Challenge to Change: Relaxation techniques to improve sleep

By Bobby DeMuro

The last few weeks, we've covered several different aspects of sleep medicine, and reviewed some of the ways to get healthy, restful sleep every night; and remember, your challenge is to get at least seven hours each night! 

A big part of the issue regarding effective sleeping patterns that we haven't yet covered is the mind state and stress level present while preparing your bedroom routine at night. Obviously, an anxious, stressed or agitated person is likely going to have a more difficult time getting to - and staying - asleep than a relaxed, calm individual. 

So what are we supposed to do to make sure we have the right state of mind before bedtime? Well for some, meditation techniques work. That may sound a little unrealistic for you, and while they have been proven effective, there are other more mainstream ways to cool down and relax before bed. 

First, and I mentioned it already, it's critical to create a restful bedroom space. Your bed is for sleeping - it's not for doing office work, making phone calls, paying bills, or anything else like that. It will go a long way towards general relaxation to block out the noise from your sleeping space, and keep your bedroom a place for sleeping by getting rid of anything work- or responsibility-related. And that holds for the morning, too; when you wake up, get out of the bedroom! Go about your daily activities around the house and leave the bedroom for sleeping. 

Just like it's beneficial to cut out the late night snacks in favor of better sleep without digesting food, it's also important to switch off your mind, away from obligations. Rather thank working right up until bedtime, give yourself an hour or two to de-clutter your mind and calm down from the day. 

Finally, breathe. Correct breathing is the most affective and easiest relaxation technique, yet very few people take the time to effectively and quietly do it every day at bedtime. It can be something as simple as taking ten deep, slow, controlled breaths with your shoulders relaxed and eyes closed as a simple calming technique to let out some of the anxiety you inevitably carry through your day. 

Remember, a big key to getting effective, restful sleep is being in the right mindset. More than just "turning off your brain," your night time actions can help you get a solid and consistent routine that promotes rest and relaxation, and works wonders for overall health with more sleep. 

Congratulations! You've made it through our sleep challenge. Keep sleeping at least 7 hours a night, but at the very least, you've been able to take some time to perfect a healthy bedtime routine.

About the author:Bobby DeMuro is the Founder of No Fizz America, a non-profit dedicated to health and fitness. He is also the founder FusionSouth, a sports conditioning firm. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook .

You can listen to Bobby on his weekly radio show on Radio Exiles.