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14 Dec 2015

Improve Your Sleep


For many of us, sleep is something we're not getting enough of... quality sleep, that is. Even if we're averaging a decent 8-hour night, a lot of the time it's interrupted or 'shallow' sleep when what we really need to thrive is a solid nights rest where our bodies can heal and regenerate in preparation for the next day. This can only happen properly with a full sleep cycle including important periods of REM sleep. Ever feel groggy and lack-lustre waking up? Yes, of course... most of us do sometimes. But if this is happening often, you probably need more and better sleep.

So, how do we do it? We all live busy lives and our personal time is often limited and highly cherished... mine certainly is! So not all of us are ready to cut into that precious time with heavy exercise or swap our evening glass of wine for herbal tea and nor should we! Me-time is just that... time to spend doing whatever it is that relaxes and rejuvenates you. This is not about controlling bad habits, it's about bringing you back to you and feeling the best version of yourself possible.

set the mood
The fist thing I do to unwind at the end of my day is set the mood. I'll light a candle, burn some essential oils, and clear away any clutter that has built up throughout the day. Put outstanding work into a drawer, wash up dirty plates and cups, and set out planners and to-do lists for the morning. The mind mirrors your surroundings and so keeping things organised and prepared settles the mind and brings tranquility into the space.

wind down
Now that your surroundings are set, it's time to bring the mind the calm, too. Letting go of stress and negative thoughts is perhaps the most important way to bring better sleep into your life. Take a moment to breathe and let go of any negative feelings or thoughts from your day. If there's something that keeps coming for you or you can't get out of your mind, write it down on a piece of paper - what it is, how you feel about it, questions you still have about it - and then put that piece of paper out of sight. This will help get your feelings out of your head and placed somewhere tangible you know you can come back to another time.

yoga
Taking 10 minutes to decompress and stretch out tensions will not only relax and restore the body, but it'll calm and prepare the mind for relaxation. The great thing about yoga is that there are no expectations. There're no end goals or targets to achieve, it's about really getting to know your body; it's abilities and limitations (I bet you'll surprise yourself!), and finding dynamism in movement. It also allows you to focus your mind, directing your thoughts and energy away from the daily grind and towards the present moments and your true self. Doing this will bring calm, truth, and intension into your space and prepare your entire self for a relaxed and deep sleep. Whether you spend 10 minutes or 90 minutes practicing yoga, you'll keep the benefits instantaneously. 

bathe with salt
Emerging myself in water has always been a sort of mediation for me. The feel and sound of water totally relaxes my body and slows everything down to a calm rhythm. The body is completely suspended and almost weightless which means pressures from bones and joints are lifted, which is especially beneficial if you suffer from pains and strains associated with these areas. Adding epsom salts to your bath will ease stress and further relax the body. It also draws out impurities from the body so can help with illnesses and skin conditions. Make sure to drink lots of water before and afterwards because it can dehydrate you.

routine

Bringing a routine allows your body to recognise that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Just as your morning routine of brushing your teeth, getting dressed, having breakfast, or whatever it may be, prepares you for the day ahead, an evening routine will let your body know 'okay, I'm going to bed soon and it's time to physically, emotionally, and mentally relax and prepare for a good night sleep'. This can consist of making a cup of herbal tea, reading a chapter or two of your book, putting on a face mask, or whatever it is that relaxes you and helps you unwind.

temperature
Regulating your temperature is vital for a good sleep. Now that it's winter I like to have a hot water bottle to warm my feet and I layer my bed with lovely cozy blankets to take off or snuggle up with depending on how cold it is. If you live in a slightly warmer climate it's always nice to throw a window open through the night to keep fresh air flowing. I have filled my bedroom with all sorts of green plants from ferns and spider plants to hydrangeas and bamboo. This will keep the air fresh and clean whilst the windows are shut for the cold season.

senses
I'm a very light sleeper and live in a house with creepy wooden floorboards so keeping ear plugs on my bedside is a must. If you live with other people, near a main road, or just need absolute silence to sleep I recommend sticking in earbuds before sleeping to minimise the chances of waking up before the alarm.
Lavender is a sleep-inducing aroma so whether you opt for a pillow mist, candle, or oil burner, you'll find falling asleep a lot easier. You can also dab essential oils onto the pulse points (inner wrists, collar bone, and neck) and take a few deep breaths. This'll not only help conjure sleep, but will slow your breath and relax your body. Jasmine, sandalwood, bergamot, and chamomile are also great for fostering a restful sleep.

I hope these quick and easy tips help you generate a deep and peaceful night sleep. Let me know in the comments what your bedtime routine is and how you wind down before bed.

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