Here are a few simple ways you can get the sleep you need to rejuvenate and heal your body and mind:
1) Make sleep a priority. Make a commitment to get to bed earlier and inform all the people you live with of your new bedtime. Your body loves routine, so go to bed around the same time each night, even on weekends. Prioritize your to-do list and get the important stuff done early in the evening, such as doing laundry, returning phone calls and checking email.
2) Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Create a relaxing nightly ritual such as taking a shower and putting on comfy PJs. Dim the lights, set the thermostat to a cool, comfortable temperature and remove all electronics from the room, including your cell phone. Most importantly, reserve your bed for only two activities — sex and sleep.
3) Monitor what you eat and drink before bed. If you’re eating a late dinner, skip heavy, greasy meals that could cause indigestion. A cup of herbal tea can be relaxing, but drink it a couple of hours before bedtime, so you don’t have to get up during the night to relieve yourself. Avoid excessive alcohol and limit caffeinated beverages to early in the day.
4) Avoid anything stimulating late in the day (except for sex, which can have a sweet, sedating effect). Skip activities that raise your heart rate or blood pressure, such as scary movies, exercise or housecleaning. Steer away from heated discussions with your partner or roommates. Save those emotionally charged topics for another time.
5) Unwind with restful restorative poses. Hold each of the following poses for 2 to 5 minutes:
- Supported forward folds create a feeling of surrender and letting go. When folding forward from a standing position, keep a soft bend in the knees and rest your head on a yoga block, chair or your bed. When folding forward from a seated position, add stability and comfort by resting your head and chest on one or two pillows.
- Legs-Up-the-Wall pose reverses the effects of gravity and calms the mind. Rest on your back with your legs extended and supported against the wall, soles of the feet facing the ceiling. Place a loose strap around your thighs just above your knees so your legs won’t slide down the wall as you start to relax.
- Reclined twists give your body a gentle internal massage as you compress the organs. Pull the right knee into the chest and stretch it across your body. The left leg can be straight and resting on the floor or bent and stacked underneath the right knee. For extra support and comfort, place a pillow between the stacked knees. Take your gaze opposite the legs to stretch and release tension in your neck. Repeat on the other side.
6) Slow down your breath and lengthen your exhale. This breathing technique can be performed with the above poses or while resting comfortably in bed. Take a couple of full breaths in through the nose and out the mouth as you let out a long, gentle sigh. Next, bring your lips together and breathe only through the nose. Nostril breathing moisturizes and filters the air and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Make your exhale twice as long as your inhale, counting silently to three on the inhale and to six on the exhale. This will create a feeling of relaxation and letting go, allowing you to drift off to a sound sleep.