What’s the best wind down routine before bed?
-Do you expect to turn off the computer, hop into bed and fall straight to sleep? If that doesn’t work for you try making your room a sanctuary and giving your brain time to wind down. We need to come ‘down into the body’ and get out of the hyper stimulated, not-ready-for bed state caused by work or your most recent Netflix binge watch.
– Start turning down the lights, switch off the computer and take up a bit of poetry, a yoga book, a Jane Austen novel or something generally soporific. Try to stay away from the news, social media, or interacting via your phone or laptop.
– If you’ve got something on your mind, whether it’s work or personal, get out a journal and write it down. Write until you’ve expressed any concerns and emotional upset. Put it down on the page, rather than keeping it clanging around in your head. Write down anything that you need to do in the morning- just the really big stuff you want to be sure not to forget- not an exhaustive kitchen-sink list as that can have the opposite effect!
– If your body is still buzzy and your head still swimming, try the sequence I’ve created – The Simple Sleep Sequence at supersleepyoga.com. It’s really simple. It pulls the tension out of the main places in the body that you need open up so that your body signals to the brain that you’re safe, able to relax and ready for sleep.
– When you sleep, keep your body warm enough in bed, with some cool air in the room. I love sleeping in linen in the summer, and repurpose old holey cashmere sweaters for night time use in the winter. My old Asquith bamboo harem pants serve as super comfy PJs after they were too well loved for the yoga room. Natural fibers feel gorgeous and let your skin breathe.
– Remember, sleep is natural, and your body will get enough to keep you ticking over. The most important thing is to keep it natural and relaxed. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to bed, taking some sacred time is the best medicine. Do what my great grandmother Henrietta used to do. She used her time for soothing pursuits, and came to relish the quiet time in the middle of the night, knowing that when she was ready to drift off again, sleep would come. She would read philosophy or do some knitting by soft light. She’d sometimes take a mug of warm milk. She knew how to live a good life and got in a good 95 years of sprightly living. Even if she didn’t sleep uninterrupted every night, she wouldn’t let it bother her. She would take time out during the day to rest (but not sleep) if she needed it.
What to avoid before bedtime?
– Before bedtime avoid heavy protein meals, and stimulating exercise. It takes about three hours to digest a big meal, and the stress hormones from exercise take a while to amp down in your system.
– As much as I hate to break it to you, alcohol may initially get you to sleep but it makes sleep quality a lot poorer. It causes dehydration and has an effect on the essential anti-anxiety neurotransmitter in the brain. It causes body temperatures to rise too high for good nights sleep and the activation-neurotransmitters will actually increase.
To sleep better, keep it natural, and make getting to bed part of a whole lifestyle practice and you will learn to really enjoy going to bed early! Low light, a bit of Super Sleep Yoga, good habits, and you’ll feel better and sleep deeper for life!
Check out Lisa’s Super Sleep Yoga course here; supersleepyoga.com