Sleep Inducing Techniques

An often neglected side benefit of regular total body relaxation is an improved ability to fall asleep quickly and to sleep soundly. Many of the people who participate in relaxation programs report that they use these exercises as a means of relaxing - and then drift to sleep from this relaxed state.

There are two main reasons why relaxation techniques are useful for inducing sleep. First, a relaxed body is prepared for sleep; and second, when you focus your attention inward on a specific routine, you are less likely to think about outside stimuli or thoughts that would hinder the sleeping process.

Body Search For Sensations

  • Assume your desired sleeping position. As you focus on your exhalation, exhale and relax.
  • For two or three exhalations, focus on the supporting environment and allow the environment to support your body as you continue to exhale, and r-e-l-a-x.
  • Following these exhalations, allow your attention to wander through the body. There is no set sequence, nor should you be in a hurry. As you "move" through the body, identify any sensations that you may feel or sense (heaviness, warmth, heartbeat, coolness, twitching, pressure, gurgling in the stomach or intestines, tension, stillness.)
  • Upon identifying a sensation, mentally acknowledge the sensation in your mind's eye and continue to wander through the body and passively search for others. You will notice that the number of sensations diminishes after a few minutes. As the mind continues to focus inward on the body, the mind will become quiet and sleep will result.

Body Search And The Breathing Rhythm

  • Assume your desired sleeping position. As you focus on your exhalation, exhale and relax.
  • For two or three exhalations, focus on the supporting environment and allow the environment to support your body as you continue to exhale and r-e-l-a-x.
  • Beginning at the head and moving downward, perform a body search for tension or movement. While focused on each body segment or muscle group, exhale and relax away any tensions you note.
  • Upon completing the body search, focus on the exhalations only and as you exhale, relax, let go, and think or silently repeat the word "sleep" in time with each exhalation.
  • As the mind begins to drift, allow nature to run its course.

Counting Coupled With Breathing Rhythm

  • Assume your desired sleeping position. As you focus on your exhalation, exhale and relax.
  • For two or three exhalations, focus on the supporting environment and allow that environment to support your body as you continue to exhale, and r-e-l-a-x.
  • As you continue to focus in the exhalation phase, count in sequence from one to ten and then from ten to one. Count one number per exhalation and repeat this sequence until sleep results.
  • Variation: Count backward from ninety-nine until sleep results.

Breathing Rhythms

  • Assume your desired sleeping position. As you focus on your exhalation, exhale and relax.
  • For two or three exhalations, focus on the supporting environment and allow that environment to support your body as you continue to exhale, and r-e-l-a-x.
  • As you become more and more relaxed, focus on the exhalations and note the sensations (sinking down, slowing down, patience, heaviness) on each successive exhalation.
  • Once relaxed, visualize the body's breath as being composed of colored vapors, and see the air flow into and out of the body. Do not force any sensation or visualization -- allow them to happen. Focus only on the breath, and allow the body to breathe itself. Sleep will result naturally.

Progressive Relaxation

  • Assume your desired sleeping position. As you focus on your exhalation, exhale and relax.
  • For two or three exhalations, focus on the supporting environment and allow that environment to support your body as you continue to exhale, and r-e-l-a-x.
  • Begin with the smallest body parts or muscle in one foot and continue to move your attention upward. As you reach the thigh of your starting leg, return to the toes of the opposite leg and repeat the same sequence. Relax each body part or muscle in time with your exhalations. Do not concern yourself with missed body parts or muscle groups.
  • Keep your focus inward, and do not feel you must complete the exercise.
  • Allow yourself to drift into sleep when the body and mind are ready.