The need for sleep is not a novel concept, it’s something our bodies know that they need. Sleep helps us recover from the day, heal our tissues, manage pain and the list could go on. Good sleep is a nonnegotiable to be healthy and thriving. Because of its necessity to basic human functioning, finding any way to help you sleep is of the utmost importance.
There are some really basic steps you can take to help train your body to get a good night’s rest, it can be like mastering a skill. There are many ways to go about it but some easy suggestions are laid out really well in this video by Matt Walker. Within his suggestions he talks about the need for a “winding down time”. This is the time you take right before getting into bed to calm your mind and body.
The reason this wind down time is so important is because it helps prepare your body physically and mentally for sleep. During the day we need to be awake and aware so that we can take on any task that comes our way. But before bed we have to turn that awareness off and allow our bodies to feel calm. We want to see our heart rates go down, our blood pressure go down and our breath to slow so that our nervous system can down regulate and shift into lower gear. We call that down regulation of your nervous system your parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the system helps you sleep, helps your body process food and repair from the day.
In our crazy fast paced lives it really important that we spend time in the process so that we can refuel for the next day to do it all over again. The purpose of this blog is to give you ideas for you to use in your wind down time that might not have thought of before.
Give these a shot!
Put your feet up on a wall
Modification: Laying on your back with your feet on a high platform like a stack of pillows, couch or coffee table.
This position uses the assistance of gravity to help the blood from your legs flow to your heart with little effort of your cardiovascular system. This in turn, will reduce your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and help you get into that parasympathetic system. Add in some deep diaphragmatic breathing and you will really feel relaxed.
Supplements can be so helpful in encouraging the natural processes already established in your body with elements it is familiar with. Magnesium is found in the body and has an effect on the hormones that regulate and promote activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Taking the supplement in the form of a capsule or drink before bed can help aid your body in this natural process and help prepare your body for sleep. For a little more detail on how this works you can read more here in this article by healthline.com.
Listen to a bedtime story from Bob Ross
When trying to sleep the more we can encourage a calm mind, the fewer barriers you will have in your way for a good night’s rest. Worries about tomorrow and busy thoughts keep our brain on high alert, making it really hard to fall asleep. Things like guided meditation or bedtime stories told with a calming tone help turn your brain away from the stress of the day and mellow out enough to fall asleep. There are many resources out there you can find both free and paid subscriptions. The Calm App has a huge library of stories told by anyone from Bob Ross to Scottie Pippen to help lull you to sleep.
We hope these suggestions are helpful for you in mastering the skill of a good night’s rest. Put these into practice as your night time routine just as regularly as you brush your teeth, your brain and your body will thank you for it.