Keeping our bodies strong, flexible and toned is key to great physical health, but not to be underestimated is the importance of quality sleep. We spend approximately a third of our life sleeping, during which our bodies repair, rejuvenate and reset mental and physical functionality.
As a yoga instructor and practitioner, people assume uninterrupted deep sleep comes easily to me. After a long day of balancing teaching with hectic parenting responsibilities I have no guarantee of a night of restful sleep. Like many people, often my mind continues to bustle with thoughts, and my body sometimes aches from the physical strain.
By practicing mindful behaviors and creating a nurturing resting place, I’ve found greater peace and comfort in my sleep, which has benefited my life greatly. Here are a few tips I’ve found incredibly helpful to achieve the blissful slumber we all deserve.
1. Create a peaceful environment. My husband taught me to wind down the mind and body about 30 minutes to 1 hour before going to bed by shutting off all electronics, dimming the lights in the house, even turning off music. Especially avoid bright screens on computers, iPads, cell phones, which he believes stimulate the brain.
2. Sleep on a hypo-allergenic, firm, organic bed. One of my biggest sleep impediments was allergies, in addition to tossing and turning at night. When I switched to organic and hypo-allergenic bedding my congestion cleared and the firm spinal support allowed me to sleep more deeply, and I didn’t wake up with the usually soreness and crick in my neck. My husband (who also practices yoga) and I love our organic coconut fiber mattress from Palmpring.
3. Use meditative/relaxing breathing exercises. Find a comfortable seat, and for 1 to 5 minutes focus on elongating the breath, taking deeper breaths each time. Shift into a meditative breath: inhale for 7 seconds, hold breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds. Repeat this cycle 5 to 10 times. Next, lie down on your bed with butt against headboard, feet up the wall, let the blood circulate down. Stay there at least 60 seconds (maximum 3 minutes). From there, move gently to a savasana position on your back with pillows under your knees. Feel your body is getting lighter and lighter. Loosen your jaw, let go of tension, close your eyes. Don’t worry about your ability to fall asleep.
4. Watch what you eat. Avoid sugar consumption after dinner which includes staying away from fruit. Let your largest meal be breakfast, lunch a power meal that keeps you going, and dinner a “recovery” meal. Drinking lots of water and eating healthy contributes to sounder sleep.