We know that we are all about dreaming, but in order to dream big you have to sleep.
Given how much of our lives is given over sleeping, we understand remarkably little about its process or its functions. But we do know that we cannot go for long without feeling the need to sleep.
We also know that we see sleep as one of life’s pleasures, even though – paradoxically – we are more or less unconscious when we experience it.
With such unprecedented changes coming on so quickly it is understandable that the importance of sleep is flying under the radar.
If you find yourself struggling to sleep because of the current situation you are not the only one – we can relate as well…
The good thing is that we might have some tips on how to stop being a night owl and relax more in this period of time.
Sanctuary For Sleep
Your bedroom might be a factor that is stopping you getting a proper sleep. This exercise calls for you to apply the emotional brain – training tool of sanctuary to your bedroom, which should be as inviting and restful as a tropical beach.
When you have an hour to spare go to your bedroom and look at it as if for the first time.
Is it a peaceful place?
If you can hear noise from outside, think what you can do.Thick curtains are effective at reducing noise as well as light.
Is it a comfortable place?
When did you last change the mattress or buy new pillows?
Replace them if they are showing signs of wear.
Male sure that any light is blocked out when the curtains or blinds are down.
You sleep better in a dark room.
Foods for Bedtime
We all love our midnight snack but the bad news is that one of the main causes of sleeplessness is overeating in the evening.
You should aim to have your evening meal at least three hours before going to bed.
If that leaves you so hungry at bedtime that affects your sleep, then it is a good idea to have a late – evening snack with sleep – inducing properties – try these ideas.
A handful of cherries or a glass of tart cherry juice – cherries are rich in melatonin. One study found that drinking cherry juice helped increase participants’ sleep by 25 minutes.
A glass of warmed milk; this really helps you feel sleepy because it contains the amino acid tryptophan, which aids in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Other foods that contain tryptophan include oats. Bananas and turkey.
Leave Work Behind
This exercise is inspired by cognitive behavioural therapy, and encourages you to treat leftover work thought like mosquitos buzzing in your ear.
Just like mosquitos, our thoughts can be annoyances that interfere with our ability to relax.
Here are three ways to keep them out of the bedroom:
- Visualize your work thought as mosquitos or other noisy bags and watch them fly away into the window.
- If your mosquitoes are really bugging you, then try giving yourself time to attend them. Set a time limit – half an hour, say – after which you will leave all the worries until the following day. If your mosquitos thoughts still won’t give you peace, take them elsewhere.
- Normally we would say to go for a short walk or sit in a park but following the current situation we recommend you to sit on your balcony or on your terrace.
Keep A Clean Sheet
There is no doubt that a bed that feels fresh and unrumpled is more conductive to sleep. But for many people (especially now) making the bed is a way down on the list of morning priorities.
Here is a list of reinforcements to help you remember why you should try to make your bed at the start of each day.
- It signifies the end of your sleep time and the beginning of your work day.
- It gives you a sense of completion when you leave the bedroom.
- It gets you into the mode of accomplishing things throughout your day.
- It invites you to a quieter bedtime and a calmer sleep at night.
Hearing a piece of gossip about ourselves, struggling with difficult issues at work or arguing with a loved one – all these things have an aftermath that can affect our sleep.
Here is an exercise that you can do to release any upsetting thoughts.
Close your eyes as you lie in bed. With each breath, imagine your body is drifting upwards into the night sky. Within minutes you are among the stars.
You notice that you have a white pen in your hand. You start writing on the dark sky about the good and bad parts of your day. Everytime you write about something bad the words tumble out of the sky like falling stars, but the good parts of your day remain in place like new constellations.
When at least you have no more to write, you flow back down to your bed. You glance up at the starry firmament, and all the good thoughts are still there, written on the sky.
Practise this meditation daily when you go to bed. With your sky writing pen you’ll see how to develop a more neutral mind.
You may also find that your dreams become more pleasurable after practising this exercise.
A mantra is one of the tools used in mindfulness based stress reduction.
It is a word or a phrase that you silently repeat to yourself, helping to anchor the mind in stillness and inducing a meditative state that promotes deep rest. The use of mantras can be effective for people who dread the hours of wakefulness or are worrying about the next day.
Think of a couple of words that you associate with relaxation. Some examples include peace, soothe, serenity, stillness. Or you might prefer to use something from nature: dolphin, cloud, snowflake.
Close your eyes and string a couple of your words together. The two word phrase doesn’t have to make sense, it should just sound appealing: serenity snowflake or dolphin peace, for example.
Gently repeat the phrase to yourself over and over again. Each time you say the phrase, exhale fully: this will help to embed it within your subconscious mind.
Practise this meditation for 5 minutes prior to going to bed. Pairing your inner suggestive voice with words of relaxation can help you let go of any negative thoughts about sleep.
You can also do this exercise at any time of the day when you want to feel stillness.
Master Your Dreams
If bad dreams disturb your sleep, try this exercise to make them more positive. It draws on the emotional brain training notion that creating healthier neural pathways can control our negative emotions and help us encourage more pleasure into our lives.
If you wake up aware of a dream that didn’t end well, consider whether you can think of a happier ending? Let’s say you see yourself being chased by a monster or hearing the thunder of hooves behind you as you desperately want to escape.
Ask your positive emotions to come up with a more satisfying ending – the creature runs away when you turn to face it, or you realise that those hooves belong to a beautiful stallion that will take you anywhere you want to go.
Then lie there breathe and re – imagine yourself into the scenario but give it your new happier ending.
Try writing down the dream with a positive ending, to help fix your mind. If you have a recurring dream, keep this by your bedside and read it before going to sleep.
Practise this exercise whenever you wake up from a bed dream. Know that you are able to step outside your dreams and be your own dream master.