The majority of us have had battles with sleep at some point during our lives, not sleeping, not getting enough sleep, poor quality sleep, broken sleep…our modern busy lives don’t help, shift work patterns, overstimulation, wakeful children, stress, and worry don’t make it easy to get a good night's sleep.
A couple of years ago I was struggling to sleep, I was not in the best health, constantly tired, barely coping with running a business, managing a household and raising two children…I desperately wanted to sleep but every night when I went to bed PING! I’d be wide awake, my wired brain racing away…and laying awake night after night awake whilst everyone else seemingly sleeps is the loneliest most miserable place in the world. Getting up everyday feeling more exhausted than the day before.
I knew I had to capture sleep, trap that elusive state of being able to fall asleep and own it. I had to get my sleep house in order. How did I do it?
Allowing myself downtime before bed, low lighting and no electronics, no alcohol, no caffeine after midday, no chocolate, just drinking camomile tea in the evening these things set the scene. But what really helped was revisiting the practice of Yoga Nidra, a discipline I’d learnt on my yoga teacher training but never really needed before!
In yoga classes, this is often taught through guided meditation. However, I needed to do this for myself at home without traveling to class, I used the techniques I’d learned to mentally scan my body and allow all activity to switch off. Starting by deepening my breath and finding my natural at rest breathing rhythm. I scanned my body from the feet up, acknowledging the presence of my toes and feet appreciating their capacity for movement but allowing them to switch off and mentally withdrawing from that area…by actively removing the focus that was once there you allow a release from activity to occur. Gradually each part of your body becomes heavier and a deep acceptance of inactivity occurs, once you have scanned your whole body you can turn your attention to your mind, again acknowledging its activity but giving yourself permission to not engage and disconnect. For me this practice is best achieved in a room with no distractions, I need to be warm a soft blanket covering helps, withdrawing from all the senses, no music, no light or sight (eye mask on), no scent, no taste or touch. The sense of rest is profound, leaving me refreshed, it taught my body & mind how to fall asleep again and how to arrive at that space between consciousness and sleep. It also taught me a lot about myself…