A deep relaxing sleep is powerful – it heals you; it rejuvenates your mind, body and spirit. You feel like a brand new person as you wake up, full of energy to take on the day ahead. On the other hand, a bad quality sleep leaves you feeling tired, lethargic and uninspired.
The fact remains that in this day and age, a deep relaxing sleep is elusive to many. Many of us spend hours tossing and turning in bed and some even have to resort to popping pills to get some kind of shut eye that used to come so naturally to us as kids. Lack of physical activity, staring at screens for long hours, consuming processed foods, an overactive mind and a stressful lifestyle are some of the many things to blame for this bad state of sleep we experience.
So how do we remedy this situation? Is there a secret solution to get our natural sleep back?
We reached out to some of the best coaches and experts in the field of mindfulness, meditation, and natural health, asking them to share one power tip that they thought was the answer to this problem. And we got some powerfully insightful responses. Here they are..
Tip #1: Move Your Body
Shared by Debbie Hampton
Every aspect of your life is affected by sleep – or lack of it, from looking and feeling your best to your having a healthy romantic relationship to meeting your goals at work. But in today’s fast-paced, multi-media, mega-worry world, it’s hard to get enough shut-eye with all the daily to-dos.
My best advice for getting more and better quality sleep is to move your body every single day. The human body was meant to move. Physical activity improves sleep by helping to synchronize circadian rhythms, reducing stress, decreasing REM sleep (too much isn’t good), and causes many favorable neuro-chemical changes in your brain.
However, exercising too close to bedtime can rev you up and keep you awake. Vigorous exercise is best in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing activity, like yoga, can be done before bed without any problem usually.
Tip #2: Eat Foods Rich In Magnesium
Shared by Sharee James
Difficulty falling asleep is fundamentally a difficulty in being able to relax. With our stressful, fast-paced lives, most of us have an excess of cortisol – the stress hormone – circulating in our systems which keeps our brains and bodies on high alert,and makes a good night’s sleep frustratingly elusive.
One very effective way of making sure that your cortisol levels are not swinging to excess, is to make sure you have adequate levels of magnesium in your diet at all times.
Besides being involved in more than 300 vital enzyme processes, magnesium is the ‘relaxation mineral‘. As well as helping our muscles to relax and keeping cortisol in check, magnesium repairs the protective myelin sheath around our nerves – much like re-insulating a live wire – the perfect antidote when you are feeling irritable, uptight and ‘wired’.
Unfortunately, a huge portion of the population is chronically low in magnesium. Not only are modern diets lacking in this important mineral, but ongoing stress as well as coffee, sugar, salt and alcohol consumption all increase urinary losses of magnesium.
Telltale signs and symptoms of deficiency include: muscle cramps, tremors, twitching eyelids, restless legs, poor sleep, sensitivity to light and noise, irritability, muscle tension, headaches and anxiety to name just a few.
While increasing your consumption of seaweeds, leafy greens and nuts can provide a boost in dietary magnesium, if you suffer from any of the above symptoms, a supplement is recommended. Magnesium supplements can come in various forms, for maximum absorption, a powder or a liquid form is ideal.
Also, taking magnesium in the form or orotate, amino acid chelate, citrate or aspartate is preferable to the cheaper (poorly absorbed forms) of magnesium carbonate, oxide, sulfate or gluconate. Look for a supplement that give a daily dose of between 400 – 1000mg.
So before resorting to more drastic measures such as sleeping tablets, give magnesium a try – after a few weeks of consistent supplementation you will feel like a new person!
Tip #3: De-clutter Your Bedroom Environment of Electronic Devices
Shared by Tammi Hoerner
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 40 million men and women suffer from sleeping disorders. It is no surprise then that this is an issue for most of my clients. There are many reasons why a person might suffer from lack of quality sleep, but there is one sleep killing habit that has been consistent across almost all of my clients who express they suffer from lack of quality sleep – and that is ‘technology’.
The modern bedroom landscape includes electronic clocks, cell phones, tablets, televisions, and laptops all which may support habits of web browsing, reading electronic books, playing video games, status updates, and watching your favorite programs into all hours of the night.
Studies have found that the light emitted from any screen (television, tablet, or computer) interferes with your body’s ability to produce melatonin. This hormone controls your sleeping and waking cycle. Alongside this direct interference, keeping your devices nearby may trick your mind into wanting to stay alert, so you don’t miss anything.
The greatest tip I have for improving sleep is to evaluate your bedroom environment and remove as many electronic devices as possible. Charge your phone and tablet in another room and switch from ebooks to paper books. I suggest turning all electronic devices completely off as much as 60 minutes before sleep.
Tip #4: Practice Insight Meditation
Shared by Bert Luchjenbroers
My answer to this question is to practice Insight Meditation (vipassana). The condition or basis for sleep deprivation, is an uncontrolled mind vacillating with thoughts. Insight meditation can help bring control to the mind.
The technique for Insight Meditation is simple. Only the discipline to practice is required. From the first breath of beginner meditation or Anapanna practice, soul energy flow is increasing that will sharpen, discipline and increase the sensitivity of the mind. When in the early stages in particular the effort of disciplined practice will induce a significant tiredness that will allow you to achieve very good sleep results. This is because all the poisons and toxins that have been released with the increased energy of meditation need to be removed from the body with sleep.
Artificial aids like sleeping tablets treat the symptoms but do not remove underlying causes. Whenever underlying causes are not removed the health condition will always become worse or deteriorate overtime. With Insight meditation practice you will not only sleep better but you will also create better circumstances for your next incarnation. In the peace of understanding may we all dwell.
Tip #5: Practice Relaxation Meditation
Shared by Kimberly Wulfert
Sometimes people confuse meditation and relaxation meditations; they are not the same thing. The brain state of meditation is an active mind with a relaxed body, and relaxation meditation puts the mind and body into a relaxed state. Getting the type of meditation you do before bed or when you wake up at night can make all the difference.
Relaxation meditations are the type to do before bed. They are usually guided by someone else so that you can follow and drift into the visualization they present.
My most surprising tip to students is to meditate in the morning or by lunch at the latest. You feel energized, awake, yet calm, and your mind is cleared of extraneous thoughts and worries. This isn’t the state of mind you want to be in before going to bed. In fact, beginning students who take my class because they have insomnia, often find that after 4 weeks of meditating five to 15 minutes a day (they are beginners) their insomnia is gone or nearly gone.
Tip #6: Practice Stillness
Shared by Anandi – The Sleep Guru
Sleep is not at all complicated. If you are in balance, you will sleep well. If you are out of balance you won’t!
A balanced lifestyle needs to contain some time for stillness each and every day. Spend 30 minutes connected to the breath and your mind and nervous system will calm down. Only a calm mind sleeps well.
Tip #7: Avoid Staring At Screens Before Sleep Time
Shared by Anshu
My one tip is to not watch TV or to stare at any screen that emits blue light for at-least an hour before going to sleep as it interferes with melatonin production.
And meditate laying down for 10-20 minutes, focusing on the breath and with every exhale allowing the body to relax esp the tension spots like shoulders, neck and jaw. If mind is thinking about todo lists for the next day then write them down instead of letting them disturb the peace of mind.
Tip #8: Stop ‘Trying’ to Sleep
Shared by Oli Doyle
My best advice is to stop trying to get to sleep – the struggle itself will leave you more stressed and upset – making sleep less likely.
Instead, take your attention inside and feel yourself breathing in and out, focusing on the physical sensations of each breath. Stay with this practice until either you fall asleep or the morning comes, and enjoy this time to meditate and rest, which most people don’t get time to do.
Tip #9: Clear Your Mind Before Sleep Using A Writing Exercise
Shared by Cheryne Blom
Sleep is the foundation of wellness and a good night’s sleep will set up the clarity and groundedness you need for your day. Having a great “going to bed” routine helps to ensure you go into a restful sleep which completely relaxes your nervous system, your cardiovascular system, your musculoskeletal system and your adrenal system. A good night’s sleep will also help restore and rebuild your immune system.
I recommend doing a brief writing exercise which helps you let go and clear your day. This writing exercise includes what you feel you have accomplished and what you feel most proud of yourself for, as well as gratitude and appreciation for your day and a recognition of lessons learned. This helps you clear your mind, let go of the day and wipe the slate clean. By clearing your mind, you can help release the inner chatter, which is what keeps us awake and restless.
And my number one recommendation is to listen to a guided meditation which focuses on deep restful sleep. This helps focus your mind on relaxation, it helps your body soften and release tension or emotion which built up in your body and most importantly, it helps to silence to inner chatter. There are fantastic guided meditations online which focus on sleep meditation and here is one from my meditation podcast, Peace in My Pocket, which will help you let go of your day, clear your mind and settle into a peaceful, restful and most importantly deep sleep.
Tip #10: Use Essential Oils to Enhance Sleep
Shared by Jen Broyles
Often times, when we have trouble sleeping, it’s due to overwhelming stress from our day or anticipation of a stressful day ahead. We can’t relax, unwind, and shut down our mind. We’re plagued with racing thoughts of to-do lists, emails, work projects, and kid’s schedules.
The key to a restful night’s sleep is prioritizing stress-management and taking time to wind down at night. I recommend turning off all electronics (phone, computer, TV, etc) 1-2 hours before bed. During that time, incorporate activities that help you relax such as deep breathing, meditation, journaling, reading, or a relaxing bath.
To enhance relaxation and support restful sleep, I suggest using essential oils. The aromatic use of essential oils has a profound effect on stress and mood, helping you to relax and unwind. Diffuse oils such as lavender, vetiver, chamomile, orange, or bergamot in your bedroom at night.
Take an epsom salt bath with a few drops of lavender or vetiver. You can also apply these oils to the bottom of your feet or a drop on you pillow before bed. Taking time to unwind and using essential oils to support relaxation can be a powerful, effective way to improve your sleep and feel better overall.
Tip #11: Explore And Uncover What You Are Avoiding Addressing In Your Life
Shared by Jackie Roberge
I find that people often either can’t fall asleep or wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. If this is what you are experiencing, you may want to ask yourself what you are hiding from. A frequent cause of this type of insomnia is an overactive mind that is pre-occupied with something.
When you go to sleep at night everything gets quiet. This gives your sub-conscious mind (or your soul) a chance to be heard, that whisper that says ‘you don’t like your job, why are you staying?’ or ‘you are unhappy in your current relationship, you need to express yourself and get help’. Your soul speaks through silence but your ego gets annoyed with these whispers so it keeps you busy all day and encourages you to stay up late so that you are so tired you almost just drop off to sleep.
Well unfortunately, your soul or inner guidance is tenacious. It really wants what is best for you and it wants to be heard so it will keep trying – for instance through dreams or waking you up in the night with its persistent whispers.
My tip is therefore to start to explore and uncover what you may be avoiding addressing in your life – here are some ideas to get you started:
- Start a journal. Write whatever comes up for you, the messages from your soul and the often resistant or stubborn paroles of your ego.
- Keep a journal next to your bed so you can write down thoughts, insights or concerns when they arise – that way they stop circulating in your mind.
- Take time to get quiet during the day, maybe at the end of a meditation and simply ask your soul what message it has for you. Write it down because if your ego does not agree or feels threatened by the message it will help you forget it!
- Once you get some clarity around what needs addressing in your life and what the concerns of your ego are, then you need to move towards resolution. Get help if you need it, friends, family, a coach or therapist – there are people out there who can assist you!
Tip #12: Get Connected To Your Spirit Body
Shared by Mahima Klinge
I believe that when we know who we are in the real core beyond the ego, taking care of the body becomes something we love to do and get pleasure from. So my secret to deep sleep is simple in concept.
Find out who you are beyond your name, age, status, culture and so forth. Most of us are told to focus on the ‘mind body’, so at some point we get disconnected from our ‘spirit body’. Spirit, soul, God self, divine part of us needs to have more space in our daily lives.
Meditation is the best tool to help you connect to that part of your being. ANY amount of time spent looking inward and getting connected to the part of you that is whole and not broken, that is calm and not chaotic, that is open and powerful, is time well spent.
So start with a meditation teacher before you try cracking on with it yourself. The advantage of having a meditation mentor is that they are where you want to be, and they know how to get you there. A teacher will not only show you how to meditate but most importantly they will help you answer the question, ‘who am I’? When you are clearer about this, sleep will never be an issue again, as you will know how to disconnect from the restless mind, that feels scared, limited and ungrounded.