A good night’s sleep can do wonders for our health and wellbeing. During the day we are in a metabolic phase, when our cells require and burn energy. While we sleep, we go into an anabolic state, where our bodies repair and rejuvenate. After a good night’s sleep, we wake up with more energy, a clearer mind and usually a better mood.
There are a few steps we can take in order to get a deeper, more restful sleep. I have read quite a few books and articles about this, and watched quite a few documentaries. Here are some things I have learned:
- Spend as much time as possible in natural daylight during the day. Go for a little walk outside after lunch if possible, and soak up some sunshine and some fresh air.
- Avoid over-stimulating the mind in the evening with caffeine and technology. If you must be on your phone or laptop, install a blue-light filter. This filters the blue light emitted by your screen after sunset and applies a pleasant soft red filter (think of the way it looks outside when the sun is setting). The filter intensity is gradually adjusted to the sun cycle based on your location.
- Don’t overnap during the day. If you feel tired, try practicing yoga NIdra instead (I talked about this in a previous post), try meditating or do something relaxing . Afternoons are the time when physically we tend to hit an energy slump, but it is a great time to do something that rests the body but keeps the mind engaged. Things like reading a book or painting are great options.
- Have an early, light dinner. This is because a big meal, or a meal too high in sugar will spike your blood sugar and boost your metabolism which will keep you up for longer.
- Don’t perform any strenuous physical activities. Instead, a 20 minute walk outise after dinner or some gentle yoga or stretches, followed by breathing meditation will help the body and mind unwind after the day.
- Create a relaxing bed-time ritual. Maybe turn off your phone or TV an hour before bed and read a book instead. Meditate. Write in your journal. Sip on some herbal tea like chamomile, hops, lavender or peppermint.
- Have a 20-minute bath before bed. I once watched a documentary where they explained that it is the steep drop in our body temperature after a hot bath that puts us in a deeper sleep. With my two children who also love baths and only one bathtub in the house, I don’t get to have a bath as often as I would like to (every night), but when I do get the chance (once a week), I make it luxurious…candlelight, luxurious oils, soothing music, herbal tea, eye pads soaked in rose water, my favorite face mask…and finish with a really nice self-massage with body balm with rose, tuberose and vetivert or a body oil with jasmine and sandalwood and acupressure facial massage with my favorite rose face oil. So maybe it is not as often as I would like, but when I do get the time, I make sure it’s pure bliss
- Your bedroom should be aired out, cool and dark. Using aromatherapy like lavender, basil and jasmine can help you relax even more. I put a few drops of lavender or jasmine on a handkerchief and place it in my pillowcase.
- Try going to bed around the same time every evening….ideally at around 10-10:30 pm.
- When you are in bed, use a relaxation technique to help the body relax. For me, I cover my eyes with a silk eye pillow, filled with flax, peppermint and lavender. I absolutely love the gentle coolness of the silk, the weight of the pillow gently helping relax tension around my eyes and the aromatherapy of lavender and peppermint. It even helps relieve tension when I get a headache. I used to use a silk eye mask, but I personally find the heaviness of the eye pillow much more relaxing. I can feel the tension of the muscles around my eyes just melt away. I also use the Intelligent Nutrients Destress Express elixir on my pressure points. It has peppermint, spearmint, ravintsara, cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile, lime, vanilla and red raspberry, and it is a personal favorite of mine, but you can use any other aromatherapy you may prefer. Lavender and jasmine are also known for their relaxing, sleep-inducing effects. I practice some deep breathing and then a full body relaxation or body scan. I usually fall asleep before I complete it.
Here is a really delicious dinner recipe I learned to make from the Neom Guide to Sleep book for a good night’s sleep:
And here is a body scan – relaxation technique:
Begin by laying down and taking 10 slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your mind and body slow down and begin to unwind. Feel the tension start to release.
The next part is a visualization to help relax your body. As you inhale, you visualize a warm, healing bright light enveloping the part of the body you are focusing on. As you exhale, you release it. Feel that body part energized, healed and relaxed. I think of this almost like a very relaxing, healing massage with pure, white light.
Begin with moving your attention to your toes. As you inhale, visualize a warm, bright white light travelling through your toes. As you exhale, let this light energize, heal and relax your toes.
Move your attention to your ankles. As you inhale, visualize a warm, bright white light enveloping your ankles. As you exhale, feel this light energize, heal and relax your ankles.
Keep repeating this for the following body parts: middle of your calves, your knees, middle of your thighs, your sacrum, your hips, your pelvis, your navel, your heart, your lower back, your entire spine, vertebra by vertebra, your shoulders, your fingertips, your palms, your wrists, your forearms, your elbows, your upper arms, your neck, your face: your chin, jaw, lips, tongue, throat, your nostrils, your cheeks, muscles around your eyes, eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, area between the eyebrows, forehead, temples, ears, the back of your head, the crown of your head.
Once the whole body is relaxed, focus on this healing energy enveloping your entire body. Feel your whole body fully relaxed and healed. Take 10 deep, slow breaths, in silence.
If you are not sleeping already, or if you are doing this in the afternoon, you can begin to wiggle your fingers and toes, rub your palms together and gently place them over your eyes. Then, slowly sit up, still with your eyes closed. When you are ready, open your eyes.
Top image found on Google images.