`We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep’ …. William Shakespeare.
What would you give for a solid, un-interrupted, peaceful, nights sleep? For most of us, it would be the ultimate gift but is seemingly difficult to achieve. I recently joked with my best friend that I hadn’t had a really good night’s sleep since pre childbirth, at which she heartedly chuckled but agreed.
I got to thinking how I could be sleeping more soundly, with less wakeful episodes during the night and have since embarked on a sleep regime which is working a charm. I am now making my sleep time and pre bed routine a bit of a ritual and the results are rather surprising.
We devote approximately 7-8 hours per night as adults to sleep and around 12 hours a night in childhood. This amounts to a staggering 200,000 hours of sleep by the time we reach 60. But it’s the quality of sleep I am most interested in.
So what can we do to achieve our sleeping goals?
De-clutter your bedroom. Make your bedroom a space that is clean, spacious and invites a relaxing vibe. Invest in a really good mattress. I know they can be pricey but a good mattress suited to your needs is a huge factor in ensuring you enjoy some quality sleep. Dress your bed in some good quality natural fibre, bed linen. Make the bed visually pleasing and buy the right pillow for your individual needs. I have spent a small fortune sampling various pillows and the very best I have come across are from IKEA. They have a great range at really cheap prices. Remember to either wash or replace your pillows every 12-18 months.
Make your bedroom quiet, dark, cool and with a fresh air source. Light supresses the release of melatonin so be sure your bedroom is dark when sleeping. This includes banishing any electronic devices from the bedroom including a mobile phone with alarm. Buy an old fashioned alarm clock and don’t have it too close to you while sleeping. Electronic devices are obviously stimulating and should be avoided in the bedroom.
If you do tend to wake in the night, keep a journal by your bed and jot down anything that may come to mind. Get it out and write it down, then return to your sleep position. Try not to get up and move around.
Make exercise very much a part of your daily routine. Try and exercise every day at around the same time if possible. Some sleep studies suggest that exercise increases the slow wave sleep. Slow wave sleep is associated with growth hormone release. Growth hormones build up metabolic molecules and improve muscle mass and muscle strength.
Take Magnesium! See your naturopath or health practitioner and invest in a good quality magnesium supplement. Magnesium is a mineral found in low levels in many foods. It plays an important part in hydration, muscle relaxation, energy production and the deactivation of adrenalin. Magnesium is vital for the function of GABA receptors, which exist across all areas of the brain and nervous system. Take between 400-500mg of magnesium before you go to bed. This should be in a chlelated form (such as citrate, ascorbate, orotate, glycinate, ideally a mix of them).
Consider a Magnesium chloride bath before bed time. This is a wonderful product that truly relaxes you before you sleep. If you are a shower person do not run the water too hot or at least end the shower with tepid water.
Avoid caffeine from around 2pm and I am sorry but alcohol is not going to help you sleep. If you do drink, drink moderately and make your last drink at least a few hours before your bed time.
If you love oils, use a diffuser and place about 4-6 drops of lavender, easy air, ylang ylang or chamomile oil in the vaporizer as an enhancer for sleep. Another idea is to spray your pillows with lavender oil. Make sure the oils are organic and I recommend the range from DOTerra.
MEDITATE – I know, I know, many people roll their eyes but meditation is the key. You don’t have to meditate on a rock in India, in a loin cloth. Meditation can be done pretty much anywhere and at anytime. You can meditate for 3 minutes or 20. Once you have your technique down pat, it is so easy and just such a beautiful, vital ritual to integrate into your life.
I taught my daughter to meditate when she was 4 or 5. I use to teach meditation at her local school and as children are so visual it was easy for her. You can use a mantra, breath, visualisation, an affirmation, meditate with a colour or sound – you can use so many techniques so find what works for you and just DO IT. If I feel I don’t have the time, I do my gratitude list every day, it may only be three things but it just really helps me stay present and in grace and what a beautiful way to go to sleep – in gratitude.
If you can try and integrate some of these ideas into your bedtime routine you too may enjoy some pleasing results!
As the Dalai Lama says: `Sleep is the best meditation’…….