Many of us have gotten used to the idea of having sleepless nights. The quality of our sleep is often a reflection of how our mind is doing. In times of high levels of stress, our minds turn to worry and over thinking, taking away the peacefulness and restfulness needed to fall and to stay asleep. But it is also during those stressful moments that our mind and body need the most amount of rest, care and sleep! So, how can we induce our bodies to proper sleep even under those stressful circumstances?
Before discussing the best 10 suggestions to improve sleep, we would like to highlight the following two tips which will prepare you for the following 10;
Tip # 1: Recognize the stress in your life at this current moment.
The first step is simply to recognize that your lack of sleep may be due to stress. Then observe the different areas of your life and see if you can identify what aspect of your life is brining the most stress to you right now. Knowing where stress comes from, does not change the situation but allows you to have awareness and understanding of your body's reaction to the situation at hand. This realization helps more than you think, given that it should come with kindness and understanding towards your current condition.
Tip # 2: Take a Pause.
Step number two, is helping the mind and the body get the rest that they need. Being under pressure and high levels of stress for a long period of time, can make that state of mind and adrenaline rush feel normal, and we often think that all we need is to keep adding activities to our day to distract us from the worries and to keep moving forward. But in reality, what your body really need is for you to take a PAUSE! So, as often as you can, take little breaks throughout your day to breath consciously and to reconnect with your inner self. This is not only grounding but also, helpful to check-in with your emotions, physical body and your mind. Many times, from taking these pauses, we become aware of our needs (like being hungry, thirsty, in need to move, etc...).
How can you help induce your body into a state of complete relaxation? Here are our best 10 suggestions!
1. Avoid coffee (or caffeinated teas) and alcohol for some time. We are often using these drinks to help us cope with the busy mind, not knowing that in fact both have everything but a calming effect on the body and the mind. Coffee while it is absolutely delicious, is also what keeps our mind alert and unable to fall asleep by accelerating our heart rate. And alcohol is a depressant that may numb emotions for some time and it may even put your to sleep but, your body spends an incredibly amount of energy detoxifying from it, making your sleep not be restful and making you feel the next morning heavier and lower. So, we suggest you drop them both for a while.
2. Lose the fear of not sleeping; This fear is surprisingly what ends up causing a lot of the disrupted sleep. Fears in the unconscious mind are interpreted as orders!!!! So when we fear not sleeping, the unconscious mind thinks that what you in fact want is, to not sleep. Once you can accept that it is late at night, that should be sleeping but that you are not, you will stop fighting insomnia, and like the end of any fight....calmness will arrive and before you know it, you will be peacefully asleep.
3. Before leaving work, create a small “to do” list of the major things you need to take care of the next day. (A part of your mind will rest knowing it won’t need to remember it) but make sure to leave the list at work. We hear from many of you that what stresses you the most is your job, so this tip will come handy if you feel you often bring work home. And believe it or not, this will have an impact on the quality of your sleep.
4. Take a lunch hour no matter what! The exhaustion begins way before is bed time! Putting boundaries at work is a key element to lower stressful thinking that is taking over your mind. Taking lunch hours where you truly disconnect form work (going for a walk, shutting down the cellphone and email, etc…)is extremely important to give the mind a break.
5. Leave work, when you leave work. When you actually decide to leave your work space to go home, make a mental intention to leave everything work related in that space. And as soon as you arrive home, physically change your clothes to symbolized that you are now home and work stayed behind. Do your best to not bring home work stuff- most time the laptop follows you home but never makes it out of the bag but just the sight of the bag can bring stress to your mind- so leave it all together where it belongs...at work.
6. Clean up your bed routine. Take a moment to write down what your bed routine looks like. Once you see it on paper, notice what parts of your routine could use some "cleaning" or, modification. Perhaps you are reading this and thinking "bed routine, what's that?" which would also be a good indicator that you are in need of one. Here is the bed routine we suggest;
- Set a bed time and as much as possible stick to it.
- Do not drink or eat one hour before your bedtime (avoiding digestion while you sleep)
- Leave your cellphone, iPad, laptop and t.v. off before you make it into the bedroom. (these are distractions that stimulate the mind.)
- Make sure there is no light in your room or sounds that can keep you from sleeping.
7. Waterfall, a yoga pose. Yoga has been known to be a helpful in releasing tension from the mind and body, resetting your body's natural energy. This pose if incredible helpful in lowering your heart rate and for that reason, we recommend it as a tool for sleeping aid. Before going to bed, find a wall in your bedroom and while laying on the ground, near the wall, bring both legs to the wall and rest them there. You head and back are resting on the ground, allowing you to feel fully supported. Cover your eyes with an eye pillow and rest in here for 15 minutes. Then transition to bed.
8. Recapitulation. As taught by Deepak Chopra, is the act of reviewing your day from start to finish each evening just before falling asleep. This guided visualization can help you relax and even develop witnessing awareness.
To do this, sit upright in your bed just before turning out the lights. Close your eyes and go back to the moment you woke earlier that morning. Review everything that you experienced from the time you woke up all the way to the present moment. Try to stay in a place of just observing your day rather than judging or evaluating your experiences. The recapitulation process should only take a minute or two. Don’t stop along the way and “hang out” in anything that happened along the way. (Tip taken from Deepak Chopra's website)
9. Repeat the following mantra: Om Agasthi Shahina (Ōm Ah-gah´-stee Shah-ee´-nah)
This mantra-based sleep meditation can be highly effective for those who have overactive minds and have difficulty falling asleep.
Repeat the mantra Om Agasthi Shahina— pronounced Ōm Ah-gah´-stee Shah-ee´-nah—silently to yourself. There is no need to synchronize the mantra with your breath; just breathe normally. If your mind drifts away to thoughts, bring your attention back to the repetition of the mantra. At some point, you’ll likely doze off into a restful slumber. ( Also taken from Deepak Chopra's website.)
10. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, MY FAVOURITE!!!!!! M.E.D.I.T.A.T.E Any time you find yourself lost in thinking, come back to the breath with the intention to focus on what is happening now. The body scan meditation is of great help here! If you have never learned to meditate, find guided meditations to listen to and do them 20-30 min before bed time. This will ease your mind and relax the body. The meditation can be as short as 5min or, as long as 60 min, the duration makes no difference here so long as you get in the habit of doing it every night before bed time.
Hope you find this helpful. Stay tune for my next blog on products, apps and food that I recommend to help with your sleep.
From my heart to yours, thanks for reading and have sweet dreams.