It can be very challenging to unwind during stressful times, given our bodies inbuilt mechanisms to produce adrenaline, cortisol and other ‘energy’ chemicals during challenging times. However, Cheryl Fingleson of Sydney’s The Sleep Coach has some tips that could help you catch some zees despite the stress.
Findleson says with preparation, priority and practice a good night’s sleep is still totally achievable, no matter what the circumstances.:
Cheryl’s top ten tips for a good night’s sleep
1. Prioritise relaxation
In the evening hours, decrease stimulation. Dim the lights and slow things down. Do something relaxing, such as reading, practicing yoga, taking a bath or initiating happy conversations.
2. Quit caffeine by noon.
Caffeine can stay in your body for hours after consuming it. Caffeine’s effects vary from person to person, but in general, try completely eliminating it from midday onwards, or better yet, cut it out altogether.
3. Have a sleepy meal at dinnertime.
Eat foods containing nutrients that promote sleep, including tryptophan, melatonin and magnesium. At dinner, eat a combination of high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates. The internet provides a plethora of delicious options to try!
4. Have a firm bed time
Aim to go to bed around the same time every night. Cheryl recommends most adults aim for a 10pm to 6am routine.
5. Practice left-nostril breathing.
Block off your right nostril with your right thumb and take long slow deep breaths through your left nostril only. Left-nostril breathing has a soothing and relaxing effect on the body mind. In Kundalini Yoga, it’s suggested that you take 26 long, slow deep breaths in this manner to produce a relaxing effect on the mind and body.
6. Shift your perspective.
Examine any fear-based beliefs about sleep. Fearful thoughts create tension, hindering deep sleep. Cheryl recommends the affirmation, “I choose to relax and let go now.”
7. Play with lighting and sound.
Aligning our internal rhythms with those of nature sets us up for more restful sleep. Make a point to get exposure to sunlight during the day and in the evening, sleep in a very dark room.
8. Take a relaxation bath.
Water, salts and essential oils can be a balm for any stressed soul.
9. Try mediation, massage or another relaxation technique.
You can also try a progressive muscle relaxation or a guided meditation (available for free on the internet.) Ask a partner for a massage and practise gratitude.
10. Take relaxation breaks during the day.
Try taking at least one short relaxation break per day so that you’re not in a state of overwhelm by evening time.
Fingleson advises all her clients to take charge of their wellness and look into how stress might be affecting their sleep.
“By employing just a few of the above techniques, clients will notice a big change in their mental and physical health and sleep quality.”