There are many different types of “sleep aids” available to help people sleep once they get to bed. But sometimes people don’t know that they can improve the restfulness of their sleep by better preparing for sleep. Much like a home cooked meal tastes better and is more nutritous than a frozen entree, properly getting ready for bed can lead to a much better nights sleep than trying to switch from “day mode” to “sleep mode” in a couple of minutes.

Benjamin Moss, the Sleep Well Guru advises his clients to prepare for a sleep starting at least an hour before going to bed. He tells his clients that there are three different “sleep bodies” that must be prepared for a good nights rest. They are the outside sleep body, the physical sleep body, and the mental sleep body.

The “outside sleep body” is your sleeping environment including what you wear and where you sleep. Preparing your outside sleep body means getting your outside as comfortable and prepared as possible for a good nights rest. This means making sure your bedroom is as relaxing and calm as possible. It should be dimly but comfortably lit. If possible there should be no TV in this area or at least no TV watching an hour before bed. The bed, sheets and pillows should be clean and comfortable. And you might consider a warm bath or shower before going to bed. If you sleep clothed, make sure that what you wear is clean, loose fitting and comfortable as well. This will prepare your outside sleep body for a good nights rest.

The “physical sleep body” is your flesh and blood body. Preparing the physical sleep body means getting your physical being in the best state for a restful sleep. Your digestive system is one place that can be put in a restful mode by avoiding eating or drinking (especially alcohol) in the hour before bedtime. If you have eaten a big meal or are metabolizing alcoholic beverages right before bed, even after you fall asleep, your body will still be “working” while your mind is trying to rest. Why have half your body working when the other half is resting? Your muscles can also be prepared for a good nights sleep. If you exercise regularly, doing a light workout or stretching an hour or two before bedtime can also help promote a better sleep. Alternatively some light activity such as a short walk or simply deeply breathing for a few minutes can help your physical sleep body prepare for a restful night.

Finally the “mental sleep body” must be prepared for sleep. This means focusing on restful thoughts rather than stressful or worrying thoughts. If possible avoid arguments or intense conversations with your spouse or children. Other mentally stimulating activities such as watching TV and playing video games should be curtailed in the last hour before bedtime. If you meditate or pray a good time to do this is right before bedtime to calm the mind and get into a relaxed state. A sleep-specific relaxation program such as the Sleep Well Guru program can be helpful to prepare your mental sleep body for a good nights rest. These can help reprogram your mental sleep body to be in a restful mode at bedtime.

Once you have prepared all three sleep bodies for a good night sleep it’s time to go to bed! Hopefully by following these helpful principals you can have a deeper and more restful sleep.

The body follows what the mind conceives. The condition of the mind often affects how the body performs, which explains why people who are stressed often suffer from accelerated aging and health problems. Follow these top 10 ways to relax and give your mind and body a good break.

1. Learn to breathe.

Breathing comes unconsciously, which sometimes encourages us to take it for granted. Several times a day, when you feel stress coming on or you feel tired and unenthusiastic, do a few deep breathing exercises. Here’s how:

Sit or stand with your spine straight and stretched slightly. Then slowly take a breath at a slow count of 3 and exhale just as slowly. Allow your lungs to expand as you take in the air and empty it as you breathe out. If it helps to close your eyes, then do so. Fresh oxygen helps enliven your blood and the slow breathing encourages you to sit or stand still for a moment.

2. Stretch.

Another way to relax is slow stretching. Whether you’re standing or seated, always keep your spine straight and allow both of your arms to dangle loosely at your side. Feet should be flat on the floor and relaxed.

Slowly raise your arms high, as if you’re reaching for the ceiling and slowly raise yourself on the ball of your feet. Follow the movement of your hands with your eyes so that your head can tilt back. Hold this position for a count of 10 and then slowly bring down your arms.

3. Increase your physical activities.

Or at least get yourself one if you haven’t got any up until now. Contrary to what other people think, exercising actually helps you relax afterwards. It cleanses your body of toxins by inducing sweat, increases your blood flow and the flow of oxygen to the brain and it works up your muscles.

Start slowly and gradually build up until you are able to maintain a regular schedule.

4. Watch your diet.

What you eat affects your mood. Another great way to relax is to maintain a diet that is rich in nutrients, such as antioxidants, folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Eat more fruits and vegetables and when you’re thirsty, grab a bottle of water and keep away from sodas and flavored drinks.

5. Get enough sound sleep.

Sleep is about quality and not just quantity but in times of stress, it’s best to get as much sleep as you can. About 6 to 8 hours should get you the rest you need.

Getting enough sleep is an excellent way to relax. It allows your body to regroup and recover and it eases your mind of other concerns.

6. Use music.

If music works for you, use it. Stick to soft tunes and don’t whip out that Metallica CD just yet. Rock music tends to use heavy bass lines, hard percussions and strong lyrics. If you want to relax, turn to soft and easy listening and save those faster tunes for some other time.

7. Turn away from the modern trappings of your life.

Often, the most relaxing things are also the ones that are the most basic. Once a week or at least more, turn off the TV, unplug it and keep the remote out of easy reach. Turn off the computer as well.

These two are common sources of distractions. Due to the rapidly changing images and the overflow of information, they can sometimes overload the mind and hinder relaxation. Keep things simple and don’t sweat the small, insignificant stuff.

8. Have time to yourself.

A good way to relax is to set aside time for some peace and quiet. What better way to do this than to schedule short vacations for yourself? You don’t have to pack your bags or even leave the house – simply close the door, find a nice, quiet place to sit and enjoy your own company.

9. Try yoga or meditation.

Yoga and meditation helps you attain a good body and mind connection. As a result, you’re more likely to feel relaxed and refreshed. Try simple yoga steps or learn to meditate a few minutes each day. Do these regularly and you’ll find that it will get easier and easier to relax and manage stress when you really need to.

10. Laugh.

Find your sense of humor again. Be with family and friends you can be yourself with. Laughter is one of the best ways to relax and it doesn’t have to cost a thing. It also helps you build connections with people in your life who really matter.

Copyright (c) 2008 Konstantin Koss