Easy ways to get more sleep
Ways to get more sleep
If you are one of the millions of people who don’t get enough rest and are looking for ways to get more sleep, read on! And just to say, I really do feel for you. Resting well is vital for mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. Perhaps you are looking for ways to get better sleep without medication that can have negative side-effects. There are many ways to get better sleep naturally thankfully.
When you are chronically sleep-deprived, your cortisol and stress levels start to rise. Sleep is how the body processes the emotions of the day and repairs and heals itself. It is horrendous to wake up in the morning after a night of tossing and turning, to realise that it is time for daytime activities and you don’t feel any more rested than the night before. On the occasions when I have felt like this, I have felt very downhearted and emotional and, frankly, unable to cope.
A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research in 2006 shows that cognitive functions known to be mediated by a part of the prefrontal cortex, including judgment and decision making, may be vulnerable to sleep loss and that this gets worse with increased age.* Sleep deprivation is a known torture method for good reason!
Planning your rest more effectively, as you might do for your Christmas shopping or your next trip away, might enable you to really gain a deep level of rest and rejuvenation. It has to be worth a try!
So here are 8 tips to get more sleep and rest well!
1) Sensible bedtime routine
I know, I know, it’s boring and you want to stay up and watch box sets or surf online. If you have kids, it’s your only adult time, but getting to bed before 10pm is hugely important.
Ayurvedic medicine tells us that we should have 2 hours sleep before midnight as that is the most restful sleep. It is also the time when you are most likely to drift off. After that, you risk hitting your second wind and then it is much more difficult.
Also, you may be wondering why do I get more tired the more I sleep? Well, our five sleep cycles are around 90 mins in length and when you have that long morning sleep-in you may wake up from a deeper part of the cycle and then feel groggy and off-kilter. It is best to stick to those five cycles of 90 minutes which add up to a 7.5 hour night of sleep.
So get the screens turned off at 9pm and use that last hour to do something nurturing. An Epsom salts bath is a fantastic way to ease aching muscles and get more much needed magnesium into the system. Just make sure you are warm and well covered up on the way to bed as the Epsom salts can make you more susceptible to getting chilled.
Of course, eating a heavy meal in the evening is not conducive to resting well either, so aim to eat the biggest meal of the day at lunchtime and have a lighter early evening meal.
Also, no caffeine consumption after 3pm. Enjoy your coffee in the morning!
Keep your bedroom dark with blackout curtains or invest in an eye mask.
A milky drink is also a great way to induce that cosy feeling of sleepiness. Avoid the dairy and make a wonderful mug of Golden Milk (recipe here), which will also be anti-inflammatory. Or try almond milk with a grating of nutmeg and cardamom..delicious!.
Final points: Turn off the wifi and leave the mobile phone at the door. Your bedroom is a sanctuary!
2) Energetically clear your bedroom
If the air and energy in your bedroom are stale and stagnant, it is not going to feel like a haven of relaxation. Firstly, get the windows open and give your room a good declutter and clean. Make sure there is space under the bed to allow for the free flow of energy and air under there. There are different ways to cleanse the room energetically.
I use a combination of sound and sage. Aromatic sage smoke has been used to clear energy since ancient times and a study in 2007** showed how it is possible to use medicinal smoke to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within a confined space. Burn the sage in a fire-safe container (I use a big abalone shell), and walk around the room, allowing the sweet-smelling smoke to get right into the corners of the room where dense energy tends to collect. Make sure to also do the surface of the mattress and under the bed.
When we are sleeping on a mattress night after night, the mattress collects our energies and can be holding a lot of negativity. Go around afterwards with a drum or a bell, or a singing bowl and refine the energy, holding the intention that all dense energy be cleared.
3) Healthy bedding
If you are sleeping on an old pillow that is full of dust, dribble and skin flakes (yuck!), chances are that you won’t be having the best nights sleep.
Pillows should be the shape and size that is most comfortable for you, clean, organic and ideally hypo-allergenic. Particularly when you have multiple chemical sensitivities, the gaseous chemicals that emanate from a mattress can be a problem, stopping you from resting well. Where possible, buy an organic mattress too. If not, at least keep it really well vacuumed, and covered with an anti-allergenic mattress protector.
Initial research conducted in the UK in 2005 showed that Lavender is effective in improving insomnia symptoms.*** So another tip to get more sleep is to try sprinkling a couple of drops of Lavender Oil on your pillow or on your temples. There are a huge variety of great oil diffusers now available and there are other oils such as Roman Chamomile, Cedarwood and Vetiver which also help to calm busy minds. Why not have a look online and find a great recipe for making your own sleep blend to diffuse?
It is vital for our energies to be grounded to the earth. We need to be in harmony with the earth’s frequencies in order to be healthy. Astronauts have the Schumann frequency (The frequency of the Earth’s ionosphere) beamed into their spacecrafts so that they stay healthy. The first astronauts in space became very ill when they were away from the earth until this frequency was added. We are part of the earth and need to be in its frequency for health. The maelstrom of electromagnetic frequencies we are exposed to these days is enormous and so grounding is vital.
Children who have wifi in their schools and at home may be subject to these disturbing frequencies virtually 24/7. We need to get our feet on the grass or earth and spend a few minutes reconnecting with her. It is a brilliant way to reduce the pain of a headache and calm a very busy mind.
“It’s too cold” I hear you cry! It’s OK to wear socks or even shoes or slippers with leather soles as these will still allow the grounding to take place. So kick off those Crocs and get your feet back on the earth every day. You will sleep so much better!
6) Restorative Yoga
There are other ways to rest apart from sleeping. Encouraging the body into a place of deep relaxation is another way of resting well and may well help you relax into sleep if you do it before bed.
Restorative yoga is a very gentle practice, in which you use supports and props, and allow complete relaxation in poses that last up to five minutes. It decreases stress, helps people heal from illness and increases flexibility as well as allowing deep rest and helping with insomnia.
7) Sound therapy
What the heck is that? Well.. sound has been used since ancient times to bring healing and balance back to the body, mind, spirit and emotions. It is incredibly powerful as it saturates every cell in the body. If you have ever been to a classical concert or experienced a gong being played, you will have felt the sound vibrations flowing through your body.
Sound can rebalance our brain hemispheres, lower our brainwave states into very relaxed frequencies that allow healing to occur, and is a great way of resting well without actually being asleep. Although, if sleep comes, that’s great too!
We are blessed as humans in that we can sing and tone. You don’t need to be a great singer to use this wonderful instrument we have been given! One way to decrease stress and release negative emotion is to tone on an “AH” sound. Take a deep breath in and put your hand on your heart. Pick any note and tone”AHHHHHH” as you extend your hand out in front of you. This helps to open and clear the heart chakra and release stress and sadness. Think of it as a long sigh with the mouth wide open. You can experiment with the note, see what feels good. Ask your body what sound it wants to make in that moment. Experiment. Doing this a few times a day will create a profound shift for you.
Other ways to utilise the power of sound therapy are to listen to healing pieces of music, I particularly recommend music by Fabien Maman and Jonathan Goldman. You could also look for sound therapy practitioners in your area. For further information check out my pages on sound therapy
Yes, you knew it was coming.. The multitude of evidence of the benefits of meditation can not be ignored. It will reduce stress, calm a cluttered mind and even help you nod off to sleep. There is a huge wealth of information on meditation online but I would just like to emphasise that it can be as simple as taking 5 minutes when you wake or at work just to slow the breath and take some deeper belly breaths. Even when the distracting thoughts come, this is part of the process. Noticing that you have chased after some train of thought is part of the skill of meditation, and it will happen often as a beginner. Don’t be discouraged: it is like anything, practice is necessary to improve.
Some people find it easier to meditate in different ways. Walking, eating, singing mantras, even doing the washing up can be done mindfully and with total awareness so that it becomes a meditation. Find the type that works for you personally. It may be different on different days, or you may need to adapt your practice around your current life circumstances but it will help you to be calmer, less reactive and sleep better.
Why not give it a try by downloading a mindfulness app onto your phone or just sitting for 5 or 10 minutes in bed wrapped up in a blanket before sleep. Really bring your full consciousness to the sensations in your body as you breathe slowly and deeply as a way to ease you into a sleepy state.
All of these tips will help one to get more REM sleep, which is the deepest most replenishing phase of the sleep cycle. It is important to get better sleep quality so that you wake up feeling refreshed. It is not a good start to the day to wake up feeling exhausted!
Comment below with any other good tips for a great night’s sleep!