Yoga for Sleep is all about deep nourishment of the body and mind with an emphasis on getting a good night’s sleep. We want to allow the body and mind enough time to rest, digest and repair from the day’s activities. Good quality sleep can really aid this process – but how do you achieve that if you’re wakeful or find it difficult to switch off after a busy day?
Here are some top tips from Jo Sumner – on route’s Yoga-for-Sleep practitioner:
- Try not to worry about the amount of sleep you’ve had or the quality. Let go of the idea of how much sleep you’re ‘meant’ to be getting and concentrate on making small adjustments.
- We produce melatonin – the hormone that promotes good sleep – in the mornings. It’s stimulated by daylight – so getting outside in the morning can help to build up the store of melatonin in your body which can help your ability to fall sleep at night.
- Create the right bedroom environment – and make your bedroom a place purely for sleep or sex! Try not to use it as an office or place to work. Keep it cool and allow air to circulate – even in the winter. Leaving the window open slightly will freshen the room every day. Keep surface clutter to a minimum and regularly de-clutter.
- Get into a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time, 7 days a week. And try adopting a wind-down routine like a relaxing bath, some quiet reflection time, reading a (real) book or even journaling for 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Ban your phone, tablet or laptop from the bedroom. Blue screen light – even that seemingly quick 5 minute Facebook check before bed – can stimulate your brain and delay the onset of sleep for up to 90 minutes! If you use your phone as an alarm, perhaps you could plug it in just outside your door or switch to an alarm clock.
- When you are lying in bed, trying to get to sleep, switch your mind-set into accepting that simply resting your body might be enough for now.
- Exercise is a fantastic aid to sleep but you need to leave a 3-4 hour gap between energetic exercise and your bedtime routine to enable your body to relax.
- What you eat can aid restful sleep. Protein at breakfast can help produce serotonin – a hormone that can regulate the central nervous system and help control moods. B vitamins – found in beans, fish, poultry, leafy veggies, eggs and wholegrains – can be beneficial. Also magnesium as a supplement or in leafy green veggies can have a calming effect and help you unwind after a long day. Avoid heavy, fatty meals that are difficult to digest.
- Caffeine has an impact on your blood sugar levels by making you reach for sugary snacks and starchy foods, creating a yo-yo effect on your energy highs and lows throughout the day and preventing your body from winding down. Avoid coffee, tea and chocolate after midday.
- Alcohol is another stimulant that is best avoided close to bedtime too. Whilst it can appear to help you to get to sleep, it can also cause you to wake in the night. Move your alcoholic tipples earlier in the evening – around 6pm – or, better, try to avoid drinking on consecutive nights.
- Be more mindful.Try to accept that most things change and practice being able to relax in the moment.
- There is a breathing technique you can try which soothes your mind, like waves on a beach. If you are lying in bed, unable to sleep, imagine breathing in – your breath moving up from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Then, breathing out – your breath travelling back down through your body and out through your feet. Imagine your in-breath as breathing compassion, self-care and healing in and your out-breath as releasing anxious, unhelpful or sad emotions. Continue this for 3-4 minutes and then reverse your breathing – moving in through the top of your head, reaching the soles of your feet and moving up your body and out again. This simple technique should enable you to relax and fall asleep.
Jo runs a Yoga For Sleep class every Monday morning at 11.15am at on route. It’s a class where you learn about the factors that affect sleep, slow down with restorative yoga poses and experience deep relaxation.
And if 11.15am doesn’t work for you – do let us know a time that would be better for you!