Does sleep seem illusive? Are you lying awake watching the time go by, getting closer and closer to the time you need to get up? Well you’re not alone! I personally struggle with sleep problems but it’s something I am working on. Increasingly friends and students are asking me how to cope with insomnia.
3 main issues seem to be:
- Falling asleep
- Frequent waking or nightmares
- Having slept but waking up exhausted
Sleep is becoming more and more challenging for many of us as our lives become busier and more stressful and our lifestyles more sedentary. Technology increasingly invades every aspect of our lives. There is less and less time to stop, unwind and process our day as we are constantly bombarded with emails, texts, photos, games, social media… need I go on?
We should all know the general guidelines for healthy sleep;
- Avoid using technology or anything with a blue light for 1hr before bed
- Make sure the environment is calm and clutter free
- Take a warm bath
- Sleep t regular times / create routine
- Cut down on caffeine and smoking
- Write a to do list for the next day to feel prepared and reduce anxiety
However even if we get all these things right, sleep can be hard to come by.
So…. Can yoga help?
Practicing yoga techniques before bed can be very helpful. Here are some options you can choose from. Or better yet try them all! One of the most important aspects is making sure you create a regular routine, 5 mins everyday is better than 1hr every now and then.
- Do some gentle asana practice followed by yoga nidra (video coming soon)
- Meditation or mindfulness practices.
- Benefits include, stress reduction,self awareness, acceptance and calming the nervous system.
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position and begin to focus on the breath. Notice any thoughts that come into the mind and let them go. Accept you having this thought – no judgements – no critisisms – just allow it to pass without getting caught up in it and refocus on the breath. The idea is to practice noticing when you get distracted and returning to the concentration.
- Start with a short amount of time and work up, even just a minute if you have never practiced mindfulness before.
- Another technique (which is not really yoga) is to write 3 pages in a journal – it doesn’t matter what it is that you write, just get everything out – don’t over think it, its a stream of consciousness. I first started doing this as ‘Morning pages’ as described here Morning Pages However I have found that doing this just before bed is really helpful to ’empty’ the head. I have found it interesting to do the practice before bed and in the morning as it can be amazing to see the shift in perspective after sleep.
Do you have any other strategies that help you?