One way to get a good night’s sleep is to manage your stress level during the day. If you’re like most people you’re racing from one task to another all day long.
Heart rate and blood pressure increases. The blood rushes to the arms and legs preparing you to fight or flee. This is how we’re wired and this is a good thing when we’re in danger.
The problem is that while the body is intelligent, it doesn’t know whether we’re being chased by a saber-toothed tiger or if some just cut us off on the highway. Living in a chronic state of stress reactivity is harmful.
The solution? Pause and pay attention to your breathing several times throughout the day. This will help slow the rate at which stress hormones, known as adrenaline and cortisol, pump through the body and get you back to “rest and digest”, a calmer state.
Doing this as you go about your day will make it easier to ‘come down from the day’ and fall asleep at night.
When you get into bed you can do a simple mindfulness practice to help you sleep.
Bringing your attention to breathing. Following the air as it moves in and out of the body. Noticing if your breath is shallow or deep. There’s no correct way to breathe. Aware of where you feel yourself breathing; at the nostrils, chest, or abdomen. Letting your attention rest there. Noticing any thoughts that may be going through your mind now. Observing one thought at a time as it passes through the mind without judgment. Like leaves floating down a stream. When a thought comes into the mind— notice it, let it go, and bring the attention back to your breathing. Back to home base. You can do this over and over even if you have 100 thoughts.
Like a muscle that gets exercised, eventually you will train your mind. And be able to get a good night’s sleep.