Ideally, we should spend eight hours a night getting our beauty sleep. Unless our minds are busy keeping us up all night with anxiety or worries and then some. In the practice of yoga, deep sleep is an important time to re-charge our spiritual energy as well as our overall health and wellbeing. It’s very important to consider how we prepare our body and mind for a good night’s rest. Often we overlook how powerful and life-changing it can be. So, I would like to share my personal bedtime ritual with you and some of the practices that have helped me along the way.
Gearing up to sleep deeply: starting a pre-sleep ritual
About an hour before sleep it helps to physically and mentally prepare yourself to get ready to rest. I try to head to the bedroom early to prepare my mind and body for sleep. Giving yourself this extra time at night also makes more space in your life to do more of what you love such as practice meditation, write in your journal to reflect on the day and just relax in general. If you have trouble sleeping, here are some things to try:
1: Aroma-infused bath or shower: Take a hot shower or herbal bath to help unwind before bed. Lavender is a great herb to use as well as roses, ylang ylang and chamomile, easy to find, calming scent. Just add a few drops to your bath, or find them infused into epsom salts or natural bath products.
2: Calming tea: If you drink tea at night, drink herbal tea without caffeine to calm the mind. Try chamomile or a sleep-blend that is calming. Try not to eat sugar or sweets before bed that might make you feel too energized to sleep. Warm water or room temperature water with lemon is also a great way to relax and unwind
3: Get comfy, read or write: Shut off your devices, charge them in another room if possible and get comfy in your bedroom. This act signals to the mind that you are getting ready for a deep sleep and to wind down. It’s important not to engage in mentally stimulating activities before bed such as the internet or TV. Leave watching the news for earlier in the day and not before bed. Instead, if you like to read a book, make sure to read something that is uplifting, positive and calming before bed. Or you can spend this time to write in your journal which can help to empty your mind, digest and reflect on your day rather than lay in bed thinking about it.
4: Restorative yoga and breath: Practice one or a series of reclining, restorative yoga postures with your blankets and pillows. Practice incorporating a steady, 3-part breath. Breathing slowly and deeply for a count of 3 on the inhale and 3 on the exhale to begin to slow down, center and connect the body, mind and breath.
5: Meditation: I have carved out a small corner in my bedroom that I dedicate to meditation practice but you can practice meditation in bed. If you live in a small space, know that all you need is you. If you have a side table you can even use it as an altar and place imagery that helps you feel safe and inspired before sleep.
6: Mantra and prayer: If you find that you still have a running, monkey mind that’s still going strong after all-of-the-above, you may want to try chanting a mantra. You can chant the most basic, powerful mantra of “Om” 108 times. Otherwise if you want a more elaborate mantra, which there are many, you can chant a personal mantra that makes you feel centered and relaxed. If you have a prayer practice, before sleep is a good time to feel gratitude.
7: Sleep music, aroma and crystal therapy: By now, you should be in the mood to rest deeply. Make sure you’re comfortable, cozy and warm. At this point in my personal sleep ritual I turn on looping sound healing music and my aromatherapy diffuser with lavender scent. I also sleep with crystals near my bed or under my pillow that help me sleep and clear the energy in my bedroom while I rest. See below for a list of recommended crystals and some additional tips:
Optimizing your bedroom design for maximum relaxation
If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider if your bedroom is providing the right mood for rest. Sometimes living in a small apartment in the city doesn’t leave us much space to work with, but there are some things we can do to optimize the space for what it’s meant for – a really, deep, relaxing sleep. Some things you can do to set the mood:
- Color: Paint the bedroom walls a soothing color that makes you feel calm
- Shades: Make sure windows have adjustable shades that can block out bright light
- Lighting: Make all bedroom lighting warm and dim. Lamps with a dimmer setting are ideal. Get rid of any harsh or bright lights to inspire a more calm atmosphere.
- Night lights: Afraid of the dark? Get a soft, warm night light by your bed and in the bathroom.
- Mattress & pillows: Get a more comfortable mattress and pillow if needed. Try for a pillow that allows your head to be only slightly tilted up, above your chest – not too much that it hurts your neck and not too little that your chin is pointing upward. Everyone’s body is different. Get one fashioned to you.
- Remove clutter and distractions: Remove unnecessary clutter in and around your bed. If space allows: move your work papers, bills, school books, computers, TVs, smart phones and all unnecessary electronics to another room. Basically, get rid of all visual distractions that make your mind wander or cause anxiety. Have your bedroom area be completely dedicated to off-line rest and sleep – it will help.
- Aromatherapy: Invest in an electric aroma diffuser that you can use relaxing, natural, essential oils in. Some also double as night lights or lanterns. Make sure you choose a calming scent such as lavender or ylang ylang. Steer clear of energizing scents such as citrus and grapefruit.
- Crystals: Harness the power of crystals near your bed or under your pillow. Some of the best to use for sleep are:
- Black tourmaline: a grounding and protective stone that clears negative energy and protects you while you sleep
- Selenite: a stone that clears all chatter and negative energy. It heals the aura and energy body.
- Hematite: also a protective stone, helps clear the mind and ground the body
- Rose Quartz: a soft pink, gentle, loving heart chakra opening stone. Helps promote a warm, compassionate self-love and universal love.
- Labradorite: a magical stone, good for dreaming and awakening the 6th chakra.
- Music: If you have noisy neighbors or have trouble sleeping in total silence, try playing looping music that is soothing and relaxing like going to your favorite spa. Try sound healing recording that use Tibetan and crystal bowls or instrumental music meant for sleep and relaxation. White noise and nature sounds are also very healing and calming.
- Re-consider how you wake-up: It’s best to have an alarm clock so you don’t need to have your smart phone in the room. Invest in an alarm clock with programmable, peaceful alarm sounds such as chiming bells or birds chirping. If it’s a digital alarm, find one with numbers that are a soft color and light. Wake up peaceful.
Do you have more ideas, tips and tricks that work for you? Please share in the comments section below.