My grand father was able to go to sleep without trouble. He believed in being calm, quiet and motionless at night. What I observed in him was that about an hour before he wanted to go to bed he would go into a state of quiet and calm. Nothing ever seemed to go fast for him everything went according to its proper time.
He had time management down pat. He knew there were rest periods and they should follow nature. The night was for rest and the day was for being active. He lived in an environment of tranquillity. He knew that all living things had fatigue “rest” periods and that it was during these times that rest was essential to allow the balance to be restored in nature and in his body.
Sleep has a purpose
It is during sleep that tranquillity fills our minds and our soul, providing the placidity over our tempers and our emotions.
Restful and tranquil sleep allows our body to regenerate, to digest and to eliminate the toxins that have accumulated, and to rebuild what was lost during the day time ready for us to conquer the next day with a new found calm, vitality and energy.
Sadly for a staggering 51 percent, sleep doesn’t always come as easy as it did for my grandfather who tilled the land and followed the natural light of the day and the night.
We now live in a world that doesn’t stop for anyone or anything including our sleep needs. Shift work, deadlines,financial and family pressures, life traumas, corporate business travel (transcending time zones many times a week or even in one day) have all disrupted our natural biorhythms. So sleep doesn’t come easily for a lot of us.
We find that it is difficult to calm the racy and overactive mind after a day of high-pressure work or just with dealing with all the life stresses and as a consequence we have difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep.This disrupts our normal sleep pattern and often leaves us wanting for vital energy to get on with our lives or in some cases unable to cope or function at our optimum.
We need to dream
If we cant sleep then we don’t dream, if we have a disrupted sleep pattern, waking multiple times a night and then falling back to sleep we spend less time dreaming. The more disrupted your sleepis the less time you spend in the REM STAGE (Rapid eye movement stage of sleep where all your dreaming takes place). The research has indicated that dreams are important.It is the time when our subconscious is rebalancing what we have learnt during the day, the past or what we are dealing with in our lives currently; it is during this time that conflict and stressful situations are put into perspective and subconscious solutions are nutted out by your brain to resolve and produce outcomes that you may be able to use when you are awake.
Dreams are also thought to play a pivotal role in memory strengthening, learning capacity, thinking and in your overall mental performance. For it is during the REM (dream) stage of sleep that what you have learnt during the day or in the not distant past is neuro-chemically hardwired into your brain for you to not only remember it, but for you to be able to apply it when you awake.
Here are my tips for better sleep and better dreaming:
- Establish a sleep routine: Try to go to bed and awake at the same time.
- Limit the bed to sleep: Do not read, study, watch TV, read emails or eat in bed.
- Exercise: During the day this will help with sleep as exercise induces endorphin release that relaxes the brain and makes sleep easier; remember not to exercise an hour before wanting to go to sleep as the adrenaline levels may keep you awake.
- Relax before bed: A warm bath, soothing music, relaxation, meditation and visualisation of a relaxing location where you want o be or have been will help to relax you.
- Avoid napping during the day: Restrict sleeping to night bedtime if you are having trouble sleeping.
- Avoid stimulants: Stay away from coffee, chocolate and cigarettes.Alcohol can make you drowsy but invariably disrupts your sleep pattern.
- Warm soothing drinks: Camomile tea, peppermint tea and milk based drinks increase tryptophan that calms you and induces relaxation and sleep.
- Put your mind to BED separately to your body: You need to put your mind to sleep separately: a simple technique I personally use is to pretend that I take my brain out of my head and lock it in the top draw of my dressing table along with all the stressors, anxiety, and racing thoughts; I tell myself that I will let it out in the morning, giving my body the rest it needs without the brain play.
- Natural hypnotics: Valerian is a calmative that helps induce sleep without addiction. Melatonin can also help re-establish normal sleep patterns. You should discuss any treatment with your doctor before commencing on any.
- If everything fails: Then you must consult your health professional as there may be an underlying problem that will need to be investigated for why you can’t sleep.