Relaxation Techniques for Sleeping

Senior woman looking thoughtfully at tablet in bed

Do you often find yourself counting sheep or studying the texture of your ceiling because you just can’t seem to fall asleep? You’re certainly not alone. About 30 to 48 percent of seniors experience symptoms of insomnia, which means that they struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep, consolidating sleep, or enjoying high-quality sleep. If you’ve had trouble sleeping lately, we encourage you to talk to your doctor to find an effective solution. In addition, you may find it helpful to explore some relaxation techniques for sleeping. When counting sheep just isn’t cutting it, check out the ideas below.

Relaxation Techniques for Sleeping

First of all, try not to lie in bed worrying about how you’re not able to fall asleep. Your anxiety will not help whisk you off to dreamland. Instead, you should aim to relieve the physical tension in your body and interrupt any troublesome thought processes keeping you awake. The following ideas may help:

Imagine a Peaceful Scene

Where do you feel most relaxed? What is a place that you find particularly pleasant? Where is your “happy place,” as some might say? Imagine yourself in one of these places to help your body relax and your worries vanish. Perhaps you would feel at peace on an empty beach, watching the waves gently ebb and flow. Or maybe you would enjoy sitting in a secluded cabin, watching the snow fall outside your window. Here are a few other peaceful setting ideas: sitting in a beautiful garden or meadow, enjoying a cozy spot beside a fireplace, gazing out a window during a rainstorm, or appreciating the scenery at a national park. You might even find it helpful to imagine yourself falling asleep.

Relax Your Muscles Step by Step

Two common relaxation techniques for sleeping are progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic training:

  • Progressive Muscle RelaxationWith this technique, you tense (or tighten) groups of muscles around your body, one by one, and then relax them again. Typically you’re encouraged to relax the muscle groups in a specific order, starting with your lower extremities and ending with the face, abdomen, and chest. The process is usually timed according to your breaths.
  • Autogenic TrainingUsing this similar technique, you focus your awareness on different parts of the body, one by one, and then relax them. You’re typically encouraged to imagine yourself in a peaceful setting and to focus on specific bodily sensations, such as the weight of your limbs or the calmness of your heartbeat.

When used properly, both of these techniques can relax your body, helping you fall asleep. You can learn how to employ these techniques through training courses.


In addition to the relaxation tools described above, keep in mind that there are a variety of things you can do to prepare yourself for a restful night of sleep. Consider sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding stimulants before bed (coffee, tea, alcohol), getting more exercise during the day, and making sure that your bedroom is dark and quiet.

Sweet dreams!

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