taking the pressure off of going to sleep by telling yourself your going for optimal rest.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night try taking the pressure off of going to sleep by telling yourself your going for optimal rest. Then if you fall asleep during your optimal rest period it’s a good bonus.
I’ve worked for over 20 years in the mental health field facilitating groups on relaxation, meditation, and sleep hygiene.
caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it
Sleep is part of a daily cycle. Children and teenagers need more sleep sometimes up to 10 or 11 hours. Adults average about 8 hours up to the age of 55. Those over the age of 55 need less sleep – about 8 to 6 hours. These figures are not set in stone and there are always exceptions to every “rule”.
Since the time of the industrial revolution mainly the advent of electric light and more recently television, computers, smart phones and the internet the natural rhythms of our bodies have been disrupted due to light pollution.
Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side
Before Sleep – The Experts Report – Our bodies adjust to light dark cycles so if you’re having trouble sleeping at night you may want to consider making changes to your daily routine:
Exercise – in the morning or afternoon. Avoid exercise in the evening or at night this can signal your body to become more awake or alert. Exercise is important for a good night’s sleep even if it is a short or long walk in the morning or afternoon.
Caffeine – The experts report that caffeine can affect your body and disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it. This can affect your ability to fall asleep and your ability to stay asleep.
Television, Smartphone or computer use – excites the brain. Sleep experts recommend to stop using these devices at least 2 hours before retiring
Snacking – Sleep experts recommend that you wait 3 hours after eating to go to sleep for a better night’s sleep.
Technique – If you do sleep poorly and assuming your morning is sunny you can re-set your body clock by sitting in the sun from 40 to 60 minutes in the morning.
Sleeping Timing – experts suggest going to sleep at the same time each night. I have observed that this has to do with body memory. Disrupting body memory where we experience a burst of energy hurtling passed our ordinary bedtimes usually comes from caffeine or a late night snack of sugary foods or refined carbohydrates.
No Alcohol Before Bedtime – I almost did not include this because many people already know that while alcohol can put you to sleep it can often wake you up several times during the night. A drink or a glass of wine with an early dinner is okay.
Minimize Electrical Gadgets in your Bedroom – a lamp is good with an incandescent bulb and is best for reading and a feeling of warmth. An alarm clock without excessive lights if you need one is okay but not an alarm on your electronic device. Watching television in-bed, surfing the net from your smartphone or tablet is bad for your sleep hygiene. Best to turn off your cell phone or tablet if you are keeping them in your bedroom.
Light and Temperature – Your bedroom should be as dark as possible, no light at all. But if you startle waking-up in a dark room, a light in a different room or a very dim nightlight is okay. If you have equipment such as a CPAP machine prescribed for your sleep then of course that’s okay. Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side, in summer and winter. Our body temperatures drop at night and by cuddling with ourselves under the covers we warm to an optimal sleeping temperature.
muse on your day, begin the letting go process
One to Three Hours Before Sleep – These are nightly rituals, that when I use them, they assist me in getting a better night’s sleep. Admittedly I don’t use them as much as I could.
The Wind-Down – Begin with a hot beverage – an herbal tea, or warm milk, or a non-alcohol hot-toddy-for sleep: A-Non-Alcoholic-Hot-Toddy-for-Sleep
As you begin to enjoy your beverage muse on your day, begin the letting go process.
Next take care of brushing your teeth and all those to-do things before laying down to engage in optimal rest.
If you get in bed before the 40-minute period before closing your eyes, plan on reading, listening to music or doing some breath work, but ideally this should occur after taking medications and/or supplements.
LET GO AND BREATHE
Thirty (30) to forty (40) minutes before lying down take any nighttime medications or supplements.
Here are the supplements I take at night for their sedating effects:
GABA – It’s an neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Its uses include but are not limited to: improved sleep, lowering anxiety, help with chronic pain and lowering blood pressure;
Calcium – most calcium is derived from a dairy product which may have a sedating effect
Sometimes I take:
Aconitum Napellus 30c – four to five pellets under the tongue – It’s for anxiety but it can aide in falling to sleep.
Immediate Preparations for Optimal Rest
These techniques can be used in preparations just prior to closing your eyes or if sleep doesn’t come.
The Body Clench – this is a systematic clench of muscle groups and their release in your body. Begin by scrunching up your feet and clenching your toes. Don’t let go. Next tighten your calf and thigh muscles, then tighten your butt muscles, your chest and abdomen. Next make fists and tighten the muscles in your forearms and biceps, stretch your neck by moving your head towards your chest and scrunch up the muscles in your face.
Then LET GO AND BREATHE.
Don’t beat yourself up because your suppose to be sleeping
The idea is to make your body tighter so you when you release the tightness tense muscles also release and allows your body to move into a more relaxed state.
Sleep experts suggest you sleep on your side. Sleeping on your abdomen (belly) inhibits your breath so not good for optimal rest.
Close your Eyes – (30 to 40 minutes after taking your medications and/or supplements) When you close your eyes there may be an automatic response for you to think about everything your worried about, or to criticize yourself in someway. Worry may manifest as thinking about something repeatedly (obsessing) – trying to figure it out. Or maybe you’re trying to solve a problem or review something that happened that day.
Let yourself do this for a few minutes. Make it okay. Don’t beat yourself up because your suppose to be sleeping even it goes on you five to ten minutes or so. Also you might want to engage in some soothing self-talk such as: “I’m a gentle person”, I’m applying compassion towards others and myself” “I like _____ about myself” or think of a peaceful scene in nature – a sunset over a lake or behind a mountain, floating or flying over fields, seeing waves at the beach.
It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go.
Then tell yourself that it time to dive deeper into optimum rest.
Begin this next process by scanning your body with your mind for any areas of your body where your holding tension and imagine breathing them out (with your out-breath). Let go.
Next, focus on your breath. Usually, what happens when we begin to focus on our breath is that we take control. That’s okay. Breathing in this way soon becomes like work. When you start to realize that its work then begin to watch your breath as it moves in and out of your body without trying to control it. You’re just matching your thoughts with what’s happening in your body automatically, that can be a lot easier.
I may just practice watching my breath achieving optimal rest
Your mind may wander back to your negative or problem solving thoughts without you realizing it. If this happens let them go and move back to your witness mind watching your breath. The rhythm of your breath is similar to waves coming to shore. As you imagine your breath like the waves you may feel the peace of waves as you picture them in your mind.
Focus on your breath in this way for at least 20 to 40 minutes. Usually what happens for me is I fall asleep, but I only know this has happened when I awaken the next morning. I realize I have released and fallen asleep.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen and I catch myself on the edge of letting go and pull myself back into a wakeful and circular thought process – a knee-jerk response. Here I may do some soothing self-talk (silently saying to myself):
“It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go. I can be a deep diver. I can let go. I am letting go, letting go…”
If after 20 minutes to an hour and I’m awake I may just let myself be satisfied with continuing to watch my breath and drop into a deeper level of meditation. Or I may get up and go to the bathroom and return to bed and matching my thoughts with my breath.
For more about my work visit: Ontario’s The Kai