Mindful Mondays Series
Good sleep is so important to maintain a healthy life. Understand your patterns and ways to be able both fall asleep and stay asleep for that sacred sleep we all need.
Sacred Sleep Transcript
Hi, my name is Kim McDermott and I am a senior member on the Mindfulness Team here at Mii amo. Welcome to the presentation on sacred sleep.
Sleep is very important in our lives on all levels. Not having a good night sleep can have an effect on your alertness throughout your day, as well as your mood. It can make you feel tired and fatigued.
Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember and process information. If this becomes a pattern and habit in your life it can begin to affect your quality of life as well. It can affect you on all levels and areas within it, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I am going to talk to you about some ways that might help change your sleep pattern and habits to receive a more restful sleep, whether you are having trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, where you wake up in the middle of the night or maybe several times a night. What I would invite you to do is keep a journal to become aware of what is working and what is not working.
Think of your bedroom as your sanctuary to rest and rejuvenate, from your day and your life. Make it as comfortable and cozy as you can so that it keeps inviting you into it each night. Turn off and keep all electronic devices away for your body during the night.
If you must have your phone on, keep it at a distance from your body and head. Place across the room or better yet outside your bedroom door so you are not receiving the electronic signal which is always being emitted while it’s turned on.
If you have a television in your room, unplug it at night while you sleep. We are being bombarded with the electronic waves all day long, so give your body a rest at night. A very important step in a good night’s sleep is to go to bed every night at the same time, or at least around the same time so that it becomes a habit or a pattern.
Your body will begin to get accustomed to this and will actually start to communicate with you to let you know it time to go to sleep. Also, it is a good idea to eat your dinner earlier in the evening, and that your meal is not too heavy, and to be sure that you eat at least three hours before you go to bed, so your body can digest what you have eaten.
Caffeine and sugar can also be a factor in not being able to fall asleep, and interrupt your sleep. Try not to have caffeine or sugar after 2 p.m. so your body can process it through your system by bedtime. For those of you who like their sugar and desserts, try having them after lunch instead of dinner and enjoy them without the sugar affecting your sleep time.
All alcohol is a stimulant and is turned into sugar in the digestive process. So, if you do drink become aware of how you sleep when you do have alcohol compared to when you do not.
You can test this in different ways. If you are used to having more than one drink before bed, try to scale back to just one at night and notice any differences in your sleep. Also maybe take a break for four or five days and then resume having your favorite drink and again notice any changes in your sleep. Remember it’s all in moderation, too much of anything will create an imbalance.
Here are some other tools that can help quiet your mind and body. Guided meditations before you sleep are a great option to help you get into a deep state of relaxation to fall asleep easily.
We have ten Mii time meditations here on the website you can use. There are also guided meditations on the internet that focus on relaxation and sleep. Now, I would like to speak about using the breath to help put your mind and body into a state of relaxation, so you can fall asleep or fall back to sleep easily.
Focusing on the belly breath is focusing on the natural breath originating from the belly. So focus on the breath from your lower abdomen, by placing your hands on the belly will help with the focus. While you inhale, expand your belly up, and as you exhale let your belly fall, as you continue to be aware and feel your belly rise and fall with each breath.
You can use visuals to help focus as well. Imagine your belly is a balloon inflating and deflating with each breath. As you inhale the balloon inflates, and as you exhale the balloon deflates as does your belly.
And I like to use a visual of a cave with a candle within your belly, and keep focus on the flame of the candle as you breath. Or you can visualize a place that brings you peace and joy and bring that place within your belly as you focus on the breath.
What this focused breath does, is bring your mind into the body rather than your mind start thinking too many thoughts. It helps quiet the mind and brings the circulation of energy and blood flow back into your body to create a natural balance within you.
You can also practice a body scan before sleep or if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night. This is a mental check of the body that visualizes releasing all of the muscles in your body. You begin at the top of your head, allowing yourself to fall deeper into the pillow, releasing the muscles in your head, then releasing your shoulders, as if there were nothing to carry, then your arms, and chest, then continue this scan through each part of your body all the way down to your toes allowing each part of the body to relax further into the bed below you.
Another invitation would be to keep a to-do list by your bed. Before you go to sleep, write down what you need to do the next day. What this does, by writing it down from your hand to the pen and on to the paper, is giving your mind a visual of what needs to be done. This sends a signal to the brain letting it know you got this, and the mind no longer needs to think about what it is that you need to do.
Also keep a journal by your bed as well to write down any worries or stress that may be coming to your mind from your day or your life and use that journal to release as well. And again from your hand to the pen onto the paper, this helps move it out of your body and mind so you are no longer holding it, and is a form of release.
Some other tips that can help are to drink a nice herbal calming tea, such as Nighty Night Tea or Sleepy Time Tea, which you can buy at any natural grocery store. These are very calming teas.
Essential oils have been known to help with sleep as well. Its best to use high-grade, pure essential oils. There is lavender oil. Lavender is known for calming the nervous system, which can help you find relaxation before sleep. Chamomile oil. Chamomile alleviates insomnia by reducing anxiety. There is also bergamot oil, sandalwood oil, and ylang ylang oil.
And how to use the oils to allow them to get in your system is to place two small drops of any of these oils in your hands and rub them together, and inhale and exhale while cupping over your nose and mouth while breathing in. This get it into your membranes and system. And then add two more drops in your hands and work into the bottoms of your feet. You do not need much so use sparingly.
I do hope you find some of these tools helpful. Thank you so much for letting me share with you and have a beautiful day.