One of the most frustrating things is when you're in bed, and have been there for several hours, tossing and turning. We all know how important sleep is to our mental and physical wellbeing, so battling insomnia is not only frustrating but necessary. Here are the best, natural home remedies and yoga and breathing exercises to help you fall asleep quickly and develop a better pre-sleep routine.
How to go to sleep when you can't
• It doesn’t start at bedtime
The process of getting to sleep doesn’t just begin when you get in to bed. Some people can fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, however for many of us this simply isn’t the case. It's time to think about your whole evening routine because if you're ‘busy’ right until you go to bed, this could be having an impact on your ability to switch off and sleep.
• Snooze prep
Try and avoid screen time for at least 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep. That means switching phones onto airplane mode so you can’t be tempted to sneak a peak, turning the TV off and putting the computer away! If you need to fill your time with something, consider reading a book preferably not one that's going to cause you to think a great deal, or try listening to some calming music to help you sleep easily.
• Download your day
Many of us get into bed and start to contemplate the day we've had. This is where journaling can be really useful. It doesn’t have to make sense or be pretty, use it as a download from your mind and think of it as once it's on paper, it no longer needs to take up space in your mind. If anything has worried you, irritated you or upset you during the day, use this time to work through it on paper.
• Preparing for the day ahead
Knowing that you're prepared and organised for the next day can help give you the peace of mind needed to relax and allow you to fall asleep. Taking a few minutes before you go to bed to write down your to-do list for the next day can help you feel mentally prepared. This can also be extended as far as getting your clothes ready and preparing your meals so that you have a little bit of breathing space the following morning.
Yoga and breathing exercise for insomnia
Taking 10 to 15 minutes to nourish your body with some very gentle movement can help you physically and mentally unwind after your day and help you go to sleep when you're not tired . Here's a sequence you can try to help you get a good night's sleep:
1. Unwind in Cat & Cow
Cat & Cow is a popular yoga pose as you can spend several minutes literally unwinding from the day. Begin on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Take a deep breath in and look forward while lifting the tailbone into the air. You will lengthen through the front of the body and create a soft arch through your lower back.
As you exhale reverse this movement and push the floor away from you with your hands as you arch your back like an angry cat and round through the shoulders, also tucking the tailbone. Draw your belly button up towards your spine and imagine you're pushing your upper back into someone’s hand to find a little more space and stretch. Move through this as many times as you like, or for 10 breaths, until you feel that you have loosened up a bit. Don’t be afraid to go ‘off track’ and move the hips from side to side, circle the hips and stretch through the backs of the legs to loosen up even further.
2. Come back to your breath
After you have done Cat & Cow, sink your hips back towards your feet into a Child’s Pose (Balasana). The knees can be wide or close together depending on what you feel is most comfortable. Keep your finger tips reaching out in front of you and allow your forehead to meet the floor. Breathe deeply into the back of your rib cage and imagine you're trying to stretch the skin across your upper back each time you inhale. Stay here for a few minutes just observing your breath and finding a little stillness.
3. Lift your legs
Next come into Legs Up The Wall which is a variation of Shoulder Stand (Viparita Karani). Come to sit side on beside a wall, as close as you can get to it, then gently swivel yourself round (it doesn’t need to be graceful!) so that you're laying on your back and your legs are up the wall. You can place a blanket or pillow under your lower back if you would like some extra support, and then press your thigh bones towards the wall. Slide the shoulders down the back and lengthen your tailbone towards the wall. This pose is amazing for relieving tired legs and lower back pain, as well as giving a mild stretch to the back of the legs. Begin with a couple of minutes in this position and work up to staying here from anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.
To come out of Legs Up The Wall, gently roll to one side, take a few moments to lay on your side and either transition slowly to a seated position or to Savasana (Corpse Pose), and allow yourself a few more minutes of stillness before making your way to bed.
4. Breathing yourself to sleep
Sometimes you will have done all of the preparation possible and yet you still can’t fall asleep. Bringing yourself back to your breath can really help you get to sleep in 5 minutes . As you lay in bed, get yourself comfortable and gently breathe in through the nose for a count of 4, then exhale through the mouth for a count of 5. As you become used to this, see if you can increase the count gradually, keeping the exhale longer than the inhale. This is not only very soothing for the nervous system, but it also gives an anchor for the mind to help guide it away from racing thoughts.
Home remedies for insomnia
• Avoid caffeine – which includes cacao, yes even the healthy raw chocolate bars, after 5pm in the evening.
• Try not to eat a large meal just before going to bed – however equally important is not going to bed starving hungry!
• Download a Yoga Nidra meditation – use something like Insight Timer to listen to as you fall asleep.
• For some people, intense exercise can be a little too energising for the evening – consider switching to a gentler form of movement after 6pm and save the adrenalin pumping workouts for day time!
• Try and stick to a routine – even at the weekends. It can be tempting to sleep in late at the weekends but if you create a regular routine, your bodyclock will stay in a more consistent pattern and you'll be able to drift off more easily.
Sleep is very important, but try not to stress out about the fact that sleep sometimes eludes you – this can often make it even harder to fall asleep! Create a mindful routine for yourself and hopefully you'll be catching some extra Zzz's in no time.
To save these helpful tips, Pin This!