There's nothing better than a good sleep, especially when you're under a lot of pressure in your everyday life. Sleep resets our spirits in the most encompassing way, and the best thing is that it's free! Here are 5 easy tips for getting a great sleep, based on my experiences and research.
1) Understand that your relationship to sleep reflects your level of trust in life, and ability to let go.
For most people, the idea that 'you can sleep when you're dead', is a fast track to burnout and adrenal exhaustion. Of course, there are times when we can't get as much sleep as usual, but if this becomes a chronic habit, beware - you're training yourself to ignore your best friend. After all, your body has been with you since you were born, and it knows what will keep you alive.
Once you start ignoring your needs, it's easy to lose confidence in your intuition and start replying on other people to tell you what to do. Sleep deprivation also causes a type of depression, which leaves you feeling that 'there's nothing to look forward to' and increases your risk of accidents.
Here's my tip: Continually remind yourself that, at the highest level, you are always on Divine time. Every person on the planet has 24 hours in a day, just like you. It's just that most people let their minds run them rather than vice versa. Imagine letting a car steer itself - it's going to crash before long right? Similarly, your mind is here to serve you - the faster it wants to go, the slower you need to proceed.
You breathe (and sleep) the way you live. Each time you feel rushed, take a long breath in for 4 counts, hold it for 2 counts, then exhale for 4 counts and hold that for 2 counts. Repeat this process until you feel calm again. Going about your day in a relaxed state will prepare you for an excellent night's rest.
Another suggestion is to learn to sit or stand with your heart/ chest in front of your head (think of a ballet dancer). I learnt this from Steve Katz my chiropractor. By pulling your head back towards your neck, you'll experience better circulation to your brain and reduce that feeling of 'not enough'.
2) Empty your mind before you sleep.
Keep a notebook by your bed and before sleeping, write down any worries or tasks so that you can deal with them later. It can be helpful to note any good things that happened to you so you close your day on a positive note. If you wake up during the night, writing down your dreams or thoughts will also help to alleviate insomnia. Or you can use a voice recorder to do this verbally.
If you have an issue with very vivid dreams (and it's not related to eating too much at dinner!) you may have an overactive Third Eye Chakra - this is best cleared through meditation, time spent in nature or yoga.
I don't encourage reading, watching TV or checking your phone/ surfing the net in the hour before sleep because these activities stimulate your nervous system. You want to release energy before bed, not absorb it. The light and radiation emitted by electronic devices makes it harder for your body to go into a deep sleep. Listening to a relaxation CD, cuddling your partner or even patting a dog or cat would be a better option right before bed.
3) Wear yourself out physically during the day.
Someone recently told me that our bodies are like pets - they need to be walked, caressed, fed and watered daily because they can't do these things on their own. It's a sweet analogy that’s very true.
Getting fresh air and sunshine each day (especially just after waking up) is great for your wellbeing. I go for a run or walk around the block in the morning and sometimes in the evening to keep my body happy. One of the fastest ways to improve your sleep quality is start working out, preferably in the morning or early evening, so that by the time you are in bed your body has a reason to rest.
Numerology tip: If you have the numbers 7, 8 and 9 in your date of birth (e.g. 19/8/1977) you especially need outdoors time and extra rest as you tend to use energy quicker than other people. It's all part of being a creative genius!
If you have more than 3 '1's in your date of birth (e.g. 11/6/1992) you'll also benefit from light weights and regular deep breathing to ground your natural nervousness and drive to 'do'.
Stretching before sleep is also a good idea if you are prone to a sore neck, jaw and shoulders.
4) Make sleep a sacred event.
During sleep our bodies reconnect with our Souls and learn information that can help us on our journeys (like visiting a spiritual library). For this reason it’s best to keep your bedroom free of clutter and strong smells and to keep it for sleeping, love-making and relaxation only. Buy the nicest sheets and sleepwear you can find (bamboo is lovely) so that you look forward to resting.
Going to sleep around the same time each night is recommended, however if this isn't possible see if you can set up a ritual such as having a foot soak or playing music so your body knows when to wind down. The best time to sleep is between 9-11pm as this will rejuvenate your decision-making organs according to Chinese medicine. Procrastinators please take note! :)
5) Eat well, sleep well.
Having dinner a few hours before sleep will ensure that your body can focus on rebuilding itself (rather than processing a big meal) during the night. I'm sensitive to gluten and dairy and if I eat these foods I have difficulty sleeping for a few days afterwards. I also find that if I skip meals during the day, it’s harder to rest at night because I have dietary ‘jet lag’.
A lack of vitamins and minerals can lead to poor quality sleep. I take magnesium before bed as well as thyroid and adrenal supplements to keep my metabolism balanced. You may want to consult your naturopath or local health food store for more information.
Drinking water close to bedtime can result in you waking up during the night to go to the bathroom. This results in poor rest, especially if you turn the light on (as this interrupts melatonin production). It's better to drink water during the day rather than 'catching up on it' at night.
I hope you enjoy experimenting with these tips. If you’re still having issues sleeping, a final suggestion is to just let yourself ‘be’ and to love where you’re at on your learning journey.
Celebrate the hours of sleep you are having and, even better, take a nap during the day to boost your final ZZZs score. Siestas are magic!
This article is a companion to my previous blog about How Sleep Makes You Rich.
For more information on sleep health, check out Stanley Coren's book, Sleep Thieves, SleepWarrior.com and The Perfect Day Plan by Jost Sauer.
Also stay tuned for my meditation tracks coming out in early 2014.
To find out more about your spiritual health, life purpose and numerology, book an in person or phone/ Skype reading with me for January 2014. I'd love to meet you soon.