“To sleep: perchance to dream.”
Didn’t Shakespeare have a way with words. It sounds so inviting doesn’t it and yet the reality for many of us is quite the opposite. Did you know that as many as two-thirds of Britons have sleep problems and that the NHS now spends over £50 million per year on sleeping pills!
So what’s to be done? Well the key words are relaxation & routine and with this in mind we have put together a range of bedtime rituals that will help you re-programme the habit of sleep. We have also included a very powerful relaxation exercise that not only releases the stress in your body but is the perfect tool to relax you way to sleep.
Here they are:
1. Set your body clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every night and every morning (sorry but for now day-time naps and sleeping in at the weekends is banned).
2. Stop all work-related activity 2 hours before sleeping to give your mind a chance to unwind.
3. Designate your bedroom as your sleep zone. Make it as restful a space and as far as possible reduce external stimulation. Making it dark (black out curtains) and silent (ear plugs) really helps. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 65° F or 18° C).
Avoid reading and watching the TV in your bedroom (maybe music or audio are an alternative to that habit?). Leave your technology the other side of the door – stop texting, browsing the Internet or checking your emails as the bright screens of our devices disrupt sleep! In this way you are programming your mind to associate your bedroom with sleep and not sending it mixed messages.
4. Get lots of daylight and fresh air – this helps with the sleep regulating hormone melatonin. Even if you can’t get outside see if you can move your desk to the window. Regular exercise is also great for promoting sleep.
5. Watch what you eat and when! Avoid eating anything two hours before bed. Limit your caffeine with a cut off pint of about 2-3pm in the afternoon! Yes really. And it’s dull but true that alcohol, sugary foods and refined carbs all trigger wakefulness at nighttime. So try to limit those as far as possible or at least don’t eat a late evening meal. If you’re hungry then bananas, milk or yoghurt are an alternative healthier pre bed snack.
Now that you have set the stage for a great night’s sleep the last suggestion we have is a wonderful relaxation exercise in which you will use your breath as a vehicle to calm your entire being thus promoting true relaxation and rest.
Before you begin this exercise you need to pick two colours. One colour is going to represent your negativity, stress and worry – maybe black or grey? The other colour is going to represent harmony and peace – maybe gold or blue?
• Lie flat on your back, get comfy and close your eye.
• Notice the flow of air in and out of your nostrils and the gentle rise and fall of your chest.
• Stay present with your breathing and allow yourself to let go. If a thought comes in just return to noticing your breathing.
• When you are ready begin to imagine that on every exhalation you are breathing out and releasing your cares & concerns.
• And that on every inhalation you’re are breathing in the new energy of harmony and peace.
• Continue breathing this way until every cell and fibre of your body is aglow with the colour of harmony and peace.
• Allow yourself to be lost in the light and the wonderful energy.
• Before you finish imagine that the beautiful light also cleanses the room, transmuting all the energy.
All these tools help you to reprogramme your mind and body to successful sleeping as well as allowing yourself to completely relax and in doing so “to sleep; perchance to dream.” Enjoy and let us know how you get on!
Fiona and Gavin