The value in restful sleep
Most of us do not get restful sleep these days. Why does this happen? Gosh let me think. Here’s a brief list of some of the many, many possibilities.
- We’re too stressed
- We’ve wired from hours spent on our electronics
- We carry our work into the bedroom on our laptops, tablets and phones
- We eat too much stimulating sugary foods and foods that turn into sugar in the body
- We’re allowing too much light in the bedroom from electronics or city lights
You get the idea? We’ve got a lot going against restful sleep. And this list is just the tip of the iceberg.
We expect ourselves to automatically power down once it is time for sleep. And that probably worked for our ancestors who didn’t have artificial light, electronics, or the option of a bowl of ice cream before bed. But we’ve got to manually turn off.
A Manual Shutdown
When we manually turn off for the day, we need to shake off all the things that we’ve piled on during the day. These are all the things that can stimulate our brains (whether consciously or unconsciously) and make it difficult for our bodies to move into sleep mode. And we can’t just expect this to happen because we crawl into bed exhausted.. We need to consciously do this to help achieve the best quality sleep.
And please note: manually shutting down isn’t just for those who suffer insomnia. There are many people who sleep 8 hours and wake not feeling completely rested. Most people need help achieving truly regenerative sleep.
10-minute Practice for Restful Sleep
1. Drink a small cup of bedtime hot tea
Make a small (6 ounce tops) cup of tea. Some helpful, sleep promoting herbs are chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, peppermint, rose blossoms, orange blossoms, cinnamon, skulcap and valerian) If drinking before bed makes you “go” in the middle of the night, you might want to try a small snack of a slice of turkey or a small amount of plain yogurt for sleep promoting tryptophan instead.
2. Viparita Kirani (leg-up-the-wall pose)
Here’s a great yoga pose to help re-balance and get ready for sleep. Fold a blanket to the length of your spine. Lie on the back on the blanket and scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as possible. Then lift your legs straight up the wall while still lying on your back and focus on the breath. Stay here for 2 to 3 minutes. If this causes discomfort in any way, adjust it to a place where it is comfortable.
3. Spray your pillow with essential oils.
You can make an easy aromatherapy spray that promotes sleep using essential oils. Take a small glass bottle and add 15 to 20 drops of both chamomile and lavender to distilled water. Shake and then spray over your pillow.(Make sure to shake each time before spraying) The scent should help quiet your brain for restful sleep.
4, Put aside your worries.
Start by focusing on whatever might be holding your attention. It might be something that excites you, something that stresses you, something you know you need to do in the morning or whatever else is on your mind. Once you have a good picture, write down your thoughts on paper Then fold the paper and put it away, either in a little box, in a drawer or anywhere else you can keep something safe. You can pick the note back up again in the morning. For now, your worries are being kept safe while you sleep.
5. Turn off all the lights.
You probably know to turn off your bedroom light when going to sleep. But what about the other light to your room? If you have an electronic clock that emits light, turn it away from your bed. Try to block any other lights from electronics (laptops, cable boxes, wifi, etc.) that might shine throughout the night. Close the curtains to block city light. And if it’s impossible to block all light out of your room, consider getting a face mask.
If you are planning to read before bed, purchase a book light or turn your electronic reader to the dimmest setting.
With your worries put aside, close your eyes and take 10 deep cleansing breaths. Breathe slowly into the diaphram and then slowly exhale.
Now you’re ready for bed!
This whole routine should take only about 10 minutes. And the result? You’ve just manual turned off your brain and your body and readied it for restful sleep.
Deep, relaxing sleep isn’t just for babies. You can achieve it too. But you just need to give your sleep some focus and 10 minutes of your time. Gone are the days when most of us can just flop into bed and wake refreshed on a regular basis. Most of us need a little assistance in getting the best, most restful sleep.
So take 10 minutes to help your mind and body prepare. You’ll thank yourself in the morning!