It’s 4:00am. Eyes wide open. Nothing particular on my mind. But, here I am waking up before the roosters. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you have something eating away at you, or maybe you don’t. Sure, worries about life and carrying a hefty load of stress negatively impact sleep, but sometimes difficulty sleeping arises from something else. This could be hormonal fluctuations and natural bio-physiological cycles. It could also be because of behaviors that negatively impact sleep.
Everyone wants to get a good night of rest, waking up refreshed and alert, yet might we be doing things that prevent this from happening? Diet can have an impact as well as many other behaviors. In this blog, I will address sleep hygiene, which I consider a fundamental component of Dream Medicine. Maybe you’ve heard that term before. If this is new to you, consider sleep hygiene to encompass a variety of healthy practices—making behavioral and environmental adjustments—for solid, restful, good-quality sleep. Sleep hygiene supports dreamwork practices as well.
While millions of Americans report sleep disturbances, we have the power to change behavior and make adjustments for improved sleep outcomes. Professionals in the field of sleep medicine can also help. This is more important than one might think, as chronic sleep deprivation is associated with a long list of physiological and psychological problems as well as illness and disease onset. There are many good reasons to prioritize sleep, so below, I will offer ways to create a sleep hygiene practice…or at least get you started. Consider them all and then choose which you can implement immediately. Once comfortable with those, add to your sleep hygiene list.
Sleep hygiene begins before bed. An hour or two before bedtime, turn off, or avoid, all screens (TV, computer, cell phone), dim the lights in your home, then chose from the following activities:
- Take a warm shower or bath.
- Read a pleasant book.
- Enjoy a cup of herbal tea (Avoid caffeine or alcohol).
- Do some light stretching (Avoid cardio).
- Journal, or color just for fun.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Engage in relaxation techniques, either self-guided or recorded (autogenic exercises, self-hypnosis, yoga nidra or other form of meditation).
And in general:
- Turn the bedroom into a relaxation oasis. Get creative!
- Go to bed around the same time every night, preferably before 10pm. If you can’t fall asleep right away, just rest. A consistent sleep schedule sets the body’s internal clock. We ARE nature, so it’s always a good idea to connect with nature’s rhythms.
This can provide a solid starting point in supporting quality sleep. If you’ve practiced for several weeks, yet still find no improvement at all, consider consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor or Sleep Specialist.
When I experience poor quality sleep, I return to my sleep hygiene practices. More often than not, I am able to identify where I mostly likely have gone off track. It always okay to reboot, or rather, allow a compassionate, fresh start in support of living our best life!
At my Dream Medicine retreat held in British Columbia, Canada next month (May 10-14), attention will be given to Sleep Hygiene. Participants can share what’s worked best for them and what additional components of a sleep hygiene practice they’d like to add on to their personal lives.
While this retreat has met its minimum capacity, there is room for 3-4 more people at this time before maximum capacity is reached. So, if you’d like a true adventure, consider joining us. Learn more at https://hollyhock.ca/programs/5663/dream-medicine-a-conscious-dreamwork-retreat/