Trouble Falling Asleep? Try This.
Last week, one of the parents I work with told me that he has trouble with waking up in the middle of the night with his mind racing. He wanted to know what to do in that situation, because he has trouble falling back to sleep. It happens to all of us from time to time, so I thought I would share one thing that works for me when I have trouble falling asleep. You could even read this meditation to your child if they are having trouble falling back to sleep. It's called progressive relaxation.
Essentially you concentrate on different body parts and think about them relaxing. Sometimes you only make it halfway through the progression before you fall asleep; other times you might need to do it a couple times before you really relax. To begin, get in a comfortable position. If your goal is to fall asleep, put yourself in the position you would like to be in when sleeping. You can also use this to bring more relaxation to your day, so it is not necessary to be lying down. Move slowly, taking time with each location. Focus on the top of your head and think about relaxing the muscles in your forehead and your scalp. Think about relaxing your eyelids and imagine your eyes resting in your eye sockets. Imagine the muscles in your face relaxing and your jaw dropping.
If your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth, pull it away and gently rest it in your lower jaw. Imagine your jaw muscles relaxing as well as the muscles in the back of your neck, the muscles in your throat and then concentrate on your shoulders. If they are up by your ears allow them to sink, relaxing the muscles around your shoulder blades and sternum and the top of your back. Then focus on your stomach. Imagine that all your stomach muscles are relaxing and unclenching. Next, tune into the muscles in your lower back and hips and imagine those muscles relaxing. Focus on the muscles in your pelvis and your bottom, relaxing them. Move on to the top and back of your thighs and imagine those muscles relaxing. Next focus on your knees, shins, and calves and relax them.
Move to your ankles, the muscles on the top of your feet, the bottom of your feet, and the muscles in your toes. Then do a sweep again, imagining that all the other muscles that haven't quite let go are relaxed. That's the basic exercise. Hopefully by the time you reach the end, you will be asleep! It works because it gives your mind something else to focus on than the thoughts racing through it and, at the same time, you’re focusing on relaxing your muscles. It gets you into a more calm and restful place so that you can more easily fall asleep. Try it out and let me know how it works for you!