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Gearing Up to Shut Down: Ready Yourself for Sleep

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By Tim Griffin of TimGriffinHealthCoach.com

I’ve been having a heck of a time getting to sleep at a decent hour post-holidays. To help me get back to a decent sleep pattern, I thought I’d write this blog post on that very topic. Before introducing the list I want to say one general thing: Use a mindful approach to sleep. This is pretty broad, but what I mean is that your sleep should be of primary importance to you since it impacts everything about you: your energy level, your mood, your ability to focus, your metabolism and your general unique existence. Getting good sleep sets you up for the best possible day

So here’s a quick checklist you might use to begin to shut down your body and slow down your brain as you drop into that regenerative brain state we call sleep. Try even just one of these, but if you do more than one, it may be best to keep them in the suggested sequence.

    1. Turn off all computer interface gadgets at least 1 hour (2 hours is better) before bed time. This is huge and easier said than done, I know! If you fall asleep way before the 2 hour gear down phase is up, well, that tells you something. Your sleep debt is significant, so your body and brain are beckoning you to rest that much more.
    2. The 4-7-8 breathe is a simple but effective breathing technique borrowed from ancient eastern traditions like yoga. I use it daily as a way to fall into sleep but also to clear my foggy brain and refocus during the day as well.
    3. A hot towel scrub is a great way to downshift from your day, reflect, and give yourself some general loving self-care.
    4. Use a white noise maker.  There are so many options for these now. It could be a simple machine that you plug in somewhere away from your bed, or it could be one of many apps on your smartphone. If you use a smartphone make sure you are running something like f.lux to avoid the brain stimulating blue light that the screen will emit.
    5. Guided meditation is a great way to fully downshift your brain before sleep.  Alternatively, take it a step further and practice a little yoga nidra before sleep.  Yoga nidra will initiate a full systems shut down for complete mind-body rejuvenation. It induces a complete state of mental and physical relaxation.
    6. Take a hot water bottle to bed with you. Lay it across your belly for a few minutes. It’s soothing and relaxing. Just make sure you use the restroom just before you get into bed!

There is a lot of pretty geeky stuff you could try if you want to experiment further, but any one of these tips should help you improve your sleep considerably. Just give it a few nights before you judge the efficacy of the new habits.  Good sleep is a key factor in any smart approach to holistic health. If you have some tips you’d like to share, please do in the comments.

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