Sleep is a foundation of wellbeing. If you get a good night’s sleep, almost everything looks better the next day. And yet a lot of us are not getting either our deep replenishing levels of sleep, or we’re sleeping fitfully, having difficulty in falling asleep or in staying asleep.
It generally takes around 5 hours to go into our deepest level of sleep, and this is where most healing and repair work takes place in your body. It’s also when children do most of their growing.
But when we’re stressed, in pain or restless in some way, we may never arrive at that deep sleep level, or if we do, we don’t stay there long enough to really experience the benefits.
We need to learn how to consciously let go through relaxation techniques practiced both during the day – when you’re not aiming to fall asleep – and when you’re ready to fall asleep. After 5 minutes of deep relaxation, our brainwaves are in the same brainwave pattern as in deep sleep. If you fall asleep by the end, or during that relaxation, you go straight into your deep sleep level, which would otherwise take you several hours to arrive at.
There are other important issues too:
- Conducive environment for sleeping
You need an environment that’s conducive to you sleeping. You might need to create a sacred space for yourself where you can just ‘be’ on a daily basis to internally declutter yourself.
Maybe a table or a corner of your room where you like to meditate or keep treasures from your walks, or some inspirational reading or fresh flowers or a candle or poetry. Sit in that quiet place and let things come to rest before you go to bed.
Make sure your sleeping space is orderly, clean and uncluttered.
- Reflect on the day and note down any unfinished business
You may want to reflect and jot down any ‘unfinished business,’ from the day. It may involve tasks or conversations that need to be revisited. It’s special ‘reviewing time’. It provides an opportunity to consciously reflect rather than worrying about it after you’ve climbed into bed. Writing things down means you won’t think about it once you’re in bed.
That’s using your mind.
- Create a ritual around the last hour before you go to bed
Build a ritual of practices so that your brain recognises that these are the practices you utilise before sleep. You’ll need to utilise all these practices, not just one of them.
Maybe in that ritual you have a warm bath or shower and you consciously soak off or wash off the day and let all the busyness go down the drain when you finish.
Some people enjoy using aromatherapy, diffusing an oil or using a candle or fragrance so that you gradually develop an association with that particular perfume and going to sleep.
OTHER PRACTICAL IDEAS TO SUPPORT BETTER SLEEP
- Avoid eating sugar as it activates your whole system.
- Finish eating your last meal at least 1.5 hours before you go to sleep so that your body has finished with digestion before you go to bed. When you lie down, your body then focuses on going to sleep not on digesting your food. Not eating for 3 hours before bed is even better.
- Exercise in the earlier part of the day. If you exercise in the evening, chances are you’ll get your whole system wired up for activity rather than wind down for rest.
- Limit screen time in the hour before bed. Bright light switches off the production of melatonin in the brain. It’s a good idea to use the night time screen on your device so the light isn’t as bright.
- Use a relaxation practice or a sleep practice such as Tranquil Night meditation (CD), which no one has ever heard the end of! The practice focuses on the body, teaching you to relax every part of your body.
- Sleep in natural fibres – cotton, wool or silk – allowing natural fibres to help your body breathe – this is both your bedding and your sleep wear.
- Commitment to yourself that you won’t think things over in the middle of the night. It’s always at 3am that your thoughts get blown out of proportion. Give yourself 15 minutes and then get up, have a cup of tea, read something inane and go back to bed.
- Sleep cycles come in a wave every 20 minutes or so. As soon as you feel the wave coming, catch it.
- Use ear plugs if you live in a noisy area or if noise is an issue. Or incorporate that noise into the background of ‘what is happening’ rather than resisting it or getting grumpy and frustrated.
- Staying asleep. If you fall asleep easily but then wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed in the middle of the night, you need to put on a sleep practice again, before you start doing anything, so that your brain doesn’t wake up and start getting busy.
All our programs at Quest for Life show you ways to wellbeing and living your best life. Sleep is a topic covered on every program. Learn more about our 5-day Residential programs and 1-day workshops here.