When was the last time that you woke up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready for the day? If you don’t get enough sleep it can affect your mental health and wellbeing. Between 15-18% of Americans have sleep problems, if you are one of them, this lack of sleep greatly impacts how you function during the day.
Did you know though, that embracing your spiritual side can help you to achieve a good night’s sleep? Read below how turning off your mind and getting more in tune with nature and your spirituality before bed will be beneficial to your sleep.
Spirituality and Inner Peace
Spirituality is not about religion, it is, however, a concept that everything is connected. We are an important part of the world around us, and we have a meaningful existence. There is a power or force that is greater than us. Scientists have found that following a spiritual path makes us happier. By getting in touch with your spiritual side, you are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, and this directly relates to how well you sleep at night. If there are things in your life causing friction or worry, then you are less likely to sleep well.
We are holistic beings and when we put energy into improving one aspect of ourselves, the others benefit. It’s well known that both our mental and physical health can improve when we take time for our spirituality.
Tips for Better Sleep
Meditate in the Evening
Practicing meditation in the evening will help calm your mind after the stresses of the day and have beneficial physical effects such as a lowering your blood pressure. When you have a busy life, self-care is extremely important. After meditating your mind will have more focus, which will help you reflect and organize your thoughts from the day. An organized mind allows us to be more restful at the end of the day.
In 2015, a study was conducted at Harvard University which showed that people sleep better after meditating. Meditation is incredibly effective at making you feel relaxed and calm when you need it most. Meditation and spirituality go hand in hand because the more you practice, the more you may consider how you fit into the world around you.
Say Good Night to Modern Technology
Two hours before bedtime, turn off your electronic devices. These devices interfere with our body’s natural internal clock and inhibit the production of melatonin, which is essential for sleep. The blue light emitted by the screens on our devices is what stops our pineal gland from releasing the melatonin that makes us sleepy. Some people use blue-light blocking glasses or apps that dim their screens, but it’s not just the blue light that’s keeping you awake.
By using devices before you go to sleep, you are actually increasing your alertness, stimulating the brain at a time when you should be winding down for deep rest and dreams. This makes it more difficult not just to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep.
If you can’t sleep for a solid period of time, you won’t have as many REM (rapid eye movement) periods in the night. This contributes directly to how tired you are when you wake up, and you will feel drowsy the next day.
It is recommended also, to not have any lights in the bedroom. Even the lights on your clock can trick your brain into believing it is daytime. We sleep the best in complete darkness, so try have your room free of light pollution if you can.
Follow the Seasons
Consider what life was like a thousand years ago, when the sleep-wake cycle was governed by the fading light of the day and the phases of the moon. You are no different to people that lived then and the seasons and moon cycles are just the same.
Our body’s circadian rhythm is linked to the hours of sunlight. In the summer it is natural to wake earlier and go to bed slightly later. During the winter, however, when the days start to get shorter, you may find that you need an extra hour’s sleep every night in order to wake up feeling refreshed and happy. Before the 19th century it is believed that during the long winter nights, people would sleep for 4 hours, wake and meditate, talk and pray, and then go back to sleep for a further 4 hours, until sunrise, when the body wakes up fully. It is because of electricity the way we sleep and wake has changed over the centuries.
Write Your To-Do List for the Following Day
Many people find that they have difficulty falling asleep because their minds are too busy. This may be thinking of jobs that need doing or what tasks are coming up at work the next day. Before you go to bed make a list of the things that you need to do, just like a shopping list that you can tick off. It will help you get your mind organized and you will sleep better.
Let go of Regrets From the Day
While we can easily clear our minds from the next day’s tasks by writing them down, there may be other things on our mind keeping us from a peaceful sleep. Many people have trouble relaxing into sleep because they are re-living conversations that they may have had during the day, or perhaps thinking of things they wish they had said (or indeed hadn’t).
It is important to differentiate between the things that we can change, and do something about, and the things that we can’t. We can’t change what has already happened. So, to help yourself let go of any regrets you may have about your day, while you are getting ready for bed, visualise any regrets blowing away in the wind. Our mistakes aren’t worth dwelling on, learn from them, let them go, and start the next day fresh after a good night’s sleep.
Fall Asleep In the Right Frame of Mind
When you are falling asleep, think about the places where you feel most connected. For instance, many people have an affinity with the beach and the ocean, while others like the forest and river. You can listen to sounds of nature to help focus your breathing and slow your heart rate.
When you start to fall asleep, your brain activity changes, it is not an instant process, but instead a gradual change. You can use your thoughts to help move your brain and body through the passage of falling asleep quickly. Imagine yourself stepping into the warm sea for a swim. As you move in deeper, slowly relax each part of your body in turn, from your feet upwards. Feel them sinking into the bed and getting heavier.
Limiting your nighttime distractions and mental stresses is very important for a good nights sleep. Using meditation or visualization before bed and focusing on your inner thoughts will help you get a good night’s sleep and awaken the next morning feeling fresh and happy.
Photo: Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho