Better sleep, better life! When you sleep well, you are not only healthier, but happier, too. And when you are healthier and happier, you are able to create stronger relationships, bring about stronger manifestations in your life, and enjoy increased productivity.
But how do you fall asleep fast, rather than lying there with hundreds of thoughts running through your mind? Try out these suggestions for quick and restful sleep.
1. Make a To-Do List
Making a short to-do list and sticking to it helps decrease the anxiety of what you feel needs to get done tomorrow. When your mind is focused on the future, it creates a feeling of unease, and unnecessary adrenaline can take over your senses. This is why you may feel tired but when you go to lay down your head, you feel wide awake. Your anxiety is telling you that your mental to-do list is urgent. If you check off only three items on a daily list, you feel much more accomplished and relaxed.
- A handwritten list is best.
- Keep your list at five or less tasks.
- Make this part of an evening routine.
2. Journal and Detach
Journal about your day before it’s time for bed, perhaps during your to-do list time. Start by reflecting over your accomplishments, what you may do differently next time around, and what you may be beating yourself up about.
Your mind replays the day, often with more worry and regret than compliments. You are your own worst critic. You may be concerned about a coworker taking something you said wrong or relentlessly replaying something in your mind that someone said to you. More often than not, the other individual has long forgotten. These are the recordings your brain plays over while you would love to be asleep. Conquer these thoughts long before bedtime with just a few minutes of writing.
- Write down what you are proud of today.
- Express anything that you feel uneasy about.
- Affirm that you have done all you could for today and capture what lessons were learned.
- List one thing you have been grateful for that day.
Once you are finished, consciously affirm you have detached these emotions and welcome rest.
3. Eat Your Largest Meal Mid-Day
Ayurveda teaches that you should eat your largest meal during Pitta time. This would be between 10am to 2pm. Some may focus on these times to help with weight control, but it is also beneficial to your sleeping patterns. When you consume large amounts of food before bed, you are asking your digestive system to work harder while you want to be sleeping. It sounds contradictory because it is. You are asking your body to have two opposite tasks going simultaneously.
- Eat a light evening meal.
- If you can't hold out late at night, eat foods easy to digest.
- Also with food and digestion, you must be aware of your caffeine (avoid after 2 p.m.) and water (avoid two hours before bed) cut-off times.
If you are accustomed to sleeping with a television or radio on, this may take some practice but it will be worth your effort. Sleeping in total darkness is best for a deep sleep. Although your eyes are closed, they still pick up on flashing lights or bright lights from a radio or clock. Of course, using an alarm clock is a good idea but covering the lights will help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
5. Do Aromatherapy Before Bedtime
A couple hours before you go to bed, begin your aromatherapy routine. A few oils that work great for relaxation are Valerian, Lavender, Orange, Roman Chamomile, or Ylang Ylang. Try a few oils to see what may work best for you. Ask your distributor to smell the oils before purchase so you can choose what you enjoy most.
Once you select your essential oils, try the following options:
- Using a diffuser.
- Adding a drop to a bath or shower.
- Placing a cast-iron pot with water and a couple drops of oil on your wood-burning stove or fireplace.
- Placing a dab on the bottom of your feet or wrist. Be sure to dilute in a carrier oil before placing most oils directly to the skin.
6. Try Visualization
We have all heard the term “counting sheep” as a tactic to use to help fall asleep. Well, maybe sheep does not work so well for you, but what does? What comes easy to you?
Play around with various visualization techniques, places, experiences, shapes, numbers, and colors. When you darken your room, this process may become easier. Without the interference of those flashing or bright lights, your consciousness has more room for imagination. Start with colors and numbers since those are so easy for humans to recognize. They are two of the first things humans learn as small children. Try counting slowly while envisioning the matching number with your inner eye. As you progress, move on to new scenes.
As a final thought, release any guilt you may feel for sleeping. You may feel that being an adult has countless responsibilities and with that can also come guilt for self-care. If your body is sleeping in on your days off, it is needed and it's OK. The healthier and happier you are, the better you serve the world around you.
Experience profound rest by attuning to the natural rhythms of your body at the Chopra Center’s Perfect Health, a six-day Ayurvedic cleanse retreat. Learn More.