It’s a busy world we live in today. Thanks to advancements in technology, we seem to be always connected. Add that to the stress of dealing with a demanding job, worrying about our children or aging parents, or concern over a health condition either for ourselves and a loved one, and there’s no surprise that some of us have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some tool that could relax our minds and let go of our stress and worries to fall into a peaceful deep sleep? Well there is, and it’s called guided imagery.
What is Guided Imagery for Sleep?
Have you ever “counted sheep” to help you to fall asleep? If so, you were practicing guided imagery without even knowing it. In a nutshell, guided imagery is a relaxation technique where one’s thoughts are purposely redirected through imagination and visualization to achieve a desired goal. While this goal is commonly to help with falling asleep, it’s also used to help adults cope with a serious health condition, such as cancer, manage stress, depression, pain, and anxiety. It’s also a helpful technique for children, particularly in helping to chase away their fears.
Benefits of Guided Imagery for Sleep
Using guided imagery for sleep disturbances can help both adults and children alike find a soothing, relaxing, and comforting way to drift off to sleep. As a directed form of visualization, guided imagery is based on the thought that the body and mind are connected. By tapping into one’s own imagination, guided imagery can relax oneself into a soothing slumber.
But guided imagery isn’t just for insomniacs. Guided imagery can also help support the healing process, whether that’s mourning the loss of a loved one or recovering from a surgery. Advocates of guided imagery believe that it helps to lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, reduce stress, and manage pain. Because the technique has been known to reduce anxiety and pain, patients often use it to increase relaxation prior to surgery or while receiving chemotherapy treatments.
How Does Guided Imagery Work?
Fortunately for us, our subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between thoughts that are imagined and those that are real. In other words, our subconscious mind obediently responds to what it is told. Therefore, through the use of inspiring words, soothing music, or relaxing images, we are able to create a tranquil frame of mind to deal with our challenges, whether it’s a busy day, stressful event, sleep disorder, or concern over a health issue.
Tools to Help with Guided Imagery
The web is chock full of tools to help you with guided imagery for sleep. Here are just a few:
Kaiser Permanente Healthful Sleep
Tips for Better Application of Guided Imagery
To try guided imagery at home for falling asleep, get cozy in a comfortable bed, and visualize a calm scene, such as strolling on a sunny beach with ocean breezes caressing your face, laying in a field full of beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers, or simply swinging in a hammock in your backyard. It really doesn’t matter what the scene is; the key is that it has to be something that you believe is comforting and safe. You may need to practice the technique for a few nights before you master the skill. But with a little stick-to-itiveness — and imagination — you’ll be headed to that serene place before you know it.
Overall, guided imagery for sleep is a natural way to eliminate the stressful triggers in life — the same ones that prevent you from falling quickly into a peaceful sleep.
We want to know. Have you ever used guided imagery to help you fall asleep — even if it was the traditional “counting sheep”?
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