Nightly sleep and rest is the healing phase in your daily life.
Poor sleep can adversely effect your health and understandably, recent events have created an increase in sleep issues.
Ideally we need to sleep for between 7 and 9 hours each night without waking. Uninterrupted sleep is important in order for us to complete normal sleep cycles, including rapid eye movement sleep and deep sleep.
The experience of dreaming, whether or not we remember our dreams can have a very positive effect on our wellbeing, allowing us to process and come to terms with all that is going on in our lives. Sometimes it is difficult to identify what prompted a certain dream sequence and if we are continuously “fighting tigers” throughout the night, we may need to address other life factors in our wakened state. We may not remember our dreams and as long as we are not waking up in a distressed state, this is fine.
If you are waking in the night in order to visit the loo (nocturia), refrain from drinking anything for at least 2 hours before bedtime. Evening drinks should not be stimulating ( those that contain caffein) but also not diuretic including alcohol. Some food items can be bladder irritants such as, chocolate (oh no !), spicy foods, acidic foods and artificial sweeteners. Pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen pelvic muscles and improve bladder control.
If you like herbal teas in the evening, there are some great combinations available to aid relaxation and sleep. Avoid green tea in the evening and peppermint is good as an after dinner digestive but not too close to bedtime.
Recommended : oatflower; lavender; limeflower; camomile; passiflora; valarian; lemongrass.
Some people swear by having a warm milky drink before bed and it does not have to be dairy milk.
During the daytime get as much natural sunlight as you can. In Europe, daylight is often with us until very late in the evening. This can upset our natural body clock or circadian rhythm. Go to bed as early as possible once night falls and get up early, around sunrise for most of us. Use black out curtains if the sun comes up too soon. Your body likes regularity and so aim to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday.
If you are finding it difficult to relax your body, grinding or clenching your teeth, suffering from restless legs or feeling anxious, you may be needing more magnesium in your body. Foods that contain magnesium are cacao (so good chocolate may be OK), avocados, cashews, seeds and legumes.
If you want to take a supplement magnesium glycerinate, taken immediately after dinner. Alternatively use a spray or magnesium chloride oil on the soles of your feet or lower leg muscles before bed.
Natural daylight contains wavelengths towards the blue shorter wavelength spectrum. Daylight is the time when we are designed to be wakeful. TVs and computer screens, phones and ultraviolet light sources (think night clubs) give out very intense blue light waves. It is therefore not surprising that looking at screens in the evening is not going to lull us into restful sleep. If you are using a pad or phone screen, you may find that somewhere in ‘Settings’ you can adjust the screen to give a more yellow light which will be less stimulating. Better still read a book or listen to an audio or relaxing music before turning in.
Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day. Allow your body and digestive system a chance to rest during the night.
Take a warm shower and apply some soothing aromatherapy products with lavender, camomile, or clary sage.
A gentle 15-30 mins of relaxing yoga is a good practice but remember some yoga asanas are relaxing and others energising. A slow restorative practice is best.
Wear socks in bed if your feet get cold.
Open the window to fresh air but keep your bed warm.
Mindfulness and meditation for 20mins in the evening with some steady breathing will bring you to a calmer state of mind.
You can use similar techniques once you are lying down. Mixing together the powers of meditation and visualisation.
If your mind can’t switch off, your body won’t relax. The act of trying too hard to get to sleep can cause a cycle of anxiety and nervous energy that keeps our minds active and awake.
There is a technique that combines body awareness and progressive muscle relaxation PMR. This can enable you to take control of your thoughts and totally relax your whole being. It can be combined with visualisation, by placing yourself in an imagined serene and calm setting.
Having used these scientifically proven to be effective techniques, you are still finding it difficult to fall asleep, there are acupressure points that you can gently massage on yourself, taking you to deep relaxation.
Those who have done Reiki training should remember the chakra balancing and put it to good use on themselves.
Slowly repeating a prayer of gratitude, mantra or poem that you know very well will carry you away on the wings of your guardian angel.
Finally, try some paradoxical intention. Telling yourself to stay awake may help you to fall asleep faster, although personally I’m less impressed with this method.
If you would like more details or instruction in any of the techniques that I have described please contact me to arrange a one to one self care consultation. This would usually be done on line, Zoom or FaceTime or telephone.