7 Relaxation Techniques for Sleep That Actually Work

7 Relaxation Techniques for Sleep That Actually Work
Written by Maisie Bygraves on Aug 04, 2021.
Scientifically fact checked by Nick Witton, Sleep Scientist.

Are you struggling with sleep? Do you find that your bedtime routine isn’t as effective as it could be or perhaps what you get up to before bed doesn’t press the right relaxation buttons? It’s probably good to hear that you’re not alone.

As many as 16 million people in the UK suffer with sleep problems (including insomnia) as a result of stress, anxiety and a poor bedtime routine.

That’s where Kokoon steps in. We’ve picked 7 of the best relaxation techniques for sleep that’ll help you nail your sleep problems, improve your bedtime routine and enhance the quality of your sleep, night after night. Ready to sleep better?

What are sleep relaxation techniques and how do they work?

Sleep relaxation techniques aim to achieve both physical and mental relaxation, which in turn promote a better night’s sleep. They work by slowing down your heart rate and alleviating stress, to help you fall asleep faster and get more restful sleep.

InformedHealth describes how “the aim of relaxation techniques is to achieve physical and mental relaxation. They are meant to reduce physical tension and interrupt the thought processes that are affecting sleep”.

So, let’s explore these techniques in more detail.

Best sleep relaxation techniques and exercises

  1. Meditation
  2. Coloured noise
  3. Deep breathing
  4. Progressive muscle relaxation
  5. Brain wave music
  6. Hypnosis
  7. Visualisation

1. Meditation

Meditation can be a great way to slow your heart rate, focus your mind and also benefit the brain and body collectively. It doesn’t have to be difficult either. The purpose of meditation is to calm anxious thoughts and help you to immerse yourself into the present moment.

But even if you feel your mind wandering whilst you meditate, there’s no need to worry. The fact you're taking the time to work on yourself can be hugely beneficial in itself.

How to meditate for sleep

The MyKokoon app has a lovely guided meditation called Mindful Moments. Throughout the meditation it talks you through focusing on your breath, creating positive mental imagery and relieving any tension. It’s 18-minutes long which means you can give it a listen during your lunch break and still enjoy an outdoor stroll to stretch your legs.

How to listen to the MyKokoon app

  1. Head to your app store.
  2. Download MyKokoon and follow the instructions.
  3. Browse our relaxation and sleep audio.
  4. Find Mindful Meditations and listen in.

Download MyKokoon on the App Store

Download MyKokoon on the Play Store

2. Coloured noise

Coloured Noise

White, pink and brown noise can have a positive effect on sleep and relaxation. Your brain will process sounds as you sleep - some are more disturbing like noisy neighbours or a cat fight, whereas others like coloured noise can help your brain to ‘switch off’ whilst you nod off.

That’s why we use coloured noise through our Nightbuds as we monitor you drifting off to sleep - it also masks any external disturbances too.

Pink noise includes rustling leaves, wind and raindrops, whereas white noise refers to a whirring fan, static or the hum of a laptop. The benefits are that it can mask noises that disturb and stimulate your brain.

How to use coloured noise for sleep

If you head to Kokoon’s Spotify, you’ll find some relaxing coloured noise playlists. Start with Summer Meadow, which is 21 minutes of blissful white noise and then move onto 20 minutes of white, brown or pink noise.

How to listen on Spotify

Find and listen to Summer Meadow to get you started:

3. Deep breathing

Deep breathing is a nice and simple relaxation exercise technique that’s backed by science. (It’s sometimes referred to as diaphragmatic breathing.) Deep breathing enables more air to flow into your body and has some great benefits as a result.

One study highlights how the “deep breathing technique is capable to induce an effective improvement in mood and stress”. It has also been proven to lower blood pressure and relieve pain, along with many other benefits for everyday life. It really is the perfect relaxation tool to use before bed and at any time of the day you may need it. Oh and it’s free! Win-win.

How to do deep breathing for sleep

There are many different ways to do deep breathing exercises, but for this example we’ll focus on an effective and uncomplicated breathing style, the breathing triangle.

The breathing triangle involves deep breaths for relaxation and relief of tension. It works by slowing your breathing rate so you can feel relaxed and ready to sleep more easily.

Follow the 3 steps below:

  1. Breathe in for 3 slow seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for 3 slow seconds.
  3. Breathe out for 3 slow seconds.

Try this 10 times or until you feel relaxed. And remember to breathe into your belly deeply.

Do this breathing exercise at any time of the day, even when you’re on a team call or sitting on a bus. It’ll help calm anxious thoughts and focus a busy mind.

Listen to the audio called ‘Breathe’ on the MyKokoon app. It will help you bring your attention back to your breathing and distract you from any busy thoughts.

4. Progressive muscle relaxation

Sounds a bit intense, right? Luckily it’s not. Progressive muscle relaxation (or PMR) is a successful tool used to manage stress, encourage relaxation and deeper sleep.

The aim of PMR is to squeeze and clench a group of muscles as you breathe in and relax them and release any trapped tension as you breathe out. It’s great for when you’re lying in bed at night and also first thing in the morning.

How to do progressive muscle relaxation for sleep

  1. Clench each muscle group in the body, starting with your forehead and face, down past your shoulders, your back and finishing with your thighs, lower legs and feet.
  2. Remember to breathe in as you clench (not too hard) and breathe out as you let go.
  3. Do a scan of your body before and after and see if you can feel the difference.

Tune into our Progressive Muscle Relaxation audio on our Spotify to get started.

5. Brain wave music

Listening to audio to help you unwind and sleep can be really rewarding, especially if you struggle to drift off, plus it’s a natural way to hit the hay, with very little effort on your part.

Brain.fm describes how “the brain is constantly and intently listening to the sleeping environment, monitoring for the sounds of approaching predators even during the deepest stage of sleep. This makes audio a particularly powerful medium through which we can affect the sleeping brain.” And music is the perfect antidote to external disturbances whilst you sleep.

How to use music for sleep

The MyKokoon app has an array of music to choose from. Whether you’re looking for sounds for sleep, or want to feel like you’re drifting away or heading on a dreamer's voyage, MyKokoon has the right music for sleep that you need.

Download MyKokoon today to tune in and benefit.

6. Hypnosis

Although not for everyone, hypnosis can be a super way to relax and unwind, especially before going to bed. Hypnosis can be used for pain control, behavioural changes and relaxation as well as many other things. The Mayo Clinic describes how “hypnosis is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration. Hypnosis is usually done with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images. When you're under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and are more open to suggestions”.

How to do hypnosis for sleep

Check out Paul Mckenna’s Hypnosis For Sleep over on YouTube. Just lie on your back in a dark room, pop in your Nightbuds and listen to Paul work his magic. Or discover MyKokoon’s Hypnosis For Self Doubt audio. You’ll experience 30 minutes of blissful and boosting hypnosis.

How to listen to the MyKokoon app

  1. Head to your app store.
  2. Download MyKokoon and follow the instructions.
  3. Browse our relaxation and sleep audio.
  4. Find Hypnosis For Self Doubt and listen in.

Download MyKokoon on the App Store

Download MyKokoon on the Play Store

7. Visualisation

Visualisation for sleep can be a powerful way to help you unwind and fall asleep feeling less stressed and anxious. The University of Nevado describes how “instead of focusing on your anxious, fearful images, visualisation expands your ability to focus on calming and restful images”.

How to do visualisation for sleep

University of Nevado also explain how to do visualisation for sleep in just three simple steps:

  1. Imagine a place where you feel or have felt deeply relaxed and peaceful.
  2. Close your eyes and imagine being in that peaceful place. Imagine the sounds, smells and the feel of your environment.
  3. Think about this place for 5 to 10 minutes whilst you’re in bed and feel your body and mind relax and unwind.

Check out Kokoon’s Storyscapes over on Spotify, where you can listen to the sounds of Wimbledon to help you visualise as you drift off to sleep.

Tips for trying relaxation exercises for sleep

1. Create pre-bedtime ambience

Getting the vibe right before bed can be crucial to feeling relaxed and ready for sleep. Make sure you get your bedroom and rest-of-house ambience mellow and calm before you begin any of the relaxation techniques and exercises mentioned in this article. First, start with the lighting and then turn down the noise levels.

2. Find the app our sounds that work for you

If you want to experience the ultimate relaxation technique for sleep, then this is it. Kokoon’s sleep experience combines adaptive audio and award-winning Nightbuds headphones for relaxation and sleep.

Use Nightbuds and the MyKokoon app to listen to meditations, visualisations, storyscapes and more relaxing audio. Mask any external disturbances whilst you relax with the Nightbuds noise-masking technology. And monitor which relaxation technique works best for you with Kokoon’s sleep-monitoring technology.

Pick up your pair of Nightbuds and listen in now.

3. Make time at least 3 times per week to start with

It takes time and effort to do these relaxation techniques for sleep. So aim to do them just 3 times a week at first, so you can start feeling the benefits.

4. Try all the techniques to find what works best for you

Make your way through our techniques until you find the one that works best for you. Remember, what works for someone else might not work for you, so give yourself time and be patient when it comes to finding the relaxation technique for you.

5. Eliminate noise and distractions

Many of the relaxation techniques are best done without any external distractions and noises. Nightbuds are the perfect solution as they provide you with a noise-masking experience as well as many other benefits already mentioned in this article. Head over to our website to find out more and get yourself a pair.

Getting started with sleep relaxation

Getting started with sleep relaxation

Life can be stressful and it can throw many unexpected curve balls at any time, so having an arsenal of tools to help you relax and sleep can only be a good thing.

Start with a pair of Nightbuds and integrate these relaxation techniques for sleep to reap the benefits.


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