“Oh darn! It’s 3:40 am and I am awake! Why is this happening to me? What’s wrong?”
Maybe you’ve experienced this scenario, particularly if you are over 30 and living a full and fast-paced life with work and all of the ever changing situations we find ourselves in our current global crisis.
In the past two months I have totally reversed this trend and cracked the code on my sleep and I now achieve consistently good sleep scores. This was no small feat! Having a health tracker that tracks my sleep was the key.
Most people have a health tracker by now, between the Oura Ring, FitBit, Apple watch, and Garmin amongst others. My angel of a husband gave me a gorgeous Nokia watch August 2018 and I started tracking using the Health Mate app, but it was not until recently that I took a better look and was shocked by my poor sleep scores.
You might wonder, why would an expert meditation teacher have trouble sleeping through the night? Can’t I just meditate all night long and be calm and cool as a cucumber, or snug as a bug in a rug? The fact is, you can meditate until the cows come home or you even levitate above your yoga mat but if you have poor “sleep hygiene” your quality of sleep will suffer, and impact your life.
How did I tackle this monster? First, I became aware of what is happening. Next, I needed to be willing to take action. The key is in good daily sleep habits and consistency. I learned ways to nurture my sleep and treat it as the precious ritual it can be. The most essential piece is choosing a bedtime that works where you can get at least 7-9 hours of sleep time. For me this now between 10 - 11 at night. Then, bedtime can be like a meditation. No electronics at least an hour before sleep, so you can calm down. Meditation is a huge help here, as you can take some deep breaths, focus on positive thoughts to prepare for a great night's sleep. You will find wonderful night time playlists on our Spotify channel!
Length of sleep is the most important factor to boost your sleep score and you want to hit that sweet spot of 7-9 hours. Next is Regularity - being in a habitual rhythm allows for your body to be aligned and consistency is key. Having a tracking device helps immensely and then study your own data to hack your own sleep. Depth and Interruptions are the other metrics that will help comprise your overall sleep score. During deeper sleep, the more cellular recovery you will achieve and your memory and thoughts can be integrated - and the less interruptions there will be.
Why sleep matters: Sleep is one of the four main pillars to optimal health:
I put Soul - which includes Meditation, relaxation, quality time with friends and family, enjoyment, and living in a good emotional and spiritual balance at the top, followed by Sleep because if we are not self aware we cannot even see that we have too little sleep. Our emotional and spiritual wellbeing effects our moods, our mental state, energy levels and even our digestion. Everything will eventually go off balance and you will find yourself moving closer and closer to the edge of exhaustion, or in the worst case, a burnout.
The way I turned this around was to practice some great rules around my sleep. Now I sleep well every single night, and I feel like a new me!
Here is my ten step formula for super success with sleep:
Choose a bedtime that gives you 7-9 hrs. solid sleep time. Mine is 10:00 p.m.
Make sure your bedroom is peaceful with no flashing lights and preferably no lights of any kind, which trigger your brain to think you should be awake.
By your bedside have a nice fresh full glass of water and a box of tissues. A journal to write in or piece of paper and a pencil is also recommended in case an idea comes to you in the night you need to make a note of. Other nice items to have: lip balm, moisturiser and calming pure lavender oil.
Take a minute or two to meditate before bed, maybe listening to soft music - check out our Flow Nighttime before sleep playlists.
Have your cell phone/alarm (if that is what you use for an alarm) 6 feet from your body, on airplane mode and set your alarm for at least 7-9 hours from when you will fall asleep. The longer the better.
If you wake up during the night, DO NOT check the time, just stay calm and restful. Looking at the time will cause you to think about it, which is disruptive to your sleep flow.
If you find yourself awake in the night, place your hands gently on your chest and breathe long slow deep breaths, and focus on gratitude. You can repeat the word gratitude in your mind. You can count to 5 as you breathe in and out slowly. Focusing on your breath and on gratitude will help calm you and ease you back to sleep.
If you can't sleep and need to get up and pee, or read or stretch, just go back to bed and sleep but do not worry about having woken up. This happens to everyone! Many folks wake up 2-4 times in the night and this does not have to degrade your sleep score if you stay relaxed and positive.
Sometimes I listen to meditation music or soft sleep meditation all night long. Experiment to see what works best for you.
If you need to get up, turn on your light, sit up and read a bit or write in your journal that is ok. You will still get a good sleep score if you take some time you need to read something and then gently go back to sleep. Put a calming book by your bed, not a crime thriller! A book about meditation is great, like Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda for example.
Some folks need some extra support, like taking Melatonin, Ashwaganda or Valerian. I personally am experiencing great success with taking two Sefitude tablets every evening, from Florealis, an Icelandic company. I love Florealis' products because they are made with natural herbs. I take one Sefitude about an hour before bed, and the second one right before I go to sleep. I notice that if I am following my protocol that this ritual helps increase the depth of my sleep.
Please sign up here for our Flow Restore Sleep workshop where you can become an expert on how to meditate to achieve better rest and sleep!
I wish you all a deep and restful sleep tonight, and always!