Sleep Relaxation is the practice of unwinding and preparing for bed time in advance so you are ready for deep, good quality sleep which leaves you feeling rejuvenated, repaired and refreshed for the day ahead.
For many of us though sleep does not come so easily and most adults will experience some form of sleep related issues at some point in their lives. It could be difficulties drifting off, staying asleep, waking up feeling exhausted, disturbed sleep from babies and children or many other sleep related problems.
If this sounds like you, you are most definitely not alone. While the odd bad night may not cause any long lasting side affects other than a bad mood, longer periods of bad or disturb sleep can lead to serious health issues such as exhaustion, depression and anxiety.
Waking through the night and not falling asleep in the first place is a design fault and safety precaution by nature. Think of our older but not so wiser caveman ancestors. Do you think they turned in at 8pm every night , snuggled up on a bed of leaves and fell soundly and deeply asleep until morning light? We would all be extinct if that was the case. Danger, fear and a survival instinct would have kept them sleeping with one eye open. Survival in its purest form. Fast forward to our quick paced modern life and while getting gobbled up by a wild mountain lion as we dream in our beds is unlikely, our ever growing to-do lists, less down time and constant pressure to juggle multiple tasks daily might leave us all feeling a little bit chewed up and spat out and we sleep poorly or not at all as a result.
This is where Sleep Relaxation comes in.
A Good nights Sleep - What is it and what does it mean to get it?
Its not just about quantity, how many times have you woken up after a long nights sleep feeling drained and exhausted? Quality and type of sleep is the aim of the game and the key to pure, natural, deep sleep which is healing and rejuvenating. When we get this type of sleep we wake feeling refreshed, well rested, happy and enthusiastic about the day ahead.
Getting this gold standard type of sleep has physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits. We wake feeling more energised, our body is able to repair itself and our immune system is strengthened, we can engage with or emotions more and keep them in check, we are more focused, organised, creative and have more enthusiasm and inspiration for life.
How to practice Sleep Relaxation?
There are hundreds of different ways to relax, rest and prepare for a good nights sleep. Some new and some old. What works for one person may not work for the next so don't let a failed attempt put you off searching for the perfect slumber. The most important aspects of a good nights sleep are:
- Prepare yourself and let your body and mind wind down - Start to relax, quieten down or even go to bed and rest between 9pm -11pm. This vital rest period rebalances and resets our metabolism, adrenal and thyroid glands. Try a lavender and Linseed eye pillow to help you relax. The warmth will sooth tension and provide comfort while the gentle pressure applied to the vegas nerve will send signals to your body and mind that it is time for sleep.
- Get the monkey off your back - Ever found yourself wide awake the night before a big event, your wedding night, an exam, a job interview or maybe even a sunday night before a busy week ahead? You are worrying about sleeping well as you want to perform to your best ability but the longer you find yourself awake and worrying about sleeping the harder it is to actually shut down and drop off. Quieten the monkey on your back by realising that sleep is not the only way to recharge. We actually get energy from other places as well. From the food we eat, the exercise we do, the way we breath, our heart and spirit and the people around us. Rest, relaxation, peace and stillness are like sleeping with your eyes open. Relax your attitude towards sleep and relinquish control. Enjoy the stillness of laying awake, drop your shoulders, breath deeply, relax your muscles, breath out and let go. Sleep may come, it may not but you will definitely survive to try again the next night.
- Night Time Foot Massage - As recommended in 'The Little Book Of Sleep' Foot massage is said to balance the doshas. The simple act of rubbing oil on the soles of the feet, especially at bed time, calms and can really help to quiet the thoughts and slow down a racing mind. Create a lovely ambience for your foot massage, light a candle and play some relaxing music. Warm a small amount of massage oil and begin to slowly massage the soles of your feet using circular movements with your thumb. Continue for at least ten minutes. Relax and enjoy the sensation of caring for one of the most neglected areas of your body. Think loving thoughts, let it be a meditation. When you are finished put on a warm pair of cotton socks, climb into bed and get ready to sleep like a baby.
- Cut out the caffeine and drink more water - This one is a no brainer. Caffeine mimics adrenaline and puts our bodies into high alert. Aim to reduce your intake or cut it out completely to see so many other health benefits besides better sleeping
- Move, Move, Move - Exercise and physical movement produce chemicals which promote sleepiness. You don't have to run a marathon every day but try and include more physical movement into your daily routine every hour or so. Exercise, fitness classes, yoga are all great if you can work them in but even small regular movements like face exercises, walking up and down the stairs, balancing on a wobble board will help reach that all important deep slee
- Process the day and let go - Not everything can be resolved before you need to drop off to sleep but sleep should always be the priority. There are some simple ways you can let go of the day even with unfinished business. Write a to do list so you don't need to carry the next days tasks in your mind and wake in panic in the early hours. Leave the notebook and pen next to your bed in case you forget anything last minute. Try a bit of meditation or breath exercises to clear your mind and release energy and tension built up through the day.
- Go Outside (My personal Favourite) - According to 'The Little Book Of Sleep' studies show that getting out into nature, ideally somewhere green or near water and trees, helps to restore the balance of the hormones serotonin, oxytocin and melatonin that are vital for your mood, wellbeing and sleep. To reconnect with the earth try standing bare foot on a damp bit of earth, grass or sand. Soften your body and focus on your breathing. This exercise is most powerful just before going to bed, just remember to wash your feet first.The Little Book Of Sleep offers a step by step guide on this exercise along with many more exercises and ideas to sleep better.
With dedication an open mind and heart sleep relaxation techniques could improve your quality and type of sleep and positively impact your life, relationship, performance and family dynamics.