“Sleep well” is more than a good wish: sleeping well is crucial for our health. Quality Sleep helps us to function better, remember more, be more active when awake and even improve our outlook on life. Here are my tips for getting more quality sleep and a MoveList of my favourite classes that promote quality sleep.
We all know that a major cause sleeplessness is a racing mind, unable to settle, just focused on all of those things we could have done or should be doing. Yet quality sleep is something we need and crave, so here are my Top 7 Tips for quality sleep.
1. Learn to Love the Relax Hour
Settle yourself a good hour before you even think of going to bed. Turn off your electronics, take yourself away from your computer, don’t let yourself look at your phone and certainly not your social media accounts.
In the past I’ve made the appalling mistake of ‘just checking’ email before bed. Messages which you wouldn’t think twice about in the morning, that you’d deal with in a flash, can fill your head at midnight, causing a whir all night long.
Same with social media. You might just see one upsetting thing, or something that causes some excitement in your brain and there you go – say bye-bye to your night’s quality sleep.
It may be a cliche, but it works to run yourself a hot bath and have a good long bathe. That really will soak away your worries and prepare you mentally for the next stage in your day, which should be all about relaxation and sleep.
2. Learn some relaxing moves
I know that many of us don’t get back home from work until late, so we have to do our yoga in the time we have. For me, I used to do an intense Vinyasa or Ashtanga class in a studio starting at 7.30pm – 9pm. Then I’d be absolutely buzzing. After that I’d eat late then wonder why on earth I couldn’t sleep.
I would recommend doing a much more calm form of yoga in the evening. Something relaxing and nourishing. Ideally, I’d recommend a restorative or yin yoga class. But why not try different styles in the evening and see make a note of how they make you feel.
We have teamed up with yoga teachers who’ve been researching over the years the effect of certain movements, ways of breathing and ways of cultivating a peaceful frame of mind.
Our Ready for Bed classes are specially sequenced with moves and techniques especially for cultivating that sense of calm ideal before bed.
I would recommend the next part in your sleep-preparation routine would be after you have your PJ’s on and have brushed your teeth, to choose a short sleep-well video to stretch and release your way to a good night’s sleep. Why not turn the brightness of your computer down as you do the class, and mostly listen to the teacher rather than watching, so it minimises the effect of blue-light on your brain. I’ve made it easy to find my favourite ready for bed classes with a playlist so whether I pick the Andrea’s Relax and soothe into the Evening or Adam’s Evening Pause, Lucy’s Sleep Well or Max’s Inner Axis: Sleep health sequence, I know that 30 minutes is all it takes for me to be quality sleep ready!
3. Keep Your Cool!
We tend to sleep better when we’re slightly cooler at night-time than we would be in the daytime. A good way to prepare your body to cool down for the night is to have a hot bath before bed, as the body will feel cooler in comparison to the heat.
If you can, keep a window open for the fresh air to cool you during the night. Wrap up warm under the covers, but your face can keep cool in the open.
4. Get Dark
It’s been proven that a truly dark environment helps the sleeping process. So get dark – get blackout windows if needs be, or even indulge in an eye mask. They can be really relaxing of themselves, as it can feel very comforting to have an eye mask on. So why not try a luxurious, lavender-scented eye mask and get some seriously dark kip.
Always sleep with a journal by your bed so that any ‘useful’ thoughts you have during the night, or ground-breaking Eureka moments can be recorded and you don’t have to think about them any more.
Your journal is also really useful for writing your gratitude practice down before you go to sleep – it’s very hard to feel anxious/angry as well as grateful. So writing down 3 things for which you are grateful for before you go to sleep is a deeply relaxing and grounding practice, likely to result in a lovely relaxed state of mind and conducive of a good night’s sleep.
6. The Morning
I also think that what you do during the day has a big impact on how you sleep at night. Make sure that you do an hour’s exercise a day, and do some dynamic yoga during the morning. We have some lovely Morning Classes for you if you’re feeling a bit blurry-eyed and need a gentle-jolt to get moving in the day.
Also remember to get as much fresh air as you can during the day and take a brisk walk, cycle ride or a run every day, moving more in the air will help move any stagnant energy and your body will just feel so much better in the evening and ready for a good night’s sleep.
You may also want to read: Yoga for Stress and Anxiety: A Complete Guide
This post was written by founder of Movement For Modern Life, Kat Farrants.