By Carrie Demers, M.D., Yoga+
Our bodies are designed for sleep to come effortlessly. When it doesn’t, when we’re holding on to the day’s stresses and reaching out for tomorrow’s too, there are a number of ways of inducing the body and mind to let go and slip gently into a restful sleep.
Create an Environment that Will Help You Sleep
Your bedroom should be tranquil and inviting. Make it comfortable and conducive to sleep. Eliminate ambient light and any noise that could disturb your sleep. If possible, reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex. Conduct other activities—reading work-related material, watching TV, paying bills, and disciplining your children—in another room. In time, this will create the expectation in your body that the bedroom is where it goes to relax and rest.
End the Day with a Calming Routine
Go to bed about the same time every night. Create a routine that prepares you for sleep. You may already have some kind of program you follow before you go to bed—locking the house, brushing your teeth, maybe reading a little. A pre-bed routine is a way of telling your unconscious that it’s time to sleep.
Make sure that this routine is relaxing, not stimulating—winding down before bedtime increases the likelihood that your mind will let you rest. If you find the news disturbing, skip the late broadcast. If you live in a safe neighborhood, take a leisurely stroll. Read something pleasant and soothing—save the suspense novel for earlier in the day. Take a hot bath. Sit for a period of meditation. The trick is to calm your mind and quiet your nerves before you get into bed.
And speaking of routines, getting up at the same time every morning will make it easier to fall asleep at night. Attempting to compensate for a night of disturbed sleep by staying in bed longer in the morning will simply further disrupt your sleep cycle. Get up on time, even if you don’t feel like you’ve had enough rest—you’ll have a much better chance of falling asleep easily when bedtime rolls around again.