How have you been sleeping?
Nobody needs to be reminded how valuable a great night’s sleep is, however insomnia can so often go ignored and underrated as the key cause of much of our physical and mental health issues. In fact it’s gotta be Step 1 for a great day right?!
It’s not just that it feels so amazing after a peaceful night’s sleep, any ongoing lack of restful sleep impacts our health on many levels including our digestion, hormonal balances, cognitive function and can literally be the difference between an awesome day and a poorly one (or many). The stress that insomnia can place on our relationships, our productivity, our emotional, mental and physical health is nothing short of life changing.
It’s not always possible to remove the stress from our life that’s causing the lack of sleep, but it is possible to do some simple things mentioned below to manage our stress and gift ourselves with the most valuable daily function (requirement) we all deserve!
I would say generally I am a fantastic sleeper, my husband, besties and travelling buddies with no doubt disgruntedly vouch for this……however I believe this means I make the worst lack-of-sleep-day-after-survivor. I am pathetic without a good night’s sleep. Now with all this disruption and uncertainty of Covid19 I have at times joined the ranks of bad sleepers.
Below I share with you my tips for improving sleep, plus online practices which help induce a deep restorative sleep. Try just ONE to start with then you know what's working for you;
Start an evening ritual - winding down at least 2hrs before bed; no food, tone down the lights, no bluelight ~ phones, computer, tv.
Have a shower wash the day off down the drain, even better a bath use calming oils (rose, jasmine, lavender).
Hydrate with water, then tuck in with a chamomile tea OR a warm milk/mylk with nutmeg or Ayurveda's sleep and hormone balancing herb Ashwagandha (my fave Lunar Latte). Avoid caffeine after midday.
According to the Ayurvedic clock, between 6 to 10pm is the best time to start winding down and the best time to sleep is between 10pm and 6am. 10pm is when our body secretes melatonin, however only when we are in a regular routine such as mentioned here, also effected by diet as mentioned below.
Bedside journal - mind dump into your journal your thoughts, worries, concerns, fears, to-do lists, crazy ideas and plans. Always finish off with what you are most grateful for today. Hand it all over as you close the journal. If you wake up in the night thinking, dump again, close the journal knowing it's all there safe for you to let it go and sleep - use your breathwork practice below to fall back to sleep.
Bedtime Yoga - maybe it’s as simple as laying with Legs up the Wall (in pic below), or right before bed try these online practices in your Monthly Membership;
MindBodyFully Present Meditation is a full body self-massage and incredibly relaxing if you have physical tension in the body and WILL GUARANTEE you a good night's sleep!
Yin - Whole Body Release & Nidra a lot of 'letting go'
Rest’n Restore Body + Mind with mind focus and breathwork
Breath work practice - I love the simple inhale for the count of 3, exhale for the count of 6 (or let me guide you in Meditation on the Breath) to glide into slumber. You may find Nadi Shodhana - alternate nostril breathing has a calming effect on the mind and nervous system and can help reduce monkey mind before sleeping. Let a guided meditation take you into your restful sleep with End of the Day Meditation or Sweet Savasana Yoga Nidra. Again, MindBodyFully Present Meditation is incredibly relaxing if you have physical tension in the body. Practice discerning your thoughts. thereby controlling your stress levels with The Space Between Thought Meditation.
Know your diet - having excess sugars, spicy foods, garlic, onion, caffeine, alchohol, or any foods we have even a slight intolerance to will impact sleep. Our gut health plays a major role in sleep. If you need support with your diet my Naturopath Karen Ansell is amazing and does online consults! This would also be useful during menopause to maintain hormonal balance to improve sleep. A Naturopath may also prescribe high quality melatonin, magnesium and other appropriate herbs suitable to your needs.
Create a safe and peaceful space - one of the most common reasons for insomnia is fear, another is disorganisation. Spend some time ensuring your space is comforting and secure. Tidy up, put away excess/distractive items and work, use calming colours and patterns. Use ear plugs if you have a noisy household, neighbours or possums (often mistaken as large humans on your roof trying to get in). Speak up if there’s a snorer this is a health concern they need to tend to!
Enjoy your weekend Yogis and may it be with the sweetest of dreams!
Namaste, Nic Whiteman