10 Tips for Helping You Sleep
By Neelu Kaur
Have you ever laid in bed tossing and turning wondering when sleep would finally arrive? This seems to be a reoccurring theme for me when I’m faced with uncertainty or at a crossroads. With my yoga and Ayurveda training, I have developed tools in my toolbox to help but sometimes I get in my own way. Sound familiar? Back in 2012, I had a job that looked great on paper but internally I was quite unhappy. I had this constant internal struggle, should I leave a well paid, very senior title full-time role to start my own business and try to make a difference in the world? Scared, nervous with wicked relentless insomnia, I found myself at the Sleep Clinic in Manhattan. One benefit of having this sort of job was that I had outstanding health insurance that afforded me regular visits to various doctors and clinics! Blending ideas from the Manhattan Sleep Clinic, Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation, and NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming), below are my ten suggestions that will set you up for a restorative night’s sleep: 1- Self-Love Hour: Consider the hour before you to sleep devoted to self-love. Pamper yourself, dim the lights, read something peaceful, watching something uplifting, meditate, pray, take a warm bath, anything that makes you feel loved. During this time do not speak to your partner about serious matters, check emails or pay bills. This is the time to wind down. 2- Lighting & Melatonin: Dimming the lights signals the pineal gland (a pea-sized gland found in the middle of your brain) to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body that allows us to fall and stay asleep. During the hour of self-love, do not have any light facing you. If you are reading, have the light come from over the right or left shoulder. If the light is in line with your vision, it will impact the melatonin production. 3- Night Light: If you have to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, use a night light. Do not turn on the bathroom light as it signals the body to wake up making it more difficult to fall back asleep. 4- Eat mindfully: A half-hour before going to bed, eat something very light such as a spoonful of yogurt, nuts, or a few slices of an apple. Studies indicate that it is easier to fall and remain asleep when you have something light in the digestive system. The idea is not to be famished or so stuffed that it’s uncomfortable to lay down. 5- Cardiovascular Activity: Ideally, engaged in at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity 4-5 hours prior to bedtime. The body is easier able to relax and fall asleep when the core body temperature is on a downswing. If you engaged in cardiovascular activity too close to bedtime, the core body temperature is on an upswing making it more difficult to fall and remain asleep. 6- Clock turned away: Turn the alarm clock away from you, or any clock with lights. The light can be distracting and if you are constantly monitoring the time, it can produce anxiety about the fact that you are not asleep. 7- Consistency: Consistency is so key according to Ayurveda. Try your very best to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day. This might be challenging on the weekends, but if you get out of your routine, attempt to get back on it as soon as possible. 8- Deep long abdominal breathing & Creative Imagery: If you find your mind racing or difficult to ‘shut down,’ try deep long abdominal breathing. It calms the nervous system and engages the parasympathetic nervous system. On the inhale, fill the belly up like a balloon and on the exhale, bring the belly in towards the spine. Almost like you are giving yourself a big hug with the abdomen. While breathing deeply, use creative imagery to relax the mind. Give your mind something relaxing to focus on such as your favorite vacation spot, maybe you are lying in a hammock or maybe you are feeling the sand between your toes as you lay on the beach. The key to creative imagery to associate into the image, hear what you hear, see what you see, and feel what you feel as you begin to deeply relax. 9- Move away from your bed: If you cannot fall asleep and you are laying down for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something else. You don’t want to associate anxiety with your bed, so move to another area of your apartment or home. Try laying down on the couch, meditate while sitting up, read (with a nightlight over the right or left shoulder), or any other low intensity relaxing activity. Return to the bed when you feel tired and are ready to sleep. 10- Belly and Feet Massage: According to Ayurveda, when the mind is racing, it's crucial to draw the energy downwards. The best way to do this is through a belly and foot massage. You can use massage oil that you love. I use my own blend of Surya; however, other alternatives could be to use a carrier oil of your choice (jojoba, argan, coconut) and add grounding essential oils (bergamot, lavender, cedarwood, sandalwood..etc.) Create your mix and massage your abdomen and feet during the one hour of self-love time. I remember when I was much younger, I didn’t think about falling asleep, I just did. I never dealt with insomnia but now it’s become a word that haunts me. I’ve learned to get through my spurts with it and I’m here to help you. If you are interested in learning different methods to work through the mind chatter, reach out, and schedule a consultation (firstname.lastname@example.org). Wishing you a restorative deeply relaxing night of sleep!
For more information on Neelu Kaur visit her at Neelukaur.com
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