Used to counting sheep before falling asleep? Here’s the new trick to join the arms of Morpheus: mental walking.
Imagine the scene: you slip under the sheets with the aim of having a good night’s sleep. But nothing works, it is absent. In bed, you still turn and turn, the annoyance is pointing its nose. No, this night will not be restful. The next day at work, your colleagues are unanimous: you have a tired face. To avoid this kind of scenario, it is possible to put some tricks in place. Among them? Mental walking. If this technique is still unknown to the general public, it would be dreadfully effective according to Matthew Walker, sleep expert. « Think of a walk you know very well, » he explains in an episode of the « Zoe Science and Nutrition » podcast. « Maybe it’s a walk in the woods, a hike or a walk on the beach, but try to really visualize it. Focus to the point of thinking ‘it’s me leaving my front door, I’m going down the stairs, I’m leaving … ‘ ». In short, we imagine ourselves taking a path we know well and that relaxes us. According to the professional, the more we visualize the details in our mental walk, the more effective it is. « If you do it right, the next thing you’ll remember is that your alarm went off the next morning. »
Why is mental walking effective for sleeping?
So how can we explain that mental walking is so effective for falling asleep? According to Joanna Shurety, a well-being coach, in the British version of « Stylist, » this is justified by the fact that mental walking is very similar to mindfulness and meditation. « Bringing our brain to a place of safety, calm, and relaxation is an incredibly powerful tool for calming down and bringing our body into a state where it can give in to sleep, » she adds.
Mental walking actually gives us all the mental benefits of a walk in nature without having to leave the comfort of our bed. In fact, the part of our brain that regulates hormone secretion (including that of well-being) does not differentiate between reality and our imagination. Practical, isn’t it?
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How to do a mental walk?
To succeed in a mental walk, it is necessary to put in place some steps. First, we choose a walk that we particularly like: this can be a path that we take every day, or a paradise trail that we have taken once on vacation. Before starting, we take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly and thus relax as much as possible. Once we start our mental walk, it is important to visualize the details: the smells, the sounds, the sensations that the place provides, what we would feel if we touched something in the landscape.
If we have trouble immersing ourselves in the atmosphere, we don’t hesitate to use aids like hypnotherapy audio, pink noise or even nature sounds. Finally, and this may be the most important detail, it is imperative to take the same walk every night. « Following the same route helps your brain enter a relaxation mode. If there is one thing that we all love as humans to help us truly relax, it is familiarity, » assures the well-being coach.
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