Relaxation Exercises to Help You Sleep




Relaxation is a very useful skill to develop. Like any skill it takes time to learn relaxation and you’ll get better with practice. This page introduces you to three different relaxation exercises. You can choose the method that works best for you or use a mix of all of them.

You can use relaxation exercises at any time of the day but they are particularly useful at night. Going to sleep can be a challenge because we are alone with our thoughts. If we start worrying or thinking about past mistakes we won’t be able to sleep. Relaxation exercises give us something to focus our mind on to distract ourselves from worrying or distressing thoughts. For more about sleep you can read this page.

Deep Breathing (Diaphragmatic Breathing)

A good quick way to relax is to take control of our breathing. If we slow down our breathing our heart rate usually follows.

Here’s a video talking you through the steps. If you find that you get dizzy when doing this exercise then don’t worry. You’re just getting more oxygen than you need. It’s not dangerous but you might feel a bit odd. Try to breathe out for longer and in for less time.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

You can do this relaxation exercise sitting in a chair or lying down. It’s a good for people who find they feel physically very tense. If you get neck pains or physical aches when stressed this might be a good exercise to practise.

You can try either of the following videos:

Imagery and visualisation

This relaxation exercise is really good for getting your mind off of worrying thoughts. The idea is to try to imagine a place or ‘paint a picture in your mind’. It really doesn’t matter how good that picture is (mine are always a bit fuzzy). Instead the process of thinking of every little detail keeps your mind occupied and away from worries.

It’s best not to imagine a place that you’ve actually been because that tends to trigger off lots of other thoughts that might not be helpful (life was better back then ….. etc).

You can go anywhere in your mind. From a tropical beach, to a glade in the Alps to a little French village. The video below talks you through a walk in a forest.

Any questions or comments?

Did you find this article helpful? If you have any questions on this topic write them in comments section at the bottom of this page and I’ll reply to you as soon as possible. It would also be good to read any comments or opinions you may have.

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