We've long been advocates of using breathing techniques to change your state of mind before bed and help you calm yourself to sleep.  But, ironically, breathing properly takes a bit of practice

We love this description of a basic deep breathing exercise that we found on nosleeplessnights.com and so wanted to share it with you here.  Try this now and then make it part of your nightly routine when you get in to bed to help you drift off...

1.Take a minute or two to try and relax and release tension from your muscles.

2. Close your eyes, and focus your attention on your breathing

3. Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. See if they both rise when you breathe in, or just one of them rises. You do not need to try to do anything in particular at this time; just see which hand is rising and pay attention to it. This will tell you if you naturally breathe with your abdomen, chest or both

4. Breathe in slowly through your nose for the count of 4 seconds if you can. Try to breathe in such a way that the hand on your stomach rises, and the hand on your chest only rises a little. This is called abdominal breathing, and what you should ideally try to do. You may find it tricky at first, but stick with it if you can

5. Once you breathe in, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then breathe out for 4. If 4 seconds is too much or too little, then you can adjust the time to suit you. Continue with this cycle. Counting 4 – 4 – 4 in your head as your breathe in and out.

6. Once you have learned how to breathe with your belly, you can remove your hands and place them down by your sides, and continue breathing slowly and deeply.

Deep breathing is one of the most effective relaxation techniques for sleep for several reasons:

It relaxes your muscles, it can help slow your heart rate, it can help slow your rate of breathing, It centres you in the moment instead of thinking about past or future problems. By focusing your attention on your breathing you will reduce the quantity of thoughts on your mind