In recent years we have become increasingly aware of just how crucial sleep is to our overall happiness and wellbeing. What is less documented in the media, are the steps that need to be taken to get the best possible nights sleep, without the need to turn to prescription drugs, which is a path that none of us want to take.
One of the main steps that I have been reading about and experiencing for myself is building a relaxing night-time routine to encourage sleep. The essential steps we take on the path to sleep are without doubt a key to eight hours of blissful sleep and within that, one of the best tricks that I have discovered and that works every time is meditation.
One of the hardest things to do is learning to switch off at the end of a day and it is so tempting to relive the day often in a negative way that fills us with stress and anxiety and it is often those thoughts that prevents us from relaxing. Dwelling on the past or worrying about future events and possible outcomes, or trawling through social media until the early hours of the morning are all common night-time rituals that are a detriment to sleep.
Meditation, on the other hand, helps to free the mind and help you to regain control of your own thoughts. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean a long period of time...you can meditate for five minutes, up to half an hour, but the theory is to be able to liberate our minds and concentrate on our bodies and the here and now and not on the past or future. This can begin to happen, only when we stop and focus our attention on our breathing.
So how does it work?
By consciously focusing on our in and out breath, our minds have no choice but to think only of breath.
At the same time, starting at the top of the body ie the head, we tell our body to relax and remove any tension, then our neck, our shoulders and so on until we reach our toes and then a general focus for the whole body.
It is learning to tell our minds what to think and not letting our minds control our reactions, that really helps us to control our pathway to sleep.
This process can be as long or as short as you can bear and one really good technique is 4-7-8 developed by Dr Andrew Weil. This breathing method is rooted in yoga practice and can really help you drop off, even if you only do it for five minutes.
If you find that you need some good pointers to help introduce yourself to meditation, there are plenty of apps that have been designed to guide you through a meditation session. My favourite meditation app would be Breath, as it mainly focuses on controlling your breathing and can be done in a spare two minutes throughout the day or before bedtime.
Here is a calming routine that will help to promote sleep and help you incorporate meditation into your daily routine:
Come home and change from your everyday clothes into Homebody nightwear.
Switch off the TV at least an hour before bedtime.
Refrain from caffeine after 7pm.
Drink only Camomile tea or water after 7pm.
Refrain from snacking after 10pm.
Make sure your bed has clean and crisp bedding.
Adjust room temperature to 6-18 degrees centigrade for optimum sleep.
Begin a cleansing and moisturising face routine.
Or take a warm bubble bath with essential oils before bed.
Do a couple of gentle stretches to release any tension around the body for about 5 minutes.
Meditate to calm the mind for 5-10 minutes before bed.
Homebody sleep set and focus again on your breathing until you drift off to sleep.