- A quiet, dark room
- A warm, comfortable bed
- A body free of aches and pains
- A mind free of distractions
If all four are present, falling asleep is just a matter of letting the sleep hormone, melatonin, do its job and we’ll drift off. The important part is that we ‘let’ it happen.
I’m sure we all experienced difficulties as children when we tried to get to sleep on Christmas Eve. Our minds full of anticipation for the day to come, plus maybe a little anxiety that if we couldn’t sleep, Father Christmas wouldn’t come, made it quite a challenge. I think we all learned a valuable lesson that shutting our eyes tighter and ‘trying’ to get to sleep just didn’t work.
Even without a warm bed or quiet room, if we’re tired enough we overcome an aching body and fall asleep almost anywhere. But without a mind free of distractions it is very difficult even if all other three conditions are present.
Anxiety and stress are amongst the most common causes of insomnia. If our mind is filled with negative thoughts, a dark room and lack of other stimuli will intensify those thoughts preventing the natural process.
So what can you do to aid the process?
From a physical point of view, simple things like checking your pillow is the right height to keep you spine in alignment and your neck is supported can help reduce tension.
Lessons in The Alexander Technique can help to drastically reduce muscular aches and pains through better, coordinated movement and improved posture. You soon come to appreciate how alignment and poise means less wear and tear on your body. Tensions you carry around all day, don’t suddenly disappear once you get into bed, and often persist when asleep. If you can remove habitual tension during the day, you don’t take it into your bed.
As for number (4) on our list, The Alexander Technique is an excellent way to learn how to ‘let go’ and get ‘into the moment’. The techniques used can help to promote mindfulness in all daily activities. And remember, if you take to bed what you do during the day, you’ll be in a better state to sleep at night if you’ve had a day with less stress and tension.
Calling to mind a fond memory can also help. You could visualise a favourite walk, or a place you’ve been on holiday as they will reduce anxiety and stress. The old advice of counting sheep can help to get you into the moment. But a better way in my view, is to focus on your breathing, the movement of your ribs and the mattress beneath your body.
Lastly, you should not become anxious about not being able to sleep as this obviously makes things worse. Learn to be detached and indifferent to your sleep patterns and this will ultimately allow your body to do the natural thing.
Posted by Roy Palmer
You can read more about The Alexander Technique here.