Updated: Mar 24
I occasionally struggle with insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep and not feeling well-rested in the morning). For me this is usually around a stressful time or a full moon. With our next full moon coming in less than a week, I thought that this would be a good topic to address. I have talked to countless others who also suffer from occasional and/or chronic insomnia. There can be many different reasons for insomnia – poor sleep habits, poor sleep environment, depression, anxiety, stress, lack of exercise, and of course illness or medications. Getting a restful night’s sleep is essential to our body and our mind. Sleep deprivation can cause all sorts of issues during the day: Moodiness, learning/cognitive issues, memory issues, slow physical reaction times, and even inflammation in the body. In more severe chronic sleep deprivation cases, people experience hallucinations, high blood pressure, and it is linked to obesity and diabetes.
Being someone who teaches about living a mindful life, I would like to talk about some mindful tips you can try for getting to sleep and staying asleep:
Daily exercise and movement during the day will help immensely with your quality of sleep.
A Meditation practice during the day will help your brain let go of some of your worries long before bedtime.
Make sure you have a comfortable place to sleep with no noise or light distractions. Any noise or light will wake your brain up, possibly even sending a signal that it is time to be alert. If you need a nightlight, use a red/orange light.
Stick to a regular bedtime. It is best for your system if you always go to bed within the same hour everyday (on weekends you can deviate up to 2 hours).
Avoid eating right before bed. If you can, don’t eat for 2 – 3 hours before bed. Your food choices during the day will also make a difference. As always, eat healthy whole foods.
No Screen (TV, computer, or phone) time at least 1 hour before bed.
Before you go to bed, meditate to allow your mind time to slow down and dump stuff from the day. Or try journaling - giving your mind an outlet.
Once in bed, a Body scan can help ease you into quality sleep. Practicing this every night will build your mindfulness muscle so that you will eventually become naturally mindful as soon as you hit the pillow – which means falling and staying asleep easily.
When you wake up in the middle of the night:
A breathing exercise that activates your vegus nerve (the parasympathetic nervous system – the part of your nervous system that helps calm the body). In this exercise, your exhale is longer than your inhale. Example: Inhale on a count of 4, exhale on a count of 8 – repeat. You decide on what count is comfortable for you.
Focus on the good. Take one of your senses and focus on something good. Example: notice how soft your sheets feel on your skin or notice the comfy cool/warm air in the room. Then have gratitude for this thing/feeling. Focusing on something pleasant will help soothe you to sleep.
Also, when you are sleepless, don’t fight it – frustration will only cause more restlessness. If after trying some breathing and mindful exercise, you might have to just get up for a bit. Maybe get a drink of water or sit and journal. If you do get up, be sure and only engage in before bed activities. In other words, don’t turn on the TV or your computer or phone! That will be counterproductive.
Of course, if you have a chronic issue with sleep – it is always a good idea to consult your doctor. 😊
Let's get to sleep easily - Sleep thru the night - Wake up feeling energized! Zzzzzzzzzz