Falling asleep isn't something you do -- it's about not doing. If you're exerting effort in an attempt to fall asleep, chances are you're not letting go of your troubles, worries and worldly distractions.

That's where mindfulness comes in. A mindfulness practice can improve sleep by focusing attention on the mind and body, rather than daily stressors. Ready to drift effortlessly to sleep? Add some -- or all -- of these sleep-targeted mindfulness techniques to your repertoire:

  1. Stick to regular sleep and wake-up times: Rising early one day and very late the next confuses your body clock and may cause difficulties in sleeping.
  2. Power down several minutes before bedtime: Working on the computer or watching TV overstimulates the brain, which makes sleeping difficult.
  3. Do some formal mindfulness practice: Sitting meditation and body scan are both effective aids to sleep.
  4. Do some yoga or gentle stretching: Cats naturally stretch before curling up on the sofa for a snooze. This may help you to relax and unwind your muscles before bedtime.
  5. Do some mindful indoor walking: Take five or 10 minutes to walk a few steps, focusing on bodily sensations as you do so.
  6. Focus on your breath: Once you're in bed, pay attention to each in-breath and out-breath, counting out-breaths from one to 10 as you do so. If your mind wanders, start again at one.
  7. Accept your worries: Challenging or fighting thoughts just makes them more powerful. Note them, then gently come back to the feeling of the breath.

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