Four Simple Exercises For When You Can't Sleep

There are few things worse than a night spent staring at the ceiling, battling your thoughts. The leading cause of insomnia, anxiety and panic can peak in the early evenings just as we are preparing for sleep. Or worse still - it can strike in the middle of the night. 

Studies have also shown that relaxation exercises can be a simple yet effective way to manage these stress responses and clear the mind. Just like a muscle, the more you do these exercises the more effective and easier they will become. Try these exercises below next time you can’t sleep:

Body Scan

A powerful tool for those that suffer with panic or anxiety attacks, this exercise helps restore the mind-body connection. It can be done on the floor or in bed, which makes it perfect for bedtime.

Lie in a comfortable position, covering yourself with a blanket and resting your head on a cushion. Close your eyes and focus your awareness on steadily breathing in and out.

Starting at your feet, notice the sensations – pressure, pain, tingling, tightness – that you are feeling. As your mind wanders, notice it happening and then slowly return focus to your body.

Continue moving your attention up your body, noticing the points where you contact the floor, and exploring the sensations all the way up to your head. When you have finished scanning your entire body, close your eyes and carry the increased awareness with you through to bedtime.

Mindful Meditation

This simple exercise will help you increase awareness of your thoughts and feelings, which has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Begin in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Close your eyes and bring your attention to the present moment, focusing on your breath.

Inhale deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth. As thoughts or concerns drift through your mind, allow them to pass through and return your focus to your breathing.

Continue for five minutes or longer. Repeat daily to improve results.

4-7-8 Sleepy Breathing

If you are struggling with racing thoughts, anxiety or panic before bedtime, this exercise is a perfect way to wash away the overwhelm and refocus your mind.

In a comfortable position, with your eyes open or closed.

  1. Empty your lungs or air completely.
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose for four seconds.
  3. Then hold your breath for seven seconds.
  4. Purse your lips together and exhale slowly for eight seconds.

Repeat 4-5x, or until you fall asleep.

Thoughts on a Cloud

This activity is helpful for when your mind is flooded with anxious thoughts and you're struggling to focus your mind. Try our simple Cloud Meditation this simple exercise to clear the mind and ground yourself in the moment.

  1. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath.
  2. Visualise a brilliant blue sky on a sunny day.
  3. As thoughts come into your mind, imagine them as clouds in the sky: passing through your mind like clouds passing across the sky. 

Repeat 4-5x, or until your mind is clear.


Did you enjoy these exercises? Let us know if they helped you get some peaceful sleep. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can refer back to it later!

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