When you wake up in the morning, your tone for the day is already set. The mood you wake up in will typically determine the quality of your day.
But what determines the mood you wake up in? It’s the quality of your sleep. We spend so much time and money enhancing our diet and fitness, but improving our sleep can be the single most important thing we do. Optimizing our sleep can revolutionize the quality of our life.
Improving your sleep can involve a number of steps, but here are 7 simple tips to a better night’s sleep – drug-free.
Change your values around sleep
In the west, we place a very high value on doing (rather than being). We often consider sleep to be a waste of time. However, it is during sleep that we heal and rejuvenate. Of course, while we are asleep we are not conscious to know what is going on. If we were, we would probably put sleep up as our number one priority.
While we sleep, we produce human growth hormone which keeps us young, as well as an array of hormones that make us feel happy and motivated the next day. Our brains are also effectively “cleaned out”, so we are on the top of our game cognitively the following day.
If we truly understood this, we would probably place quality sleep at the top of our list. By valuing sleep, we begin to prioritize it, and we do things better when we prioritize them.
Start to value sleep, rather than seeing it as a time burner.
Learn to read your stress signals
I have so many clients coming to me saying that they don’t believe their sleep struggles are stress-related, but when we look at their physiology, all of the signs of stress are there. If we have elevated stress levels every day, we may feel normal, even though our nervous system is saying something else.
We need to personally be aware of how stress manifests in our physiology so that we know when you are stressed.
Do you have short shallow breaths into your upper chest, or do you have long slow deep breaths into your lower abdomen? Do you have tight muscles, or loose, relaxed muscles? Do you hunch over or do you have a flexible and upright posture?
If you answered the former rather than the later to any of these questions, chances are you have elevated stress or anxiety levels. Lowering your stress and/or anxiety levels will help you to sleep better. But the first step in this process is knowing when you are stressed or anxious, so:
Learn to read your physiology so you are actually aware of when you are stressed or anxious.
Step into your Feminine
The daytime is more closely tied to our masculine energy – doing and achieving. It is the time we activate our sympathetic nervous system. At night, in order to sleep, we need to activate our parasympathetic nervous system – which is associated with the feminine (relaxation, simply being, etc)
The parasympathetic nervous system is connected to our “rest, digest and reproduce” functions. If we are still in fight or flight, we cannot drift off into a peaceful rejuvenating sleep. Regardless of whether we are male or female, we need to step into the softer feminine energy at night, in order to succumb to sleep.
Learn to let go and surrender, especially before bedtime.
Connect to Yourself
When mind, body, and spirit are out of alignment, it is very difficult to fall asleep. Connecting to yourself and living in alignment with your truth will help you not only to sleep more easily but will help you to achieve a better quality sleep.
Take a moment to be still, reflect on your day, and release any tension you are holding onto. Where in your life are you living in misalignment with your higher purpose and values?
Get into a Whole Brain State
It is much easier to fall asleep when our left and right hemispheres of the brain are integrated. Most of us have a dominant left brain so we need to do more activities to activate the right hemisphere of the brain as well. This includes getting out of our routine and doing new activities, as well as activities which utilise the imagination. Children drift off to sleep with a nice bed time story. They can be very creative, and it truly helps.
Try activating the right hemisphere of your brain by doing something creative before bed.
Most of us curl up when we go to bed. What we may not realize is that we are putting our body into a fight or flight posture. Studies show that when we are in fear, we automatically go into the fetal position.
If we go to sleep in this position, we may be signaling to our nervous system that we are in fight or flight, and that it is not safe to go to sleep. Starting tonight, try to sleep with an open posture instead. It can take some time to get used to, but in the long term, it helps.
Open up the lung area, so that you can take nice deep breaths.
Take a Smile to Bed
Experiment with different strategies that help you to get to sleep at night. Have one prepared – that you know works – so that you’re not lying there planning the next day. Different strategies work for different people. Find something that helps you switch off from the day and helps you to shift your state to something you find pleasant and relaxing. Whichever strategy you find, do it with a smile.
We are more likely to have positive thoughts if we have a smile on our face. This helps us to nod off faster.
Put a smile on your dial in bed.
There is so much more to sleep than the commonly written about topics of sleep hygiene (ie the sleep habits and “rules”) and the common answer of meditation/mindfulness. The tips in this article are just the tip of the iceberg. We are all unique. In order to create lasting and deep changes to your sleep, you will get the best results by working directly with your own sleep expert. Your sleep expert will work with you one on one to eradicate your sleep issues – so that you feel great and live to your true potential.
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