Insomnia or how to sleep well

Recently I have been having some problems with falling asleep (worrying and overstimulated by dancing).  Today in this LONG blog I will share my coping mechanism with you.  This might send you to sleep J.

If difficulties with sleep (falling asleep or waking up during sleep) occur at least three times a week or lasts longer than one month it is called chronic insomnia.

Good sleep is when it takes less than 30 minutes to fall asleep and one only wakes up once or twice during the night.  Sleep should be between 6 hours and 9 hours (more than 9 hours is not healthy).

The body needs sleep to rest, to restore and to recover for homeostasis.

General tips for sleeping well:

  1. Regular sleep and regular wake up. If wake up tired get out to sun for ½ hour,
  2. Sleep when fatigued,
  3. If cannot sleep get up and try again,
  4. Bedroom is for sleep,
  5. No naps during the day (or 20-40 min max.),
  6. Establish sleep routine,
  7. Eat right – at regular times,
  8. Exercise regularly,
  9. Keep daytime routine,
  10. Breathing exercises – see more on this later,
  11. No clock-watching if you cannot sleep (turn it away),
  12. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at night,
  13. Stop staring at a screen at least an hour before you go to bed. Blue light / screen interferes with melatonin production,
  14. Try the poses below – before going to bed,
  15. Consider keeping sleep diary and/or gratitude diary,

Try one or all of the following RESTORATIVE poses before you go to bed.

  • Do not eat for say 1.5 hours before practicing,
  • Do your bathroom routine before you start,
  • Dedicate a quiet place,
  • Allow enough time (you might dose off like I do),
  • Wear comfortable clothing or your PJ’s,
  • Be warm,
  • Cover your eyes (use an eye-pillow, hand or face towel folded),
  • Do not worry about the props – substitute the bolster with a blanket folded to support the spine (and only the spine) and to lift the chest, use towels in additional to blankets. Books can be used for extra elevation.

Supta Badha Konasana (cobblers pose – laying down)

The aim is to open the chest, release tension in the abdominal area.

Soles of the feet are touching, gentle push the heels together (strap is optional).

Focus on your breath, inhale for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4. If you are more experienced hold the breath after inhalation and after exhalation, so the cycle will be 4:4:4:4. or you can extend the exhalation to the count of 6 or 8. Return to your normal breathing if you experience any discomfort.

Try to take the breath up from the abdominal area towards the clavicles, shoulders. Notice how your abdominal rises and how your ribcage expands on inhalation.

Stay in the pose min 5 minutes – don’t worry if you dose off.

IMG_1715

Supta Badha Konasana

 

Pashimottanasa (forward bend)

The aim is to rest the forehead.  This helps to calm the mind.

Any chair will do and any elevation on it.  If you are more flexible a coffee table might do the job.  A modified version is to sit at the dining table and have some props to rest the forehead.

Keep the shoulders, try to keep the front of your torso long.

Stay in the pose for 5 minutes (gradually build up to it).

IMG_1708

 

Viparita Karini (legs up the wall or on chair)

This pose is everybody’s favourite.

The heart is resting, helps with swollen feet.

For support any chair or the coffee table will do.

Support your ankles on the chair.

Hips can be raised with blanket or bolster.

Focus on the breathing as noted earlier.

Stay in the pose for 5 to 10 minutes.

IMG_1688

 

For more experienced yogis the legs can be on the wall – vertical or at a slight angle.

Hips can be resting on elevation, folded blanket.

Though this photo was taken outside please do it inside for this routine.

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Savasana (pose of the corps)

It is said not finishing a practice with Savasana is a bit like not saving your document on the computer – however you might want to relocate from the floor to your bed – AND FALL ASLEEP QUICKLY.

For support under the knees/thighs use a small pillow. I find it helpful – it allows the lower back to soften.

This photo comes from the ‘relax at Christmas’ series – hence the eye cover

IMG_1700

Savasana

 

To go to sleep or to calm yourself down try the following pranayama (breath control) and meditation techniques:

Sit up tall, feel the ground under your feet.

Roll the shoulders back, feel that it helps to lift your chest.

 

Mindfulness of the five senses

Without trying to alter your experience bring your awareness to your five senses

  • notice one thing you can see,
  • notice one thing you can hear,
  • notice one thing you can taste,
  • notice one thing you can smell,
  • notice one thing you can feel,

Focusing on each of the five senses in turn takes you into the present moment.

 

Grounding calming breath for sleep

Breathe through your nose

  • Inhale for the count of four (4)
  • Exhale for the count of eight (8). If 8 is too long try 6.

Repeat three times or until desired effect.

Using the diaphragm; breathing fully into the belly and expelling all the air can help activate our parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing the body and mind.  If it is uncomfortable return to your normal breathing.

 

4:4:4:4 – this technique was listed under the poses as well.

  1. Inhale for the count of four (4)
  2. Hold the breath for the count of four (4)
  3. Exhale slowly for the count of four (4) – or longer for experienced yogis
  4. Hold for the breath for the count of four.(4)

This is one cycle. Repeat four more times.

If you experience any discomfort return to your normal cycle of breath.

Thanks for reading!

Sleep well – live well!

lotus yoga