Have you been experiencing the powerful effects of sleep deprivation lately? Even during "normal times," a good night's sleep can be difficult to come by. And right now, life is far from normal.
Recently, I've heard many you lament about your difficulties with sleep. Whether you wake up multiple times a night or you simply can't calm your mind at bedtime, many of you have expressed to me that you don't know what to do when you can't fall asleep.
There are many factors at play when it comes to losing sleep. The sun sets later these days as we are in the middle of summer and with so many people working from home, it can be tough to give yourself a healthy sense of work-life balance. If your place of work is your living room, how do you "turn the work off," so to speak? It can be difficult to relax and prepare your mind and body for sleep.
Despite the many stress-inducing challenges we continue to face during this time, we must try to prioritize rest. Sleep deprivation can at best, detract from your productivity, and at worst, cause many health issues. This is why we are discussing this topic in our third session.
We started the session with a discussion of why sleep is important which adds to last week's focus on how to set yourself up for a good night's rest with some sleep hacks. If you are still having trouble falling asleep and/or don't know what to do when you can't sleep, then today is for you!
FIVE WAYS TO FALL ASLEEP FASTER
1. Mind Dump
If you're like me, then you can't sleep because your mind will not shut off. Restless thoughts cause a whole unhealthy cycle of staying up past 10 o'clock, experiencing a second wind, falling asleep extremely late, and waking up to a miserable morning. You may also experience a similar pattern of falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night with your thoughts racing, and then struggling to fall back to sleep.
SLEEP TIP: One of my favorite tricks to avoid sleep deprivation is to write out all my thoughts - a mind-dump if you will. Grab a pen and paper or type your thoughts on one of your technological devices. By making a to-do list or reflecting on your day, you let these thoughts go and give your mind the opportunity to rest.
2. Massage Your Feet
There are many benefits to giving yourself a relaxing foot massage. Not only does this act of self-care feel good, but your feet have a powerful effect on the rest of your body.
You may have heard of a type of massage called reflexology. If you haven't, the massage technique is worth researching. Reflexology will ease tension because your feet map out to the rest of your body. If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, you may not want to give yourself a full body massage because of your exhaustion. However, if you can't sleep, a nice foot massage will relax your mind and body with relatively minimal effort.
SLEEP TIP: Massaging your feet can be done while sitting in bed using a warm oil for just a few minutes. This simple act of self-care gives you just enough time to relax and set yourself up for a good night's sleep.
3. Chant a Positive Mantra
We all have some kind of mantra playing through our minds during the day. If we repeat it enough, it becomes like our personal prayer. That mantra may take on many forms. From reminding yourself to take deep breaths to focusing on a goal, you can slow your thoughts and relax your body by gently repeating your personal prayer to yourself.
SLEEP TIP: If you sleep next to a partner, then making noise may disrupt them. Try and quietly focus on your mantra. If, however, you sleep alone or your partner is awake, try to hum or take deep breaths with your eyes closed. As you breathe, you will start to feel grounded and relaxed. You may also enjoy inviting your partner to join you.
4. Drink Spiced Milk
Although it may be a little too hot during the summer months, drinking warm spiced milk before bed helps you relax while boosting your immunity. According to Ayurvedic thought, Milk has a grounding quality that allows us to quell the hamster wheel of the mind. This quality will help you avoid sleep deprivation.
If you can't sleep, I recommend drinking a half cup of warmed milk with added grounding spices like nutmeg or saffron. Golden milk is another great option. And for those who are vegan, you can substitute with oat milk or another mylk (non-dairy) alternative. Although mylks are not as heavy, they still provide some of the qualities that can lull you back to bed.
"Cow milk has 10 properties viz. sweetness, coldness, softness, unctuousness, density, smoothness, sliminess, heaviness, slowness and clarity. These are also the properties of ojas. So milk having identical properties is conducive to the promotion of ojas. Thus, milk is an elixir par excellence." —Caraka Saṁhitā, Sū. 27/19
5. Listen to your body
If you are find yourself waking up early in the morning, then listen to your body's natural rhythm. Go with your flow instead of fighting it. While, I do not recommend getting up before 4 am if you do not have to, any time after is completely acceptable. This morning, I woke up around 3 am and laid in bed for an hour. I eventually decided not to fight it and got up. By starting my day early, I ended my day early, too.
SLEEP TIP: If you naturally wake up early, take advantage of that extra time. You can do a short workout, take a bath, watch the sunset, etc. Anything, after 4 am, is fair game!
TAKE ACTION TO END SLEEP DEPRIVATION
If you have not read or watched the videos from the last two sessions, I suggest doing so. There is lots of useful information about the importance of sleep as well as some hacks to help you avoid sleep deprivation. If you can't fall asleep, I invite you to try one, a few, or all of these 5 useful tips.
Here's a simple breakdown of these 5 helpful sleep hacks:
Keep a pad next to the bed for a mind-dump OR gratitude journal
Drink spiced milk
Listen to your body and just get up!