Sleep Quantity & Sleep Quality

Time to relax!

Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Instead of making falling asleep your goal, it’s often easier to focus on just trying to relax. Prepare yourself to be able to drift off to sleep by getting yourself relaxed. Controlled breathing works very well. Try it out when you can’t easily fall asleep. It is also a good exercise when you feel frustrated or are ruminating. The breathing exercise goes as followed:

Step 1:
Lie flat on your back all the way but without flexing your muscles. So, your legs are spread, with your toes pointing outwards. Place your two hands on your belly, just below your ribs, at the level of your belly button. Become aware of what’s going on in your head. Notice your stream of thoughts as a mentale events, an events that only takes place in your head: ‘I am ruminating about situation X’ or ‘I am worrying about my sleep’. Do this without digging into the content nor judging. Consider your thoughts as if it are passing clouds. They come and go. You accept them for what they are: temporary mental thoughts. You say to yourself: ‘So be it’. You now let them go.

Step 2:
Become aware of your hands resting on your belly. Pay attention to the feeling of your hands going up and down every time you breathe without forcing anything. Your chest should barely move. 

Step 3:
Shift your attention towards your breathing as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Focus optimally by feeling how you are slowly breathing in and out. Notice where you are feeling the inhale, then the exhale, and how each breath is different from the previous and the next. Pay attention to how your experience changes. Imagine your belly is a balloon that is inflated when you inhale (it is filled with air), pushing your hands away. And notice how your hands fall down while exhaling, as your belly collapses and becomes empty. You imagine that the air is released from the balloon and that it shrinks. Make sure you breathe in for about the same amount of time as you breathe out, and that you clearly sense all your body sensations. 

Step 4:
Spread your breathing all over your body, as if you were swaying on the waves of your breath with your whole body. Say to yourself something like: ‘It is what it is, I let it be.’

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