Going to sleep means to hand over the bodily business to our subconsciousness. What happens when we go to sleep? Subconsciousness drugs our body, puts it to sleep, and then goes to work. It does three things: it regenerates bodily energies, repairs cell tissues (cells multiply faster while we slumber, facilitating the replacement of outworn cells), and integrates experiences into our subconsciousness and body to turn those into understanding. That’s why we sometimes wake up in the morning and the solution to a problem pops up in our mind – seemingly out of nowhere.
According to Stress in America, a study of the American Psychological Association, more than half of all Millennials admit not being able to sleep at least once a month and that doesn’t include delayed sleep due to stress. The smoother we transit from self-conscious to subconscious management, the easier we fall asleep. The key is obviously surrender and surrender requires relaxation. And what do we surrender? Conscious thinking and feeling of course. So, how to cease thinking and feeling, how to stop our internal dialogue? The greatest minds in human history have pondered this question. Lao Tze even went so far to claim that a completely still mind is so powerful that the entire universe surrenders to it. Well, we don’t need to go that far, calming down the mind is already good enough for a rejuvenating sleep. Here are a couple of tricks that help:
#1: Don’t carry on working until late night. Leave work at work. Avoid procrastinations and finish the things you have to do during the day. Prioritize and sacrifice if necessary. Working late at night is not only unhealthy but also inefficient, your performance may decrease by as much as 75%. It kinda fries your brain too and the next day your mind won’t be up to speed. Mind that it’s impossible to shut out stress suddenly, you need to let it slowly fade.
#2: Set a bedtime. What’s good for your kids, is also good for you. Subconsciousness is a creature of habit, if you stick to a particular bed time, it will set your body’s internal clock accordingly.
#3: This is obvious, but needs a regular reminder: don’t drink coffee at night. The same holds true for energy drinks, tea, soft drinks and anything else containing sugar.
#4: This is also obvious, but needs a regular reminder too: get comfy. The bed must feel right and the blanket neither too warm nor too cool. The room temperature should be between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. Make sure there is sufficient fresh air in the room and it’s quiet enough. Pillows shall not be too high nor too low, a tilted neck decreases blood circulation to your brain. Last but by no mean least: make sure your bedroom is clean. Lightning is also essential, some people sleep best when its pitch black, some enjoy a dim light. This may also change; for example, in case of headache or migraine light is more disturbing than usual, however, leaving on the light sometimes can do the trick.
#5: So, here you are: you de-stressed before going to bed, you stuck to your bed time, you’re feeling comfy, and you stayed away from coffee. Even your body feels sleepy or tired, but when you close your eyes, your mind is wide awake. It thinks and feels all sorts of things, reminisces about the day, and worries about the future – there’s no way you can fall asleep. What to do? The solution is a bedtime ritual. This is how you calm down your thinking: in your mind, review your day and classify your experiences: good and bad, failures and successes, happy and sad events, etc. In particular, list all the things you appreciate that happened during the day. When you’re done, still your feelings: in case you quarreled with someone make sure to make amends, never carry a quarrel into sleep! Call or text him or her if necessary. Last but not least, relax your body. Begin with a breathing exercise. Breathe in slowly, hold your breath, and breathe out slowly. Count and find the rhythm that works best for you. This is an ancient breathing technique hat has been in use for thousands of years in India. Next, relax your muscles with your mind. Go from one body part to another (feet, legs, butt, hips, and so on until you reach the head) and mentally tense and relax one body part after another.
These advices should work most days. In case you had an extra-ordinary stressful day, you can try the following additional measures:
- Take a warm/hot shower or bath an hour before bed time
- Stretch your body thirty minutes before bed time (gentle Yoga stretches)
- Use aromatherapy. Find the scents that work best for you.
- Listen to relaxing music or sounds.
- Hug someone or something.
- Create a pleasant view, like a beautiful painting or relaxing images on a digital photo frame
Featured image attribution: copyright: evdoha / 123RF Stock Photo