Craving for a healthy sleep pattern? Then, why is that every night when we drag our exhausted body into bed and lay our tired head upon the pillow suddenly our mind bursts into action? It begins to go over all the events of the day or it starts worrying about everything that could go wrong tomorrow.
Shush brain, I’m trying to sleep!
Big or small, genuine worry or imagined concern, our brain will find something to fixate upon and suddenly sleep will be a distant dream. Only after hours of interminable tossing and turning will we eventually fall asleep. It’s basically a nightmare, and it happens every single night.
This chattering voice in your head at night is what your friendly neighbourhood buddhist monk would call the monkey mind. You can of course silence it with a handful of industrial strength sleeping pills but I would advise against that. Those little white tablets can get a bit moreish, if you know what I mean?!
Don’t despair, there are some natural alternatives to help clear your mind and to ensure a healthy sleep. Read on below and I’ll give you my top three.
Get yo’ list on
One incredibly powerful way to clear your mind before bed is to simple get a jumpstart on the things your mind is going to focus on by listing.
Listing is great. I make lists for everything. Sometimes I even make lists of lists! That might sound a little bit mad but it works.
Everynight before bed I spent 10 minutes making two lists. The first is a simple to do list for tomorrow. I write down everything I can think of that I need to take care of the following day and then I jot a number next to each one. The number corresponds to how important each item on the list is. I find by going through this process before I get into bed I no longer start doing it when my head is on the pillow.
The second list is a gratitude list, or what I call my ‘lucky list’. I write down the three things I feel grateful or lucky for from the day. It could be something big, like getting good news about a relative’s successful operation. Or it could be something small like finding a dollar or the floor. But focussing on the happy parts of the day just before bed works to put me in a better mood before light’s out.
Let’s go back again to our friendly neighborhood buddhist monk for a moment. If you were to ask him how to get rid of your monkey mind he would probably tell you that you can’t. He’s say that your little simian chatterbox is part of you whether you like it or not. All you can do is make friends with it. Once you’ve done that you’ll find the chattering is still there but it’s been turned down in volume to the level of general background noise.
Everyone is doing it – even Oprah! If it’s good enough for O, it’s good enough for us.
So how can you turn down the volume? Well, that’s when your buddhist buddy would tell you to take up meditating. I’m sure you’ve heard about meditating by now. It’s no longer just the preserve of long-haired hippies and shaven-headed monks, meditation has gone mainstream.
Sitting quietly with you own thoughts for as little as 10-15 minutes a day, will have a profound impact on how your view what’s going on in your head. You’ll soon learn just how random our thoughts really are. How quickly they come and go. Like clouds in the sky. Once you’ve accepted this, you’ll soon begin to pay less attention to those bedtime worries and sleep will come a lot, lot easier.
Make friends with Yoga
Study after study has shown that one of the best ways to have a healthy sleep pattern is to do more exercise. In today’s sedentary desk-based world, too few of us get sufficient exercise. We may feel tired at the end of the day, but it’s a different kind of tired. It’s the tired from commuting and too much stress. It’s not the endorphin-filled post exercise tired that helps us drift off to deep sleeps. Change that!
Any exercise will do but when it comes to pre-bed exercises, not all exercises are created equal. Going for a run just before bed will work for some but for others the adrenaline boost might keep them wired and unable to sleep. Yoga on the other hand is perfect.
Placing the body and mind in the ideal position for sleep.
The concentration on deep breathing and gentle stretching, gives the body a workout whilst simultaneously slower the heart rate and reducing blood pressure.
Well, there you have it healthy sleep fans, three techniques to clear your mind and improving your odds of having a good night’s rest, every single night. Best yet, all three were completely free and non required you to down a handful of sleeping pills.