How to Sleep Well
December 9, 2021
During this most wonderful time of the year, seasonal depression and anxiety around the holidays can make it almost impossible to get a good night's sleep. Mimi Le, yoga instructor at our Chelsea location, gave us some crucial tips for sleeping sound this winter.
We can truly look at sleep as a magical part of the 24-hour cycle where we not only rest, but we detox, heal and restore. Sleep acts as a healing balm for our physical, mental and emotional health. With good sleep hygiene we can find ourselves rewarded with rejuvenative qualities, a supported immune system and greater overall enjoyment connecting to our day-to-day life with ease and satisfaction.
In yoga practice, we can observe the inhale and the exhale as companions where one not only supports, but also relies on the other. Similarly, the day can be seen as one long inhale and the night as one long exhale, each affecting and offering reflection to one another. So a better night's sleep actually starts with the day, which follows a rhythm into the night — what you consume during the day (food, lifestyle choices and relationships), you digest at night.
Cultivating a sleep awareness practice can start with making small mindful changes during the day to help create space for improved sleep at night. And over time, the improvements in your sleep practice will naturally develop into experiences of deep profound rest.
Here are some tips that you can practice incorporating into your daily routine.
Start small and go from there. Making one nudge during the day for improved sleep is enough to set the right intention for your sleeping habits to naturally align for your own unique needs.
1. Receive sunlight
Stepping outside for sun and fresh air supports our life force energy, while making a connection to the very same elements from which we are made. If the sun is out when you wake up, it's a good opportunity to receive a boost of mood-lifting serotonin levels, even if just for 10 mins. Early morning sun is best.
2. Intentional pause
Find calm and balance in your day; make time for mindful breathing, a mindful cup of herbal tea, or a restorative pose like supported savasana*; especially if you've been sitting in a chair all day.
*Lying down in supine position with your back to the ground, propping the legs up on a chair or couch with knees bent and backs of calves supported. Place a folded towel or blanket behind the back of your head if needed - forehead should align with chin.
3. Pranayama/Breath awareness
Using the breath as our anchor is an accessible pathway to better sleep. It allows us to quiet the mind and prepare our bodies to support the down-regulation of the nervous system. The Humming bee breath or 4-7-8 breath can help to soothe the nerves and bring oxygen to organs and tissues for restful sleep.
- Humming bee: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/5-ways-to-practice-bhramari
4. Gratitude for the day
Before bed, practice gratitude for your day. Depression or anxiety can pull us away from the present and simple moments that are life affirming. Bringing your awareness to one thing you are grateful for from the day can create a sense of grounding, warmth and acceptance.
Bonus tips for good sleep hygiene
- Depending on your unique physiological blueprint, 7-9 hrs of sleep is ideal, but aim for quality of sleep over quantity
- Wake up at the same time every day even if your bedtime hour changes
- Expose yourself to bright natural light during the day
- Keep your bedroom cooler than warmer for sleep
- Media, technology, and blue screen lights stimulate the senses; try logging off of your devices one-hour before bed
- Reserve your bed only for sleeping — no work or reading
- Do not binge on sleep during the weekend
- Align with nature as best as you can
- Make peace with yourself during the day to rest well at night
Take class with Mimi in Chelsea Take our Sleep Workshop in Chelsea