Life today has taken us so very far from the life we were designed to be living. This allows us fabulous opportunities in terms of things such as technological advance, but it can also put tremendous stresses and strains on our bodies. This in turn often results in sleep issues, or at least in poor quality sleep, which means our bodies are not being allowed to rejuvenate as they should through the night.
If you are someone who struggles to get to sleep (or to stay asleep) you will be aware of this, but there’s more to it than that. If you are a “fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow” type, it is still worth taking a moment to ask yourself what the quality of your sleep is like. Do you wake feeling refreshed? Do you sense ease in your movement when you first get out of bed? Do you wake with a clear head? If the answer to any of these is “no”, then you too could benefit from the ideas below, especially because:
“Sleep is the golden chain
that ties health and our bodies together”
MY TOP TIPS
Creating a bedtime routine can be incredibly powerful. We know all about doing this for our kids: why shouldn’t it work for us too? Establishing a peaceful atmosphere can help induce relaxation, and a regular and calming routine can send a powerful message to the brain that it is time to unwind and switch off from the day’s happenings.
As someone who once experienced horrendous sleep problems, I had to work hard to discover the routine that worked best for me. So here are the habits I’ve established – and I truly know how effective these can be…
1. No screens for AT LEAST 1 hour before bedtime, and then be aware of using dimmer lighting as bedtime draws near. This one is all about melatonin production & how we can utilise understanding of this to enhance our sleep. If you feel you need a little help with getting “un-stuck” from those screens, download my FREE 10 Tips to Detox from Tech.
2. Consider alternatives to television as a pre-bed activity. Although some TV can be a great switch off, it is still a form of blue light (and therefore suppresses melatonin production), and additionally it often encourages such a degree of engagement that it is sometimes over-stimulating. Reading a book, listening to a podcast or simply listening to music are all options which may be more relaxing.
3. Enjoy a relaxing warm drink. Various herbal teas are good, (my own preference would always be for chamomile tea), but for others warm milk does the trick (it contains both tryptophan and melatonin). Milk needs care though, because for some it can have the opposite effect: try it out yourself before making the decision. Whatever drink you choose, make sure that this too is a part of your calming routine: for example drink it whilst listening to something calming, and with the lights turned low…
4. Avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, but do consider doing something calming such as yoga, with its emphasis on focused breathing and relaxation. If you combine a little mindfulness or meditation, you are also training the mind to become quiet and therefore still more ready to sleep.
5. Even if you don’t want to do a full yoga workout, I thoroughly believe in the benefits of a few yoga stretches before bed. Although we may think we’ve become physically relaxed during our evening, actually a day of postural imbalance followed by a tendency to sit in one position – whether watching TV or reading a book – for most of the evening can leave muscles and joints far from relaxed. We then get into bed & lie pretty much in one position for many hours: the combination of all this can lead to waking feeling stiff and aching. Instead, try a few gentle mobilisation exercises such as some shoulder rolls, a Pilates “roll down”, or a yoga “cat stretch” to ease out sore muscles and “re-mobilise” before getting in to bed. If you do this regularly you should start to see a difference to your movement quality in the mornings.
6. Make your cleansing routine – however simple or complex it may be – a calming ritual. Think of consciously massaging the skin as you cleanse it: take in the scents of your products and focus on your breathing throughout. Once again, you are making a pleasurable and calming event out of something which otherwise is just a “chore”. I would add here that it’s worth thinking about which products you use near to bedtime. Using natural products containing essential oils can aid relaxation and sleep, whereas other commercial alternatives may do the opposite. A great example would be a moisturiser containing frankincense. This essential oil has been used since ancient times to heal, strengthen, tighten and tone skin, whilst also inducing relaxation as it slows the heart rate…
7. A quick spritz around your bed or over your pillow with an essential oil based Pillow Mist will leave a waft of lavender or whatever your chosen scent may be, and can be another fabulous way to encourage relaxation and therefore enhance sleep.
8. If you have difficulty getting to sleep, a few drops of cedarwood essential oil on the soles of your feet can work wonders for insomnia.
9. All the many benefits of essential oils can be enjoyed best by using a diffuser, which is my own absolute preferred bedtime soother. Choose your own favourite from the many scents that can aid relaxation: lavender, frankincense, cedarwood, marjoram, chamomile, vetiver… If you’d like more ideas on which oils may be best for you, do grab my FREE DOWNLOAD to learn more about the many options.
10. If in spite of all these suggestions you are still struggling to sleep, or if thoughts are still racing around in your head, try Belly Breathing whilst focusing on slowly relaxing body and mind. If you struggle to focus yourself, you may find that listening to an audio guide for relaxation techniques helps, until you gradually drift to the land of dreams…
As you can see, every one of my suggestions above offers a NATURAL solution. We can choose from so many natural remedies that go back to ancient times – and those of you who follow me surely know my theory that to enjoy and prosper from the wonderful opportunities that this modern world of “tech” offers us, we have to find a balance between the ancient and the modern worlds. I truly believe that a return to those ancient and proven methods that originated when we lived life in the way it was intended can be a great (& necessary) antidote to modern life and its stresses – and to its sleep problems.