5 Relaxation Techniques For Sleep: Quieting Your Overactive Mind

Relaxation techniques for sleep.

Do you find it difficult to relax when your mind is flooded by endless worries and thoughts?

Stress, anxiety, and demanding life events put strain our minds and bodies making it difficult to unwind. If only our mind and body could enter into sleep mode as easily as a computer.

There are times when we will need some help moving into a state of sleep.

Fortunately, there are relaxation techniques for sleep that will help quiet your mind down after a busy day or night.

These techniques can be performed during the day or night to help relieve stress before you go to sleep.

Alternatively, you can also perform them if you are laying down in your bed or if you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot return to sleep.

Let us explore the 5 different relaxation techniques for sleep.

1. Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness exercises were made famous by Buddhist Monk, peace activist, and scholar Thich Nhat Hahn.

These techniques work by channeling your awareness in the present moment. If you find yourself lying awake concerned about what happened before in the past, or what will happen in the future. These techniques will help you bring back to the present moment.

I am a practitioner of Buddhist principles myself.

I have found this technique to be very effective when there are a lot of thoughts racing around in my mind, whether those thoughts are from how events could have played out differently in the past and how to plan for events in the future.

These mindfulness techniques have helped me deal with any anxiety or stress that makes it difficult to relax.

This technique has helped me out greatly and will do the very same for you.

This is the guide that I used to learn about mindfulness.

2. The 4-7-8 Yoga Breathing Technique

There are many different breathing techniques that are available. A very popular one is the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

The simple interpretation of this technique is to breathe in for four seconds, hold that breath for seven seconds, and exhale that breath for eight seconds.

A different version of this technique is one that others have claimed that have helped them go to sleep quicker.

This technique was initiated by the physician Dr. Andrew Weil. This version is unique because it induces a state of relaxation.

The doctor explains more in the video below:

3. Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises can be performed on their own or in collaboration with another relaxation technique. A large majority of meditation videos incorporate deep breathing exercises as well.

The two major parts of these exercises are to breathe in a slow controlled state and to breathe from your abdomen and not just from your chest.

The benefits of this relaxation technique include:

  1. Lowering your heart rate.
  2. Relaxing muscles that are tense and stiff.
  3. Taking your attention away from racing thoughts.
  4. Slow down your breathing if are feeling any anxiety or stress.
  5. This technique can be done as frequently as you want when you are lying down.

Structured Guide To Deep Breathing

  1. Schedule a moment to relax either sitting or lying down.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Place your feet flat on the floor if you are sitting up or keep your feet supported if you are lying down.
  4. Release tension in your muscles and keep your body still.
  5. Breathe slowly through your nose for four seconds.
  6. Hold that breathe for four seconds.
  7. Release that breathe through your mouth for four seconds.

As an addition to the exercise, when you inhale for four seconds envision that you are spreading calmness throughout your body and as you exhale for four seconds envision that you are removing tension from your body.

You can practice this exercise for 10 minutes, however there is no time limit for this breathing exercise. Continue the exercise until you feel calm and relaxed.

Video For Deep Breathing

This video walks you through the deep breathing exercise and comes with a vocal timer to help guide your breathing patterns:

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is an incredibly useful technique for the following reasons:

  1. The focused is placed on the body, not on thoughts in the mind.
  2. By having tension on your muscles puts tension on the mind.
  3. By tightening and relaxing certain muscles, you condition yourself to know what a state of relaxation feels. This is a goal that you should work for when you want to relax after a long day.

Structured Guideline For Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  1. Take a few moments to breathe deeply in a slow controlled manner.
  2. Inhale a deep breathe and contract your feet and toes for three to four seconds.
  3. Exhale slowly and release the tension from your feet and toes.
  4. Inhale a deep breathe and contract the muscles in your lower legs for three to four seconds.
  5. Exhale slowly and release the tension from the muscles in your lower legs.
  6. Inhale a deep breathe and contract the muscles in your upper legs and pelvis, hold for three to four seconds, exhale and release the tension from your upper legs and pelvis.
  7. Repeat the technique in this order with the corresponding body parts.
  8. Stomach and chest.
  9. Upper and lower back.
  10. Shoulders, arms, and hands.
  11. Neck and face muscles. (This works by using a scrunching motion)
  12. Lastly, contract all the muscles in your body all at once (do not strain yourself), and hold for three to four seconds.
  13. Exhale slowly and relax every part of your body.
  14. Go through the whole body technique three more times.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Video

This video will guide you through the progressive muscle relaxation technique:

5. Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is an excellent way to remove all the thoughts that are overwhelming your mind and allows you to focus on something that is relaxing.

If you find yourself lying awake tossing and turning while feeling restless. This relaxation technique will help lead you to a much calmer state of mind.

This technique is a personal favorite of mine. There have been many times in the past that I have found myself completely unable to sleep due to having an overactive mind from thinking too much.

For the last few years, I have meditated on a consistent basis and noticed that I feel much calmer in the later parts of the evening before going to sleep. I no longer have an overactive mind that prevents me from sleeping soundly.

This is one of the videos that I have on my Youtube playlist that has helped me out and it will do the very same for you:

6. Suggestions

This is a list of of suggestions that I have received from others in the past.

  • Do not view any scary movies before bedtime.
  • Block out all forms of light and noise.
  • Drink herbal tea.
  • Do not drink a lot of fluids close to bed time.
  • Read books.

Final Thoughts

We live in a very fast paced world where rest and relaxation is often underrated.

Life can be very demanding/taxing on the mind and body.

Coming from my own experience. I know this first hand because I was once a very severe workaholic and have been guilty of this in the past.

Just as you need time to power up. You also need time to power down.

Taking some time to relax before going to sleep will benefit you greatly. We all need to relax and take a breather every so often. Right?

What helps calm your mind down?

Are there any technique that you can share with others?

Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash

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12 Comments on “5 Relaxation Techniques For Sleep: Quieting Your Overactive Mind”

  1. Hello Abioye, 

    I am glad that I was able to show the way. You have the right mindset. Most people do indeed overwork themselves and have the idea that working more is better. However, overworking yourself can lead to burnout and physical/mental fatigue. I have seen it happen many times. Relaxation is one of the most overlooked parts of our health and it something that is usually not a priority. We live in a very fast paced world full of chaos and technology. This overstimulation can be too much on the mind and it can cause our brains to be overloaded. Taking time to relax and breath does wonders for our health. I encourage everybody to schedule some downtime every now and then.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  2. Hello Jermy,

    Anytime and I glad that I was able to help you. Being a CSR is definitely a frantic occupation. There is a lot of noise and activity happening especially in an area where there is a lot of traffic. We live in a highly stimulated world today where peace and quiet can be difficult to obtain sometimes. Having an overactive mind and being wound up definitely makes going to sleep difficult.I have experienced this before myself and I knew there had to be a way to manage this. These relaxation techniques are ones that I have used myself and wanted to share them with others who had the same issue.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  3. Hello Grace,

    Anytime and I agree. Having an overactive mind is a difficult thing to deal with especially when we need to relax enough to go to sleep. I have experienced this many times before and wanted to share some techniques that I have discovered that helps calm down racing thoughts. 

    The mindfulness technique is incredibly useful and you are right. It does indeed help us come back to the present moment so that we do not think about what happened or what will happen. This helps remove any extra noise in our mind and when we are present in the moment relaxation follows.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  4. Hello Dave,

    Trouble going to sleep at night is very common and affects many people, (myself included) so you are not alone. The deep breathing is a very effective relaxation technique. I have used this technique before when feeling very tense and needed a method to help relieve tension. It will do the very same for you.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  5. Hello Sujandar,

    Anytime and I am glad that you found the article useful. I do my best to present the techniques in a manner that is easy to understand and it is great to know that you had no problem reading the content. Yes, these techniques are excellent to help calm the mind and body down. I have tested out all of these techniques and they are effective. 

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  6. This is highly inspiring. Many people do overwork themselves not knowing relaxation is very essential. It is the key to a stable health. I love all the points written above, but the most valued of all is the third point the deep breathing exercise. This is what I have been longing to know about long time ago. I am super excited seeing this tonight. The mindfulness exercise is well explained and it should be practiced as well.

  7. Wow! A well put together article as it got my attention reading and watching the videos of relaxation techniques for getting sleep. I am a CSR at the main tourist attraction in Jamaica and my days at work can be really hectic, which results in a night with a lot on my mind. This makes it hard for me to sleep so am always tired the following morning. Seeing this article really put a smile on my face. I am going to use one or two of the techniques to sleep later in the night. I hope it really helps, thanks for sharing.

  8. I often work until late night and I find it hard to quiet down my mind when it comes to the time to sleep. 

    I tried some of your tips and it helps! Focusing on the present moment helps bring us back to reality and no longer get trapped inside our flow of thoughts. Thank you for sharing! 

  9. These are really great tips. I am someone who has trouble going to sleep on most nights. I am familiar with some of these techniques, but now you have given me a few new ones that I want to try out. I am really interested in the deep breathing exercise and look forward to trying it out tonight!

  10. I am one of those people who has trouble sleeping everyday. I am glad I found this article. It has a lot of mind controlling and breathing exercises to help me go to sleep. The good thing is that it is really easy for me to read the explanations and understand the steps written in this article.

    I am going try this tonight and see how it goes. Thank you for sharing this article.

  11. Hello Renton,

    Well said. Most people do not make mental and physical rest a priority especially in the incredibly fast paced world we live in today. Most people believe that rest and relaxation is waste of time (I say otherwise to that). The reality is that we are not built to work like machines all the time. We get mentally and physically exhausted from overworking ourselves. We can get sick when we do not take care of our health and this can have long term effects.
    The truth is that your mind, body and spirit need time recharge so that you can feel rejuvenated. That will allow you to return to your medium of work with much more vitality. I recommend that everybody should take some time off from what they are doing to relax and take a nice deep breath.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  12. Interesting post! I think people tend to neglect the true importance of mental and physical rest. You only have one body and have to take care of it as a whole rather than just separate parts.

    It is far too easy (especially in today’s world) to work too much, worry about things or even go out too much. Rest is (or should be) a very peaceful time for your body to heal itself. I also think that includes your mind.

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