek
3. The 'the' game
"My favourite technique is thought stopping. Say the word 'the' every 2 seconds, rarely will you get beyond 5 minutes before you are sleeping. This works as it blocks your negative thoughts and because the word 'the' does not mean anything or have any emotion attached to it, your mind will not wander.
"Guided visualisation types of relaxation are also helpful, or describing your favourite place to yourself in great detail. Counting sheep and number games etc are not conducive to sleep as they stimulate your mind."
- Consultant health psychologist, Dr Sue Peacock
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