Have you been struggling with insomnia, or finding it harder to sleep lately? Research shows that one in seven (14%) Brits survive on dangerously low levels of sleep a night, under five hours, in fact. However, there are many solutions to help ensure the most effective sleep, ultimately leading to improved mental and physical health.
Samantha Snowden, Headspace Mindfulness and Meditation coach, understands deeper meanings into why we might not currently be getting the right amount of sleep needed, and suggests that meditation is the perfect way to get a bedtime routine established.
Samantha told us: “We need to reframe how we look at sleep…it is a reflection of everything in our lives, in our bodies. We have to accept it is affected by things we cannot control. Do not feel like you are doing anything wrong when we can’t sleep.
“It’s easy to turn on ourselves and blame ourselves for poor sleep when it’s often just genetic disposition that affects our sleep.
“Certain things happen in our brains as we move up through the years which makes it harder to fall asleep. We have so many busy thoughts. The momentum of our day shows up, whether we have been running around, been really active, so much of that busy-ness is there.
“It is so hard for the brain to execute this transition from busy to completely asleep. I love the phrase Sleep Hygiene. We think of hygiene for our bodies, but we don’t have a great understanding of how to maintain our sleep health in the same kind of way,” she says.
Reframe your approach to bedtime
Samantha says: “Spend time honouring your body’s efforts of the day, recounting your efforts. Give yourself a gold star for all the little things you managed to get done and recount the efforts of the day – how did they reflect persistence? Recognise strengths, reassure your anxious mind, as there is progress being made.”
“Meditate. When you’re going through lots of changes, there are more emotions and material to process. We often see sleep as a separate entity to our lives and, when it doesn’t work, we get angry. During times of transition, sleep is affected,” she adds. “We need to take time to process decisions. We all hate that feeling where we tell our minds to sleep and it just ramps up.”
To truly help optimise our sleep routines, Samantha has created a list of ideas to try:
- Actively sit down and plan a bedtime routine. Write down a few things you can do, create a night time routine – make a plan for how you want to wind down in the evening.
- Journal. Take some you time. Take time to journal, make proper decisions about how you are spending your free time. Drifting to sleep slows your brain down – in your head you have an argument with yourself, whereas when journaling, you can document your feelings.
- Samantha’s ‘Tucking In’ Content on the Headspace app. This makes you reflect on the past, present and the future and I’ve found it helps members massively when looking to wind down, she says.
- Come up with ‘Three points of Joy’. Think about what pinged you during the day, think about what is exciting you about tomorrow and this brings you back to the moment. Reflect first on something joyful about the past, then one about the present moment and finally anticipate a moment of joy the future will bring. Think of this as a bedtime cue, we need to sometimes tell our body that sleep is coming. Telling your mind it’s time to process what happened today, and what will happen tomorrow, gives it that container that allows it to happen tomorrow.
For more information on sleep, take a look at Headspace’s Sleep 101 app packed with information to help understand why sleep is so fundamental to our health and wellbeing.