Do you have sleep anxiety?
Do you go to bed only to lie awake with thoughts swirling through your mind?
Do you dread bedtime knowing that you should be able to fall asleep but just can’t?
Are you able to fall asleep but wake up at 2 or 3 unable to fall back to sleep?
Or perhaps you wake up after what seems to be 8 good hours only to find that you are still sleepy and not well rested.
The answer to sleep anxiety might be mindfulness.
Paying attention to how you get ready for bed is essential for good sleep.
Mindfulness means paying attention to how you do things in a non-judgmental way. Approaching your sleep with non- judgment is important. Self-criticism is a sure way to bring on anxiety. Instead, be gentle with yourself. We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. When you hear the voice of judgment and criticism gently ask it to go away.
In this article, I want to share with you what works for me and my clients.
I am an Alexander Technique teacher. The Alexander Technique is a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move, think and live better.
People come to me for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they are in pain, maybe they want to learn how to move better, maybe they are anxious and often times they have difficulties sleeping.
Here are the things I teach my clients so that they can overcome sleep anxiety.
- Pay attention to bedtime and when you wake up. Go to bed at the same time every night even on weekends. Wake up at the same time every morning this means Saturday and Sunday too! You have an internal clock called your circadian rhythm. It regulates when you have more energy, less energy when you go to sleep and when you wake up. You need to keep this clock on time and work with it. When you go to bed and wake up at irregular times you mess with your clock. So don’t mess with your clock instead honor it and cultivate it and you will sleep better!
- Pay attention to physical activity. Fit exercise into your day. You don’t have to go all out and go to the gym or run 5 miles but just do something. Go for a walk. You can walk every day for 20-30 minutes. If you can’t walk that much walk 5-10 minutes and increase gradually so that you can walk 30 minutes a day. We humans need to move more. We sit far too much. It is essential that you include physical activity into each and every day. Make this promise to your self. “I will walk 30 minutes every day at least 5 days a week.”
- Pay attention to quiet time. Get the screens out of the bedroom: no TV, no laptop, no iPad, no problem. Cultivate quiet time before you sleep. If you live in a noisy house or apartment get a sound machine. I use and recommend this one from Amazon.
- Pay attention to your eating habits. If you are a late night snacker instead try this. I am a big believer in Celestial Seasoning’s Sleepy Time tea You can go click here and go to Amazon to purchase it. It is delicious and calming and just perfect before you fall asleep. Recently I have been turned on to an apple cider vinegar concoction that is supposed to help you sleep through the night. The recipe is simple its 12-16 ounces of warm water, 2 TBS of Apple Cider Vinegar- I use Bragg Organic, 1 tsp of honey, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger or grated raw ginger (my favorite), 1/4 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne pepper and turmeric.
- Pay attention to your breath. Creating a breathing practice is simple and easy and costs you nothing and you can take everywhere! In the video below I am going to teach you a very simple breathing practice that will calm you, reduce stress and anxiety and prepare you for a restful night of blissful sleep. I call it Exhale and Wait to Breathe. It is based on breathing practices developed by FM Alexander, the creator of the Alexander Technique. Breathe like this 3-5times before crawling under the covers and closing your eyes.
My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves. You can get my Amazon best-selling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence here. If you would like to know more about the Alexander Technique you can go to these two websites. American Society for the Alexander Technique, AmSAT, and The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique.
Photo: Unsplash, Jessica Knowlden