SLEEP

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” – Leonardo de Vinci

Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, reduced muscle activity and inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and reduced interactions with surroundings. It is distinguished from wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, but more reactive than a coma or disorders of consciousness, with sleep displaying very different and active brain patterns.

Sleeping well directly affects both your mental and physical health. Fall short and it can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Yet many of us regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the sleep we need. Getting a good night’s sleep may seem like an impossible goal when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize. Just as the way you feel during your waking hours often hinges on how well you sleep at night, so the cure for sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine.

Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and weight. But by experimenting with the following tips, you can enjoy better sleep at night, boost your health, and improve how you think and feel during the day.

 

How can I get a better night’s sleep?

1: Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle

  • Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is one of the most important strategies for sleeping better. If you keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, you’ll feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times, even if you only alter your sleep schedule by an hour or two.

  • Avoid sleeping in—even on weekends. The more your weekend/weekday sleep schedules differ, the worse the jetlag-like symptoms you’ll experience. If you need to make up for a late night, opt for a daytime nap rather than sleeping in. This allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep-wake rhythm.

2: Control your exposure to light

  • Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark thus making you sleepy. 

  • Say no to late-night television. Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books instead.

  • Don’t read with backlit devices. Tablets that are backlit are more disruptive than e-readers that don’t have their own light source. When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask. Also consider covering up electronics that emit light.

3: Exercise during the day

  • People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.

 

 4: Be smart about what you eat and drink

  • Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime. Limit caffeine and nicotine. 

  • Avoid big meals at night. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.

  • Avoid alcohol before bed. While a nightcap may help you relax, it interferes with your sleep cycle once you’re out.

  • Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs. Eating lots of sugar and refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, and pasta during the day can trigger wakefulness at night and pull you out of the deep, restorative stages of sleep.

 

5: Wind down and clear your head

  • Do you often find yourself unable to get to sleep or regularly waking up night after night? Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. Taking steps to manage your overall stress levels and learning how to curb the worry habit can make it easier to unwind at night. You can also try developing a relaxing bedtime ritual to help you prepare your mind for sleep, such as practicing a relaxation technique, taking a warm bath, or dimming the lights and listening to soft music or an audiobook.

 

6: Improve your sleep environment

  • A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses. Sometimes even small changes to your environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.

  • Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet.

  • Make sure your bed is comfortable. Your bed covers should leave you enough room to stretch and turn comfortably without becoming tangled. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide more or less support.

 

7: Learn ways to get back to sleep

  • Make relaxation your goal, not sleep. If you find it hard to fall back asleep, try a relaxation technique such as visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation, which can be done without even getting out of bed. 

  • Do a quiet, non-stimulating activity such as reading a book. Keep the lights dim and avoid screens so as not to cue your body that it’s time to wake up.

  • Postpone worrying and brainstorming. If you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve. 

 

Yoga for better sleep: -

1.Hero pose (Virasana)

Starting in a comfortable seated pose with your glutes resting on your heels with the tops of your feet on the floor, hero pose brings gentle stretching action to your knees and ankles.

This pose allows lubricating fluid to flood these areas, which protects them against injury, gets rid of any cracking sounds or minor discomfort you may be feeling here, and helps them feel more loose, warm, and comfortable—without any motion required.

Take this opportunity to lengthen the spine upward, and open the chest as you find a calming breath pattern. Use your deep, even breaths to slow down your heart rate and clear your mind.

 

2. Cat and Cow Pose (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)

From Hero pose, roll forward onto your hands and knees. For cat pose, exhale as you tilt the crown of the head and the tailbone down to the ground, arching your spine into a C-curve and pulling shoulder blades apart.

Inhale into Cow pose by bringing the crown of the head and the tailbone up toward the ceiling, hollowing out the lower back. Flow between these two poses as long as you’d like, moving with the pattern of your inhales and exhales and feeling like you’re putting space between every vertebrae and loosening up your spine.

When you’re done, come back to a neutral spine in tabletop.

 

3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

From tabletop, sink your hips back to your heels and settle your chest between your thighs. Your big toes are touching one another and your knees are as far apart as they need to be to help you settle comfortably and be able to breathe deeply.

With your forehead resting on the ground or a blanket, walk your fingertips out on front of you, stretching through the arms. You can also roll your forehead from side to side on the ground to give yourself a mini face massage.

 

4. Figure Four Against the Wall (Modified Sucirandhrasana)

Transitioning over onto your back, position yourself so your tailbone is pointing at the base of a wall (or another flat, tall surface). Place your glutes about a foot away from the base of the wall.

Place the bottom of one foot on the wall and, while keeping your tailbone in contact with the ground, flex the opposite foot and gently place your ankle on top of the opposite thigh. Keep your top foot flexed throughout the pose, with the toes pulling back toward the shin, to protect the knee joint from injury.

For added intensity, place your tailbone closer to the wall and/or gently press the top knee open to the side with your fingertips. This deep hip stretch is a low-impact alternative to poses such as Pigeon and Lotus, but it still gives you the benefits of releasing any tension from the hips and lower back.

Hip stretches are essential to feeling comfortable and relaxed before sleep. When you’re ready, switch legs. See this article if you’d like more detailed instructions on getting into this pose.

 

5. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

From your figure four stretch, unfold your legs straight up the wall. If you can, bring your tailbone closer to the base of the wall, perhaps even to the point where your glutes are touching the wall. This pose can be a great gentle hamstring stretch.

It also helps drain lymph and lactic acid from the legs, which helps prevent injury and decrease the symptoms of fatigue and soreness if you spend a lot of time on your feet. Let the looseness that you brought into your lower back with the figure four stretch help you feel more comfortable in this pose.

 

6. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana)

Transitioning to face away from the wall, bring both knees into your chest and rock back and forth. When you’re ready, bring your arms out into a ‘T’ with your hands in line with your shoulders and let your knees fall over to one side.

You can keep both knees bent, straighten the top leg, or choose to straighten both legs. If you’re not feeling as much of the twist as you’d like, it may be helpful to adjust your tailbone, bringing your glutes further over to the middle of your mat so that your back is in one straight line down the center of your mat area—this may intensify the stretch in the lower back.

If you’d like a neck stretch, take the eye gaze to the side opposite your knees. Take this pose on both sides.

 

7. Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)

Bringing both knees back into your chest, grasp your two big toes with the index and middle finger. Then pull the heels up to the ceiling, keeping the tailbone down on the ground.

Your knees should be pulling into your underarm area, and you can rock back and forth to gently massage the spine. This is a great pose for relieving abdominal discomfort and is a perfect final spinal relaxation pose.

 

8. Reclining Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

From Happy Baby pose, release the feet down to the mat. Bring the soles of the feet to touch one another and let the knees fall open, pulling the heels as close toward the pelvis as is comfortable.

This pose brings a gentle stretch into the pelvis, low abdomen, and inner thighs. Pull your shoulder blades underneath you, putting space between the tops of your shoulders and your earlobes, and then bring your left hand to rest on your heart and your right hand to rest on your belly.

Allow yourself to feel your breath as you bring it down into your chest to the very bottom of your lungs. Let your breath come deeply and evenly, relax your face, and close your eyes if it’s comfortable for you

 

9. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

From reclining goddess pose, simply release your feet down to the corners of your mat or your bed, letting the toes fall open to the sides.

Release your hands so that palms are facing up and the backs of the hands are resting on the mat/bed a few inches away from the hips. Simply let your eyes close and let your mind be still and free of thoughts, while letting your breath come naturally and letting your body feel heavy, relaxed, and tranquil.

Essential Oil Therapy 

Best essential oils to support healthy sleep habits.

1. Lavender

2. Frankincense

3. Cedarwood

4. Ylang ylang

5. Marjoram

6. Vetiver

7. Roman chamomile

8.Bergamont

Meditation

Chakras, breathing, loving kindness, body scan for sleep and deep meditation 

Sustainable Nature Holistic Therapeutic Institue - Positive Transformation