I’m not a naturally good sleeper – I’ve had to work at it!
After years of research and Yoga & mindfulness practice, I’ve compiled a toolbox of tips and tricks to help with better sleep – both getting to sleep, and staying asleep.
You don’t need to do everything on this list. Just pick and choose what is practical for you right now…perhaps adding one thing each week until you’ve built up a regular Better Sleep routine that works well for you.
It’s often a range of realistic, do-able things that help.
- If you’re lying in bed trying to get to sleep, close your eyes and drop the gaze of your eyes behind your closed eyelids. When your eyes wander from left to right and upwards, you’re more likely to find your mind worrying about the past or the future.
- Notice the length of your inhalations compared to your exhalations. Can you find an easy way of making your exhalations a little longer? Can you allow a natural pause at the ends of your exhalations? I have a free downloadable Breath Mindfulness Recording you can listen to while lying in bed: click here to download.
- Go to bed in a cool room, using warm, heavy coverings on the bed, rather than heating the room.
- From sunset, light your home with spot lamps for a softer, warmer light rather than bright or white overhead lights.
- Put a curfew on viewing phone screens, computer screens and iPad screens after sunset or as early as you can – definitely from 10pm. Even avoiding bright light in the bathroom when brushing your teeth will help.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark (no electronic lights or moonlight) and quiet. (Have a back up plan to sleep away from snoring partners, like a sleeping bag on the lounge or use soft earplugs).
- Eat a light dinner before 6pm. (If you need a snack after that, try a handful of toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds). This one’s hard with modern lifestyles, but the earlier & lighter you eat the better.
- Be in bed with the aim of going to sleep before 10pm. After that, you get a “second wind” of energy and it’ll be much harder to wind down.
- Have a bedtime ritual that is always the same. This might involve a relaxing piece of music, massaging your feet with warm oil, a warm bath, a gratitude diary…include something you find relaxing. A short restorative Yoga practice is perfect! Viparita Karani is an easy and very effective bedtime Yoga pose for stress relief and to encourage relaxation.
- Try a warm milk or milk substitute drink with honey and a sprinkle of nutmeg in the evening. You can also get herbal teas which gently encourage sleep – we love Love Tea’s blend (no affiliate link here, we just love it!):
- Or, to try my healthy bedtime hot chocolate recipe for Better Sleep, click here
- Drink herbal teas or alternatives rather than coffee after midday. Alcohol can fool you into thinking you’re more relaxed but it’s actually a stimulant, reducing sleep quality and making it more likely you’ll wake up during the night.
- Practice 5 to 10 minutes of meditation when you can, just practising being in the present, not in the past or the future. If your mind is very very busy, you might need a Brain Dump (fill up A4 2 pages with your thoughts,without stopping).
- Have a notepad and pen beside the bed so that anything that pops up mentally can go on the notepad for dealing with another time.
- Before you sleep, take a few minutes to be quiet and notice any leftover feelings and emotions you can let go of. I like use 3 long exhalations: 1 is to let go of leftover physical tension, 2 is to let go of leftover thoughts, and 3 is to let go of leftover emotions. Write them down if it helps. Then find a few things to be grateful for and let the day go.
- Get some bright natural light and fresh air first thing in the morning to help keep your inner clock on track.
- Get some physical exercise during your day, at least a 20 minute brisk walk, for example.
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