Welcome to day twelve of my 30 Days of Ayurveda series! Throughout these blogs and videos, I will be sharing some upbeat thoughts and wellness tips, as well as some Ayurvedic tricks and food recommendations to help you lead a balanced life.
Tips to help you sleep
Here I will be giving you my top tips to help you sleep. During day one of my ‘30 Days of Ayurveda’ series, I discussed the importance of rhythm and routine. During that blog, I talked a lot about waking up and how to find your optimum rising time. However, it is equally important to talk about what time we should be going to bed. A good day starts with a good night. So creating a good sleep routine is vital for good health and well-being the next day.
Unsurprisingly, recent studies have shown that many people are suffering with poor sleep due to lockdown. For example, research conducted by King’s College London revealed that 63% of the UK have experienced changes to their sleep patterns since lockdown was enforced, while 50% of participants also said that their sleep was more disturbed than usual.
Whether you been suffering for some time with poor sleep, or it has only become an issue during lockdown, I wanted to share a few tips with you to hopefully help you get to sleep.
What’s stopping you from getting to sleep?
There are many different reasons why we sometimes can’t fall asleep.
- Worries. Some of it is to do with a rise in anxieties and worries. Obviously, there is a lot to think about at the moment, whether it be your work, home life, or health. Whatever it may be, there are many things that can play on the mind. These things have a habit of going round and round and stop you from dropping off. My suggestion is to journal about half an hour before bed. Simply sit down with a pen and paper and write down anything that has been troubling you throughout the day. Literally get it out of you head and onto the paper. Hopefully, once you’ve done this and got into bed, all the worries of the day will be playing less on your mind.
- Routine. The other thing that people are experiencing at the moment, and something I particularly hear from my clients, is a change in routine. Whereas before you may have had a strict sleep schedule for work (e.g. ‘I must have an early night as I need to get up early for a meeting’), for some people, this part of their routine has very much changed. However, I would encourage you reinstate some kind of sleep routine. Particularly if you are having trouble sleeping, to help with the natural rhythm and harmony of the body. This means going to bed at a regular time.
- Melatonin. As I mentioned in my first blog, the body starts to secrete melatonin throughout the afternoon and into the evening, peaking in the middle of the night. We want to catch hold of this natural wave, where the body (in conjunction to the light) wishes to settle down and get some sleep. This allows our body to reset, recover, and repair itself for the next day.
We should very much focus on calming the body and settling down.
This is exactly the purpose of melatonin: to begin to settle us down for sleep. We want to flow along with that, so this preferably means no screens for about half an hour before bed. Try to keep them in another room, and turn them off so you’re not tempted to use them! The lack of screens before bed allows the body and mind, in particular, time to settle.
What can I do to help prepare me for sleep?
Some people like to fall asleep reading, and if you do this, no problem at all. However, if you find that you read and then are tossing and turning all night, it may be that the material you are reading is too mentally stimulating. Instead, try switching to something a bit more boring, something that will literally send you to sleep!
Otherwise, I often suggest to clients (with some really good results) to do a really mundane activity that is not stimulating before bed. Maybe it’s playing an instrument, making some kind of craft, or doing a mindful colouring book; whatever it is, just do something that is very soothing and calming to help you unwind before going to bed.
Another good practice is oiling. Try putting a drop of lavender oil into some olive oil or sunflower oil and massage the soles of the feet before bed. The earlobes also respond really well to being massaged, so just gently, gently soothe the earlobes and the ears, and hopefully this practice might steady you down and enable you to have a good night’s sleep.
Avoid daytime sleeping. Sleeping during the day can mean you are simply not tired by bedtime.
Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing even more tips and tricks to help you build some great Ayurvedic routines. Hopefully, they will soon be imbedded in your life and you can progress with them. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting on, and why not share which of these techniques have helped you to get off to sleep? Find me on Instagram @anneheigham and on YouTube.