Diana Kelly Levey

The 10-Minute Trick to Help You Sleep

January 30, 2018 | Categories:

There’s nothing more annoying than not being able to fall sleep. You’re in your favorite pjs, you’re totally beat…but nada, no sleep for you.  Spending 10 minutes doing a tension-taming technique before bedtime was shown to significantly improve the sleep quality in study participants, according to a study in the journal CHEST. The technique involved different types of simple deep breathing and imagery—whatever participants preferred. 

For more ways to relax before bed—or any time of day—try these quick stress solutions:

1. Give yourself a hug.

When you think negatively about yourself, the brain’s amygdala sends signals that increase blood pressure and raise adrenaline and cortisol levels. Researcher Kristin Neff, PhD, at the University of Texas, recommends the “surreptitious self-hug”—wrapping your arms around yourself and squeezing. Even your own touch releases oxytocin and other biochemicals that promote well-being.

2. Be a jaw dropper

“Relaxing your tongue and jaw sends a message to your brain stem and limbic system to turn off the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol,” says neuropsychologist Marsha Lucas, PhD. Simply let your tongue go limp in your mouth, and then open your mouth slightly, which will instantly loosen up your jaw. “These exercises help bring our parasympathetic nervous system online, which tells our bodies to rest and restore,” Lucas says.

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3. Focus on the exhale

We’ve all heard that deep breathing is crucial to feeling tranquil, but the most important part of it is breathing out, says neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, the author ofBuddha’s Brain. “When you elongate your exhalations, you spark your parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down your heart rate.” Take three long exhalations, making them twice as long as your inhalation.

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4. Think sensually

Next time you’re feeling frazzled, try a tactile solution. During peak moments of stress, endorphins released into the brain relieve pain and begin a recovery period. Doing things that feel good physically—such as taking a warm shower or listening to a favorite piece of music—mimics this process and shuts down the stress deluge.

This article originally appeared on Prevention.com.

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