7 Mindful Tips To Better Sleep
While we will always advocate the benefits of meditation, primarily as a tool to soothe our nervous system, the truth is that sleep is key in helping our bodies recover from stress (along with exercise and meditation). We've all had our fair share of sleepless nights. But one of the most immediate benefits many people notice with a consistent meditation practice is the capacity to sleep more peacefully and consistently through the night.
One reason this happens is because as we take mindful moments or practice meditation throughout the day, we are giving our bodies a chance to recover from accumulated stress. In certain types of meditation, we enter a similar state of consciousness as sleep. That’s why alot of us feel sleepy when we meditate. It’s not that we are necessarily tired, but rather our bodies aren’t used to feeling that relaxed in an awakened state. The alternative is that if we don’t practice during the day, the moment our heads hit the pillow at night, it is often the first moment of pause and stillness we’ve had all day. So of course the stress comes flooding in as thoughts, emotions, and sometimes physical discomfort – thus, we can’t sleep.
With this in mind, we find that good sleep hygiene is important to keep our sleep account full and ultimately help us to recover stress throughout the day and adapt to change with more ease and resourcefulness. While we are no sleep experts, we have discovered a few things that are helpful for setting up for the perfect snooze.
1. Wash away the day – We are energy magnets throughout the day – both the good vibes and the not so good. Taking a bath or shower is a great bedtime ritual.
Mindful tip: Whether washing your face or taking a shower or bath, take a moment to visualize the water clearing away the energy of the day and going down the drain. As you dry yourself off, take a few intentional cleansing + deep breaths.
2. Set a consistent bedtime + sleep ritual – The body loves a routine, so a consistent bedtime helps to regulate your body’s clock. Choose a ritual to help prepare your space and mark the act of entering the sleep zone. Some examples include: lighting a candle, enjoying a cup of tea, burning some incense, or playing relaxing music.
Mindful tip: Treat yourself to your an intentional + visual “turn down” service. As you move the pillows, fold back the covers, etc, visualize yourself having an uninterrupted and peaceful night’s sleep.
3. Power down – No surprise, technology can impact our sleep. A good rule of thumb is to power down at least 2 hours before bed. But let’s be honest, it simply doesn’t always happen, so try to choose the technologies where we can let the work day go (i.e.: turning off newsfeed, shut the laptop down, limit checking email, Facebook, turn your phone on airplane mode, etc). That way, if you just HAVE to watch one more episode of Ted Lasso before bed or if we want to listen to a sleep story narrated by Matthew McConaughy or a guided meditation, then at least we are using the technology intentionally.
Mindful tip: Whether or not you are able to power down right before bedtime, try left nostril breathing (plug your right nostril and just breathe deeply through your left nostril for at least 5 breaths. The left nostril represents our yin, moon, female, energy and helps us to feel calm and relaxed.
4. Cool down – The suggested bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. When lying in bed trying to snooze, your body temperature decreases to initiate sleep—and the proposed temperatures above can actually help facilitate this. If your room is cool, rather than warm, it will be much easier to shut your eyes for the night.
Mindful Tip: Use a hot water bottle at your feet or wearing socks. This will help dilate your blood vessels faster and push your internal thermostat to a more ideal setting.
5. Cultivate gratitude – Practicing gratitude in the evening is a great way to put our day into perspective. You can write it down or simply think it to yourself.
Mindful Tip: Write down or think of 3 things you are grateful for: one thing about a loved one, one thing about a challenging time or relationship, and one thing for yourself
6. Save caffeine for mornings – Caffeine can last for a minimum of 5 hours in our system, so even that afternoon coffee can impact your sleep.
Mindful Tip: Try substituting that afternoon caffeine craving either with meditation, a brief walk, or some sparkling water. You can also practice right nostril breathing (similar to left nostril above). Plug your left nostril and just breathe deeply through your right nostril for at lest 5 breaths. The right nostril represents our yang, sun, male energy and helps us feel more energized.
7. Embrace a nap – While we are expert power nappers at Pebbl HQ, in some cases, it can impact night time sleep. But when feeling overwhelmed or especially stressed, the body usually lets us know it needs a nap, and we've learned to listen.
Mindful Tip: Take a power nap. Studies show that 20 minutes can improve your performance and alertness without making you feel groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. So set your timer and embrace the snooze.