by Sarah Cummings
No mum is a stranger to sleep deprivation. Because even as our cildren grow, our to-do lists seem to grow proportionally. And most nights our minds keep racing long after we have switched off the lights, thinking what we might have forgotten to do that day and planning the one ahead. We end up spending these nights tossing and turning, so in the morning we feel exhausted, moody and irritable. The result? Days seem longer and we find ourselves living for a weekend that’s waaay too far away.
And the worst thing is, it’s a vicious circle. Because not getting enough sleep can leave us feeling stressed out and anxious, which – you guessed it – makes it harder to sleep at night. Over time, you find yourself turning from a sunny optimist who’s always in the best of health, who enjoys keeping fit and who’s a thoughtful, motivated and creative person, to a lethargic pessimist who survives purely on caffeine and sugar, and who falls victim to every flu and virus going around.
But fear not, weary one – there are a few ways you can break this sleep-deprived chain, and change the rules of your own life! It’s all about creating an evening routine. A certain set of steps that you follow every night to alert your body and mind that sleepy time isn’t far away; a recipe for relaxation that’ll send you into a deeper slumber.
I’ve got just the routine right here. It worked for me, and I’m sure it can work for you, too!
Follow these steps, listen to what the sleep pros say, and you’ll be drooling all over that pillow before you know it. Charming.
- Power down early
Shut off those devices – your laptop, tablet, TV and phone – at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light they give off only serves to stimulate your mind; plus, it blocks the production of melatonin, which normally helps us to relax.
- Have a bath
Or if you’re short on time/water, have a hot shower instead. Bring a cup of herbal tea or warm milk in with you and soak up the luxury for as long as you wish. This is a great way to wash away the aches and tensions of the day, leaving your body feeling relaxed and your mind feeling clear. Or in other words, perfectly set up for sleep.
- Diffuse some oils
Essential oils like lavender and frankincense are known for their relaxing and therapeutic qualities. So, half an hour before you go to bed, try diffusing one of these fragrances in your bedroom. Don’t have a diffuser? Sprinkle a couple of drops of lavender on your pillow. Or light some scented candles, or burn some incense. Whatever it takes to create that soothing environment.
- Try some yin yoga stretches
While diffusing your oils, relax your mind and body in another way – by giving it a nourishing and healing stretch. This doesn’t mean engaging in a sweaty workout right before bed, which would just leave you pumped up and unable to switch off; no, this sort of stretching is designed to deeply relax you, with tension-relieving poses that encourage you to focus on your breath. Child’s pose, reclining butterfly and supine twists are my favourite but you can check out more sleep-promoting poses here.
- Do a meditation exercise
Since discovering meditation two years ago, my life, and my sleep levels, have changed for the better. I find myself being more tolerant, less anxious, more patient and less judgemental of myself (and others!) I meditate for 20 minutes every morning as a rule; it really gives me focus and energy for the rest of the day.
And when I can’t sleep, I try a lying down meditation exercise. Techniques like progressive relaxation are particularly useful as they actively relax each part of the body, while simultaneously giving your mind something to focus on apart from its usual anxieties!
So before getting under the sheets, try a meditation exercise while lying on them. You might be surprised at how relaxed you feel afterwards!
- Make a list
If thoughts and anxieties about the day are keeping you up at night, it helps to make a list – either mental or physical. Sometimes, I just love writing these things down; the act of journaling in itself is enough to calm my mind. Other times, I’m too exhausted to put pen to paper and I simply lie there, going through the main concerns of my day and either resolving to deal with them tomorrow or simply letting them go altogether.
I always try to end this reflective time by conjuring up a pleasant memory from the day. It might’ve been something small, like a stranger smiling at me in the street, or something big, like a promotion at work. Whatever it is, putting it at the front of my mind – ahead of those niggling worries – leaves me in a happier, calmer state and in a better frame of mind for sleep.
Oh, and I always find it quite helpful to spend a few minutes in silence every evening, simply focusing on the breath and thinking of something that I’m grateful for from that day. Gratitude brings me peace and a sense of fulfillment and it can do the same for you. Trust me, it’s a lot better than asking yourself what you haven’t finished that day!
Hopefully, this evening routine and some of my personal rituals can help you get a great sleep. But feel free to change it up if you like… just remember; consistency is key. So find a sleep routine that works for you, stick to it, and start sleeping soundly every night!
Hey, sleepy peeps! I’m Sarah, I’m from California and I’m one of those yogi types that are, well, quite typical to California! When I’m not getting my downward dog on, I’m walking my dog Scroggins on the beach. Or trying – and failing miserably! – at surfing. Maybe I’m not such a typical West Coast gal after all… 😉