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Fall asleep faster with mental tricks that calm your racing mind

0 6 months ago

You’re exhausted, your body yawning for sleep. Yet once your head hits the pillow, your mind is flooded with worry, making sleep elusive, at times impossible.

Don’t fret, experts say: There are relaxation techniques you can use to calm that racing mind.

“Think of these relaxation exercises as tools in your tool kit for better sleep,” said sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in the division of sleep medicine for Harvard Medical School.

“Practice them, and you’ll get better and better at falling asleep, which is the holy grail, right? No one wants to spend time tossing and turning at night.”

How to fall asleep faster with these mental tricks to calm your mind | CNN1. Controlled deep breathing

Deep breathing is a science-backed method of calming the body and mind that can be done easily before you get into bed and when you wake during the middle of the night.

Changing the rhythm of your breath slows your heart rate, reduces blood pressure and stimulates the body’s parasympathetic “rest and digest” system, which can take worry and anxiety offline.

“Consciously focusing on the breath can help you separate yourself from the darting thoughts that fly through your brain,” Robbins said.

There are a number of deep breathing techniques you can try. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, focuses on relaxing the diaphragm, the main muscle of respiration. Start by taking a deep breath through your nose to a slow count of six, making sure that you can feel your stomach rise with your hand as it fills with air. Count to six again as you let the breath slowly escape.

“Strive for effortless inhales that are soft and soundless while treating your exhales like gentle, extended sighs of relief,” suggested CNN contributor Dana Santas, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach.

Stay in the moment, Santas said, by focusing on the sounds and sensations of your breath: “Direct all of your senses to follow the path of air in through your nose, down your throat, into your lungs and out again. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath, happening in the here and now.”

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