How important is sleep? Well, if you consider that sleep deprivation is a form of torture then we should rate it pretty high.
The findings of the National Inquiry into Australia’s Sleep Health in Australia, conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport, were released this week.
Sleep Health Foundation Chair, Professor Dorothy Bruck commented “For the first time in the world a comprehensive government-level document has acknowledged that quality sleep is as important for health as a good diet and adequate exercise. It also calls for sleep health to be recognised as a national priority”
What is a lack of sleep costing you?
4 out of 10 Australians are not getting enough sleep and scarily in 2016-17 inadequate sleep was estimated to contribute to 3017 deaths in Australia. (As revealed in a 2017 report conducted by Deloitte Access Economics on behalf of the Sleep Health Foundation)
Do you place the same importance of sleep as you do on diet and exercise?
If we think about diet and exercise these are usually things we are investing in, we buy good food we invest in gym membership or Yoga/Pilates classes. So how can we invest in our sleep?
I remember as a kid finding it hard to go to sleep and often lay awake for hours. We are not taught how to relax, so I’ve decided to share seven yogic tips that may help you prepare for a good nights sleep.
#1 – Make going to bed a ritual
This is my #1 tip make sleep sacred, make it something to look forward to something you enjoy
If you are over stimulated, make going to bed a ritual, dim the lights, light some candles, burn some essential oils, drink a calming tea. Enjoy the natural rhythms of the sun setting and the moon rising. The time of sleep is also important and as your grandmother said the hours before midnight count more than the hours after. As with any ritual going to bed at the same time each night, as often as possible will help your body establish a healthy rhythm.
If you have trouble falling asleep or find yourself waking up in the night because you have so much on your mind. This can be a sign of too much stress, so take note of what your body is telling you and have a look at your life and where you can ease the pressure. If it’s to do with circumstances that you can’t change then see if you can change your attitude to what is going on.
#2 – Massage for Tense Muscles
Stress can be held in our body in the form of tight muscles. Become aware of your body, notice if your muscles are tight and tense.
A massage is a fantastic stress-buster. You can give yourself a foot massage before bed to help you sleep better as it is grounding and nurturing and will relax the nervous system. I would encourage you to use oil when you massage, try coconut oil in summer as it’s cooling and in winter you can use sesame oil* as it is warming.
Check out my youtube video of how to give yourself a relaxing foot massage to help you sleep.
#3 – Breathing
Become aware of your breathing. Notice how deep it is, if it is shallow and you are breathing into your chest try to deepen your breath. Try taking some slow deep inhales and exhales before sleep. Place your hand on your belly and as you breathe in deeply notice your hand rise up as your belly expands and then as you exhale notice your hand sink and your body let go.
#4 – Temperature
Are you too hot or too cold?
Some people really feel the cold and popping some socks on can be comforting and soothing especially if you do a little foot massage first. If you are feeling scattered or slightly anxious a weighted blanket can also help.
If you have the opposite problem and are always hot, make sure your room has adequate ventilation and your bedding is made of natural fibres. When it’s really hot I pop eye masks in the freezer with a drop of peppermint oil on them, great for using on a hot balmy night when it’s hard to sleep.
#5 – Bluelight
The blue light emitted from smartphones or tablets can cause strain and keeps you from falling asleep. This is because the blue light suppresses melatonin secretion and interferes with circadian rhythm. Switch off screens at least 1 hour before you go to bed.
#6 – Meditation/Visualisations
Meditation and visualization teaches you to concentrate awareness. It helps to move the energy from your mind into your body and activate your parasympathetic nervous system. There are some great guided meditations around find a voice that resonates with you.
#7 – Exercise
Are your getting enough physical exercise during the day?
Yoga is brilliant to do before bed as it combines relaxation and physical exercise. Stick to slow yin style poses and forward bends rather than an active stimulating practice.
I hope these tips are useful.
Harvard Health Report Blue light has a dark side https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
Sleep Health Foundation – http://sleephealthfoundation.org.au – melatonin
Australasian Sleep Association https://www.sleep.org.au/asanews/world-first-parliamentary-inquiry-report-marks-defining-moment-for-australias-sleep-health