Have you ever been disturbed by your little one who then goes back off to sleep quite quickly, leaving you laying there wide awake for ages? What’s worse is when you do finally manage to nod off, they disturb you again!
I have experienced this on repeat and, one night, while I was laying there after giving my husband a kick for snoring (another thing to prevent me from falling back to sleep), I thought to myself, I teach parents how to get their little ones back to sleep but if only there were some way for us parents to get back to sleep with ease. That was when it hit me…
I figured out how this could be done and how I could teach it on to parents too. As I thought about it, I tried it and I was back to sleep in no time at all. It works!
While expecting our first child and having no idea about labour and birth, I began to research options. I was not interested in the usual NCT route of childbirth classes and wanted to find a more natural way of helping my body to do what it is designed to do. I came across Hypnobirthing which teaches you how to go with the natural progressions of labour rather then fighting them with ‘tensing up’ actions like pushing. It was so fascinating and I experienced around 20 hours of labour with a 9lb baby, using zero pain relief because of the Hypnobirthing techniques I used.
Through this training I learned how to relax every muscle in the body, release tension in the body and the mind I also learned a technique called ‘sleep breathing’. This gets you into a really relaxed state and helps you to fall asleep so I figured it could work just as well for any tired parent.
This really works so let me take you through it:
When we are disturbed in the night it can set the mind racing with thoughts and concerns that cause us tension. Such as, ‘is he going to wake up again?’ or ‘should I have done that?’ or even just frustration of being awake and wanting to go back to sleep. This tension then makes it much more difficult for us to relax and go back to sleep. So let’s have a look at how to use these techniques which are taken from ‘Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan’.
Marie Mongan explains that facial relaxation will set the tone for the rest of your body. Here is her description of how to achieve this:
‘…Let your eyelids slowly close. Don’t try to force them shut, just let them gently meet. Place your awareness on the muscles in and around your eyes. As you feel a natural drooping of the eye muscles, sense relaxation spreading from your forehead, down across your eyelids, over your cheekbones and around your jaws. Let your lower jaw recede as your teeth part. Relax your tongue. Your eyelids will feel heavier as your cheeks and your jaw go limp. Bring the relaxation within your eyes to a level where it will seem as though your eyelids just refuse to work. Place the tip of your tongue at your palate where your upper teeth and palate meet, bringing about a sense of peace and well-being as you connect with your energy body. Feel your head making a dent into the pillow. As you practice this technique, you will feel your neck, your shoulders and your elbows droop. Picture your shoulders opening outward and sinking down into the frame of your body as you go deeply into relaxation…’
Sleep breathing helps to relax the body and the mind by quietening all that inner ‘chatter’. This breathing is done with the mouth closed or partially open through facial relaxation and all breathing is through the nose.
Slowly draw in a breath from your stomach to the count of four (in-2-3-4), as you breath in, feel your stomach rise and draw the breath up into the back of your throat. Pause, and then exhale very slowly through your nose, to the count of eight (out-2-3-4-5-6-7-8). As you breath out, direct the energy of the breath down and inward, toward the back of your throat. Relax and let go, feeling yourself sink into your pillow and bed.
With practice, you will master this technique and not need to count and you will find it will take you into relaxation very quickly once you get the hang of it. I recommend trying this out during the day when you get a quiet 10 minutes. It can also be a great way to unwind and release some tension while your baby takes a nap.
For further information on Hypnobirthing, I highly recommend the book by Marie Mongan. The first 50 pages are well worth a read if you are considering using this approach to giving birth in the future.