“Sleep is the best meditation.” — Dalai Lama
I used to have a very hard time falling asleep at night. When I got into bed my mind would race a mile a minute and I would be thinking about events of the day, and things I said that I wished I hadn’t. Sounds so fun, right? No wonder I couldn’t fall asleep!
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but many of us don’t get that.
Until I learned to let go of the day, I couldn’t relax into sleep. Because I couldn’t relax into sleep, I turned to sleeping pills, which led to an addiction. The more mindful I became during the day, and the more compassion I began to have for myself, the more I realized that things about my bedtime routine needed to change. It took two years, but I finally felt ready.
I gained the confidence to turn my habits around, and worked hard to teach myself how to fall asleep naturally. As scary as it was at first, I can now get into bed and fall asleep. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing this feels after years of struggle.
If you struggle with falling asleep because your mind can’t shut down at night, here are three tools that you should try:
Letting Go of the Day Journaling
It’s amazing how the little things can really make a big impact. I have no clue why this simple technique works like magic, but it does!
1.Take a piece of paper and write down everything you did that day. Significant and insignificant too
2. Next to each item write down one adjective for how it made you feel. It can be negative, positive or neutral (examples are excited, surprised, bored, judged, happy, sad)
3. Turn the paper over and rewrite all the positive things and their adjectives
4. Walk to your toilet or trash can and rip up the paper into tiny pieces. Literally, say “goodbye” to your day. Throw the pieces in the toilet and flush, or throw in the trash can
5. Tell yourself tomorrow is a brand new day. Everything from today is done
6. Get into bed
This is a very relaxing exercise to do before bed.
1. Lay down
2. Place your hand on your lower belly
3. As you breathe feel your hand rise. It’s almost like you are blowing up a balloon in your belly as you inhale
4. Exhale and let all the air out of your balloon
5. Repeat 9 times
This can be another great way to unwind and relax into sleep. When I was transitioning off sleeping pills I used all three of these tools every night. Body Scans are great meditations before bed, or any type of breathing exercise for a few minutes. Try it on your own, or use a guided meditation.
There are many guided meditations and body scans in The Mindfulness App to choose from, start there if you don’t know where to begin.
I hope that these tools help you to let go of your day and fall asleep faster!