What exercises can be done to relax before sleeping

Sleep problems are quite common, it is estimated that 40% of the population suffers from them.

This does not mean that they must be naturalized, since if they are extended for long periods of time they can cause serious health consequences.

Fortunately, there are habits and exercises that can be done before sleeping to deal with this situation.
Sleep problems can have different causes, the most common being:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Poor diet: this includes a diet rich in processed or very sweet foods (they increase blood sugar levels and cause hormonal imbalances), red meat (difficult to digest), or spicy food (can cause stomach problems).
  • Bad habits, such as irregular sleeping patterns, or engaging in stimulating activities before bed, such as watching television, playing video games, or using a cell phone.
  • Irregular travel or work hours.
  • Having certain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, or gastroesophageal reflux.
  • Taking certain medications, for example, for asthma, allergies, weight loss, blood pressure, pain, or depression.

Exercises for better sleep

Modifying these factors can facilitate falling asleep. This can also be supported with various breathing and concentration exercises that are aimed at clearing the mind and relaxing the body.

As with other types of exercises, such as aerobic or anaerobic, these techniques require practice and perseverance to obtain results.

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Breathing techniques

Breathing slowly and deeply is one of the techniques most used in different ancient practices that seek to increase relaxation, such as tai chi or yoga.

You can start to practice this habit by lying in bed, breathing slowly, extending the periods of inhalation and exhalation. You can also hold your breath for 15-20 seconds, then slowly exhale.

Combine sets of repetitions of different breathing techniques until you find a feeling of calm. Other options that will help you manage stress, increase relaxation and achieve better sleep are:

Abdominal breathing

This type of breathing involves the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs.

  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your upper abdomen.
  • Breathe through your nose so that your belly presses against the hand located on your abdomen. The other hand, on the chest, should remain as still as possible.
  • Tighten your stomach muscles and exhale with pursed lips (similar to whistling), always keeping your chest still.
  • Repeat the process several times.

Breathing 4-7-8

As the name implies, this is a way of breathing that consists of:

  • Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  • Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat the process several times.

Visualization or scanning exercises

Another very popular and easy exercise to relax the body before sleeping is to implement visualization techniques.

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What’s that? It is about resorting to mental images to create a feeling of well-being, relieving tension, reducing stress and promoting sleep.

Here there are no answers, or rather, right or wrong images. Each person must find an environment conducive to relaxation. For this exercise:

  • It begins by lying on the bed.
  • Use one of the previously developed breathing techniques.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Place yourself in a satisfying and relaxing environment, you must generate that mental image little by little, concentrating on every detail.
  • In the same way, the return to your room should be gradual, blurring that image little by little.

You can also resort to body scans, a type of meditation that involves focusing slow attention on each part of the body. For it:

  • It begins by lying on the bed.
  • Use one of the previously developed breathing techniques.
  • Once you feel the tension easing, focus on your feet, paying special attention to any sensations.
  • Recognize any associated discomfort and visualize it leaving your body.
  • Continue with this process, but this time on the calves, hips, hands, chest, and finally head.
  • Finish when you have covered your entire body.
  • Muscle relaxation

    Progressive muscle relaxation consists of complementing the tension and relaxation of different muscle areas of the body: forehead, around the eyes and nose, cheeks and jaw, around the mouth, neck, arms, shoulders, chest, back, stomach, hips and buttocks , thighs and calves.

    • It begins by lying on the bed.
    • Use one of the previously developed breathing techniques.
    • As you inhale, tense the first group of muscles for 5 to 10 seconds (to facilitate order and cover all parts of the body, you can start from one end, front or feet, and work to the opposite).
    • As you exhale, quickly relax the muscles of the tensed muscle group.
    • Continue to relieve tension and breathe deeply for a few seconds, and move on to the next muscle group.
    • Finally, focus on keeping all muscle groups relaxed while falling asleep.
    • Do not forget

      Incorporating healthy habits and making these exercises part of your sleep routine can help you sleep better. Experts note that incorporating physical activities, such as yoga, can also be very helpful before bed.

      It is important to identify what the triggers of sleeping problems are, to find ways to fix or avoid them during the day.

      Keep in mind that if sleeping problems last for many days, you should see a health professional, as it may be a symptom of an underlying condition. This will make a diagnosis and determine the best treatment for your situation.

      Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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