Updated: Mar 7
I have found, throughout my career as an Osteopath, those patients that sleep well repair and recover much better and faster than those who do not. When we sleep our body has a chance to repair. The better the quality of sleep the better it is for our health. Many people do not spend enough time in the deep part of the sleep cycle, which is when our body has a chance to restore itself.
Most people believe that sleep just happens and it is something that we cannot bring about. I disagree. If you are blessed with the ability to put your head on your pillow and quickly fall asleep that’s great. But many of us don’t and we can struggle to get to sleep. It may be something that is temporary or it may be something that has been going on for a long time and has become a habit that we cannot get rid of. By learning, practicing and using this method you CAN restore the ability to fall asleep quickly.
This technique I have been using myself and teaching my patients for many years. It is a modified version of the one taught to military personnel around the world.
This technique teaches you how to put yourself into a deep state of relaxation that quickly leads to sleep. It is a good idea to teach yourself and practice it when you do not have a sleep problem. Trying to learn and implement it when you are struggling to sleep makes it more challenging but it can still help if you persevere.
I am going to assume that you have already done your best to prepare yourself; your room and your bed for sleep (see my blog on these matters if you need reminding).
- Lie on your back with your head on your pillow and your body covered in your favourite duvet or blanket.
- Place your hands by your side or rest them on your tummy.
- Let your entire body go heavy. It may help if you try to imagine that you are sinking into your pillow and bed.
- Let your arms and hands become heavy.
- Let your shoulders drop into the bed and become heavy too.
- Finally let your face muscles relax, imagine that your head and face are so heavy that they are sinking down into your pillow.
Stage 1 is to relax your entire body in readiness for the next part.
- Focus on what you are thinking and immediately say (not out loud) to yourself DON’T THINK!
- At the same time RE-relax your face and shoulders by making them go heavy.
- When you have another thought creeping into your mind say to yourself DON’T THINK! And again relax your face and shoulders.
- Each time you go through this process you are putting yourself into a deeper state of relaxation.
- It is very important that you relax your face and shoulders each and every time.
You may need to repeat the DON’T THINK process several times but eventually you will fall asleep. It does take a bit of practice but once you have done it a few times it becomes easier and you will not need to repeat DON’T THINK as often.
This technique works just as well for falling asleep when you first get into bed as it does if you wake up during the night.