How to Sleep Better

Frijolito, our cat, asleep without unnecessary tension. 

Frijolito, our cat, asleep without unnecessary tension. 

Many people ask me if the Alexander Technique (AT) can help with insomnia and getting a better night’s sleep. Yes, AT can help!

My sleep ritual is inspired by AT principles and strategies, and it’s one of the most effective I’ve ever used. This ritual requires very little effort and it can be done before bed, in bed, or if you wake up in the middle of the night. Also, the order of the steps isn’t important – you can do them in any order you like.

1. Say your AT Directions
“I allow my neck to be free, so my head may balance delicately at the top of the spine, to allow my whole torso to lengthen and widen.”
Wish your directions without searching for a release and without doing anything like stretching. Trust that over time your thinking will help you move into more ease and less tightening.
I like to think of how a cat, dog, or a baby sleeps – there is no unnecessary tension.

2. Soften your vision
About an hour before you go to sleep, begin to soften your vision. What does this mean? In a nutshell, this means not over-focusing or straining your eyes.
The verbs “look” and “see” imply we do something, we work, in order to see. To soften your vision, allow what you are seeing to come to you. It’s a passive seeing, imagining that what you see is coming into your sight, rather than actively looking.
Begin to include your peripheral vision. It’s common to over-focus on objects and people during the day, such as on a laptop or a mobile device screen.
But now, you want to direct your vision to be easy and soft, and including the peripheral vision is a good way to help you do so.

3. Notice your breathing
Don’t try to change it, just simply notice it.
No need to try to deepen your breathing by emptying your lungs completely or sucking in air when you inhale.
Simply allow the breath to move in and out.

You could put one hand on your ribs and another on your abdomen. Notice how your torso changes shape as you breathe. If you like, you can gently place your attention on the out breath.

I hope these steps help you sleep. Don't forget to take practical steps to sleep better (less caffeine, turn off your mobile device/computer an hour before bed).

What are your favorite ways to get yourself to sleep and have a restful night?