How To Support Restful Sleep & Sweet Dreams
A good night's sleep leaves us feeling nourished, refreshed, and energized: ready to go forth boldly and with natural enthusiasm into the new day. Why is this? When we sleep deeply, our body's "rest and repair" functions are activated—which means that a lot of the daily wear-and-tear simply (yet also quite miraculously!) heals itself.
So getting a good night's sleep is not only just pleasant—but also important. In terms of its role in our overall health and well-being, sleeping well is just as important as daily exercise and a healthy diet. This Business Insider article outlines a wide array of reasons why getting a good night's rest is essential. These include:
- Enhancement of overall physical health
- Increased mental focus and learning capacity
- Feeling happier, with a generally uplifted mood
- Having a more focused and creative mind
- Being safer, with fewer accidents (on the road or around the house)
- Supporting more intelligent decision-making (financial and otherwise)
- Setting the stage for better sex (whoo-hoo!)
Assuming these sorts of benefits are things that you value and would like to have more of in your life—your next question might be: How exactly does one go about improving the quality of their sleep? The following tips will get you started as you learn how to sleep better.
1. Eat an early dinner
When your body is still working hard digesting a large meal, falling asleep—and sleeping deeply—becomes more difficult. So if you're in the habit of eating a late dinner, try moving dinnertime to 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm. It will give you at least four or five hours to digest the meal fully before it's time to crawl into bed.
It's also good to avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, or soda) after 2:00 pm—so that most of the caffeine has left your body by bedtime. Drink herbal teas instead, in the late afternoon and evening: Chamomile, lavender, and peppermint are all great choices.
2. Install f.lux on all phones and computers
This free app makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day: warm at night and like sunlight during the day. It removes the blue light when the sun sets, so your circadian rhythms are not disrupted by using your computer into the evening hours. There is lots of research documenting the effects of late-night computer use on sleep patterns, and the usefulness of f.lux in resolving the issue.
"Recognizes that exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders, especially in children and adolescents. This effect can be minimized by using dim red lighting in the nighttime bedroom environment."
3. Invest in high-quality EMF protection
The health of our human nervous system depends upon its ongoing communication with the electromagnetic field of the Earth. The "smog" of human-made EMFs—which circulates invisibly in our environment as a result of our various WiFi devices—tends to disrupt this connection. EMF smog has adverse effects not only on our nervous system but also on our immune and endocrine system. It saps our energy, creates hormonal havoc, and disrupts our sleep cycles.
The good news is that EMF protection devices—such as Earthcalm's Home Protection System—can reverse these effects, and restore harmony to our sleep cycles. These easy-to-use devices plug into the AC/DC sockets of your home; or are worn as pendants or bracelets; or are attached to your WiFi devices, to transform toxic human-made EMFs into a healing field.
4. Enjoy a ten-minute breath meditation right before bed
You can do this either sitting up or lying down in your bed. Bring your attention to the movement of your breath, merely observing how inhalations and exhalations follow one after the other. Listen to the sound that the inhalation makes, as it moves into and out of your body. Maybe you'll also be able to feel how your lungs, ribcage, and abdomen expand with the inhalation and relax again with the exhalation.
If you'd like, you can coordinate your breathing with the silent internal repetition of this lovely practice-poem, written by the meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. As you inhale, silently say the first word of the pair; then as you exhale, quietly say the second word of the couple. When you've completed all four lines, you can stop—or start again at the beginning:
- In ~ Out
- Deep ~ Slow
- Calm ~ Ease
- Smile ~ Release
5. Practice yoga sometime during the day
If you have time for just one yoga pose, Viparita Karani (legs-up-wall pose) is a great one. Spending only five or ten minutes daily in this position has all sorts of health benefits, including helping you to sleep better.
If you feel interested in doing a bit more yoga, try a restorative yoga class, which is explicitly designed to harmonize and calm the nervous system. Taking a restorative yoga class just once or twice a week can have profound effects on the quality of your sleep.
6. Think of things you're grateful for, as you're falling asleep
Sometimes, it's an overactive "spinning" mind that prevents us from falling asleep at night. We ruminate about the past, worry about the future, and generate all kinds of theories about what is or is not happening in our lives. One way to calm the mind is to give it something more productive to do. And thinking about everything we're grateful for is a beautiful choice. So when you're ready to go the sleep, bring to mind something that you're thankful for, and smile gently. Then think of another thing you're grateful for, and let this image draw forth a gentle smile. Continue like this, taking the energy of gratitude into your dream-time.
A gentle smile, in and of itself, has deeply healing effects on the biochemistry of our body. Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that help to reduce stress. It also increases levels of feel-good chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. The serotonin acts as an antidepressant, and the endorphins as a natural pain reliever—so both will quite naturally enhance the quality of your sleep and the sweetness of your dreams.