Welcome to Part III in my series about Escaping the Brain Rut: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep! This week we are focusing on three practice ideas to try right before going to bed.
If you are deep in the sleep struggle, feeling haggard and worn out, the idea of doing anything else probably creates a knee jerk resistance from the mere suggestion.
I do understand!
But let me offer you a different perspective….if you change nothing….nothing will change. A magic switch will not automatically flip one day and all your sleep troubles will be gone. There is not one event or thing that will make it all go away. Peace comes from the inside which means you have to do inside work.
The following practices are proven scientifically, medically and energetically to provide amazing results that contribute to your overall well-being. They are relaxing, centering, calming, grounding and feel good to your body, mind and spirit.
So, I am gently nudging you to stop resisting the work and embrace the practice. Try one and really surrender to it for at least a week. If that one doesn’t do it for you try another. I highly encourage you to include at least one of these practices in your final daily or nightly routine.
Deep breathing is great for releasing tension, soothing nerves and calming emotions. However, most people don’t practice conscious deep breathing effectively. Either they don’t know how or it feels too inactive for the doer.
Qigong is a wonderful practice that incorporates breath and energy movement. I found this YouTube video that shows several bedtime postures. This particular video doesn’t focus on the intention part of it as much as I like, and the practices should be slower and more focused. But I do like that he provides many to choose from.
Try them all and then select 3 or 4 that feel good to your body and do them every night before bed. Once you have the movement down pat, I invite you to slow it down and really focus on your intention…moving the energy, grounding, creating calm.
Yoga seems to be one of those things you either love or hate. I used to land firmly on the latter until I tried restorative. Restorative yoga poses are another great way to relax and decompress.
About a year ago I found Lazy Bed Yoga! Yes, you read that correctly. There are 6 passive poses that take 11 – 15 minutes and they are worth every second. There is no straining, no struggle, no downward dogs (my personal least favorite) and you do them in your bed! Legs up the wall is my favorite position, my yoga teacher refers to it as the real fountain of youth!
Feel free to save these photo collages for handy reference. The original video is linked below.
Meditation is a very hot topic these days because of its immense restorative benefits. However, many people struggle with sitting still, emptying the mind and focusing only on the breath. Unless you are extremely disciplined and already a peaceful person, this practice can create more stress than calm.
Instead I recommend Guided Meditation or Visualization. This gives the mind something to do while allowing the body to relax. Free apps are a great resource for relaxation and sleep visualizations. Here are 3 to try.
o Stop, Breathe & Think App – this app provides a platform to check in with your thoughts and emotions, record them, breathing exercises and guided meditations. You can choose to do as much or as little as you want. Free meditations are available in relaxation and sleep among many others.
o Insight Timer – this app has 10,000 free meditations plus courses including one called Your Guide To Deeper Sleep. There is search feature making it easy to look for the type of meditation you want. If you can’t find one you like here, then meditation may not be your thing!
o Breethe App – this app has many short guided meditations with a couple of free ones specifically for sleep. It also has a series called Better Sleep for paid members.
REMEMBER: If something doesn’t work for you try not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I suggest trying each practice that appeals to you for 7 days – 30 days. One or two nights is not enough time for your system to reset. Practices take time, your body-mind-spirit need to adjust and adapt. Somethings may help a little, but they aren’t enough. That’s okay, you may need to add another practice or two in order to find the combination that works for you. Either build on what you like or put a pin in what works so you can come back to it later.
Keep notes and record your experiences each day. Include:
· Any significant or major events that impacted your day
· The practice you tried
· Time of night you did the practice
· Your mood before and after the practice
· What time you went to bed
· The quality of your sleep
I have created a printable Practice Log to make this process even easier.
Share your thoughts and experiences with these practices, what works and what doesn’t. If you have some other ideas about pre-bedtime practices that have worked for you share those too!
NEXT WEEK: Good Habits
The information and suggestions provided in this article are opinions and in no way constitute medical or psychological advice.