Before sleep it helps to be relaxed. Many relaxation techniques are available on this website for free, mostly in the form of meditations (see further down the page). If the mind relaxes, the body will follow.
Don't Try To Relax
Be aware that the intention to relax, trying to feel relaxed, desperately wanting to be relaxed rather than tense, only make you feel less relaxed. Stop trying to feel relaxed, and instead fully allow the feelings of tension or negativity. Fully allow them to be there, without trying to change them. Allow yourself to not feel relaxed. Then at once you become more relaxed. Approach all other relaxation techniques from this space.
Simple Relaxation Techniques
Take Attention To Your Breath
Breathe consciously. Simply be aware of what your breath is doing, and remain aware. This may not instantly stop your thoughts and emotions, but it does instantly take you to a place of awareness, where your thoughts and emotions can be seen for what they are - just thoughts and emotions.
Do not make any thought or emotion personal, do not take it seriously, and just be the awareness behind them.
To remain as awareness, just stay aware of your breath. You do not even have to pay any attention to your mind or emotions - you can let them be as they are. Meanwhile stay with the breath. Just five minutes of this can be a very good relaxation technique, as you are taken deeper into the peacefulness of your true nature.
Write Everything Down
Anything important or that you need to remember is now on paper so you do not need to keep it in your head any longer.
Notice The Pointlessness
Notice the pointlessness of what your stress, thoughts or emotions are doing - all they do is keep you unhappy and trapped within a false sense of self. They serve no useful purpose.
From here you can laugh at their futility, and not take them so seriously.
Yoga is one of the great relaxation techniques. Even a pose or two can help you relax. Yoga poses will calm both the body and mind. They connect you to the stillness within.
You may notice at first that your mind "flares up" or resists these Yoga poses. Let it. It is fighting for survival, you do not need to engage. Simply stay with your breath and let the mind do what it wants - you are the unaffected stillness, stay as this.
Sometimes meditation seems the last thing you want to do to relax. This is the mind trying to maintain its grasp over you. It is only themind that does not want to meditate, because meditation releases you from its grip, and destroys the ego.
The most simple meditation you can do is to simply not follow your thoughts, do not touch any thought or emotion that arises. Remain as pure, neutral awareness. This will take you into inner peace.
Here are some links to relaxation meditations on this site:
From Breathing To Being - A guided meditation to take you beyond thought, to the breath, and into the natural state of being.
The Sleep Meditation - a great meditation if you have trouble sleeping.
For more see the Meditation Videos page