Sleep is something natural that is absolutely essential and is when our bodies repair and grow, but so many of us struggle to get a decent 8 hours’ worth a night. I used to be one of those irritating people who dismissed sleep problems with “oh, I sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow!” but whether it’s due to recent events, stress, or just getting a little older, I find it harder to drift off at night nowadays. Worse still, before bed I get anxious about getting to sleep, which becomes a vicious circle and obviously doesn’t help the situation.
This month’s Om Yoga Magazine features some tips to get a great night’s sleep, including a dark, cool room, reducing stimulants and a good old glass of warm almond milk before bed. I have my own routine that seems to help, though – I definitely notice the difference when I decide I can’t be bothered to brew the kettle (we humans are so self-destructive!) and having introduced parts of this routine to my mum, it’s helped her, too.
A nice cup of tea. Decaffeinated, of course. I have two I switch between: Pukka’s Night Time from Sainsbury’s, and Heath & Heather’s Night Time from Holland & Barrett. Both are very relaxing. Pukka’s has a definitely taste of lavender whilst Heath & Heather’s is much more spearminty. I find they are good for actually going to sleep, though my mum tried the Heath & Heather tea and said it helped her sleep through the night. Trying a couple of different brews might help you find the solution to your particular sleep issue.
Essential oil on your pillow. There are some expensive pillow sprays out there, but I’ve found a drop of lavender oil on my pillow works well. As well as the smell being relaxing I find it makes me breathe more consciously and deeply, and also if I have a stuffy nose it helps clear it. Just be careful not to put it too close to your face if you have sensitive skin. Speaking of breathing more consciously..
Get some Headspace. I was introduced to mindful meditation during bereavement counselling, and though traditionally it’s frowned upon just before bed, I find it clears my mind and brings my heartrate down. Besides, your meditation practise is just that – yours – so meditate whenever and wherever you like. I find guided meditation very helpful and frequently use Headspace, which can be downloaded from your platform’s app store.
Non-essential reading. During university I was in the naughty habit of reading textbooks before bed in the hope it would sink in overnight. In reality I wasn’t really concentrating properly and the though of doing assignments was just making me more stressed! Reading something not related to work or anything you are learning about makes a real relaxation time, as there’s no pressure to remember what you’re reading or to read every word – just read what you fancy (NB – I read from Newsstand but beware as blue light from iPads is supposed to be a stimulant. I find it doesn’t bother me too much – I’d be checking Twitter before I went to sleep normally anyway!).
This is what helps me get a better night’s sleep, so I encourage you to try a variety of different things to help you with your shut-eye – my tips are included along with three other bloggers’ tips over at the Tombola Times if you’d like another perspective. Whether it be a banana before bed or reading a chapter of Gone With The Wind, if it works for you, go for it.