Have you ever had trouble sleeping? Is sleep management an issue?
We all want to have a good night sleep, right? In the morning, we want to feel rested and ready to take on the day, right? However, sometimes that does not happen and when it happens too often, it becomes an habit. As someone who has had much trouble to have good quality sleep over the years, I have set out to look into this a bit more. The interest started when I stumbled across a TED talk by Matthew Walker, an English scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. His TED talk is brilliant, very digestible (no jargon!) and if you have 20-30 minutes it is worth watching https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_walker_sleep_is_your_superpower?language=en
He explained clearly why we need to sleep and sleep well. Put simply, sleep is necessary for the normal functions of the brain and to keep a healthy neural system. The recommendation is unbroken sleep of 7 to 8 hours. Seriously? I felt lucky if I could get 6 hours (with a break in-between)! I will not go into the causes and factors that led to this, although they are important, I felt that addressing the issue before soon was more important, as some research showed a link between dementia and lack of sleep.
So, at that point my reaction was: I get the need to fix this - but how?
I got interested in Yoga Nidra , a type of yoga that promotes relaxation and yogic sleep. If you want to know more, check a previous blog HERE. I love the atmosphere created in a Yoga Nidra class, and I enjoy every minute of it. It does work well for sleep when someone gives a Yoga Nidra practice; so whilst I can teach, I can give the practice, it is not suitable for a self-practice – unless of course, I record my own Yoga Nidra and listen to my own voice, which could be a bit weird or disorienting!😳
Then, Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (www.kym.org) in collaboration with the Institute for Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine launched a series of monthly webinars on exploring yoga and Ayurveda based interventions in the management of illness. Their first one in December was on Insomnia and I signed up – the only snag was that the webinars started at 4.30am UK time to watch live. However, I got access to the recording afterwards, so small consolation if on a Sunday morning I was unusually still asleep at 4.30am! As usual, KYM came up trumps! Oils, bedtime routines, herbs, and other tips, like massaging the soles of the feet or the scalp with oils, drinking ghee or milk before bedtime. There is no one size fits all and these treatments are very individual.
So, what then? Where did this journey take me?
This is the present: I have set a regular bedtime and half hour before bedtime, I drink a cup of warm milk with honey (if my body cannot make enough melatonin to relax me and make me feel sleepy, then a bit of milk might help). I also try to resist the temptation to look at my iPad or phone late at night, and if I want to read, I will pick up a book or magazine instead. A bottle of lavender oil is on my bedside table, and I sprinkle a few drops on the pillow, every other night. It has worked for me; such small tweaks have had a remarkable effect and the quality of my sleep has improved – although not quite to the recommended 8 hours of unbroken sleep (😊)
More recently, I noticed that Horizon of BBC 2 is conducting a sleep census in the UK. So, I took part. I don’t know if I found reassuring to know that 25%-50% of the population struggles with sleep at some point of our lives. In any event, I got a score (which I won’t share here) in an email, with a few more pointers, tips, a sleep diary to keep for 2 weeks, as well as a pdf on the 5 Principles of good sleep health. If you would like to take part to the UK Sleep Survey and check your score, go to the UK Sleep Census You may need to sign in on the BBC website.
I also share below a link to Matthew Walker 6 tips for better sleep that can be found at https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_walker_6_tips_for_better_sleep?language=en
I hope it helps those of you who would like to have a better quality sleep!
Please feel free to comment or message me.