The following article discusses four critical sleep-related threats to your health – and offers simple steps to unwind for a night full of delicious rest.
How To Sleep Like a Baby
Confession time: I love to sleep. But it hasn’t always been the case.
As an avid reader with a penchant for sinister fairy tales, mystical and fantasy stories from a very young age, I had my first wave of horrible nightmares as a pre-schooler. Luckily, with the help of my buddhist father, I had the amazing chance of learning how to “navigate” and to control my dreams. And this is exactly when I developed a deep-rooted love and fascination for sleep.
Since then and until today, my reaction to any kind of stress is – going to sleep the earlier, the better. My mantra is “I’m better well-rested” and, because well-rested people make less mistakes, better decisions and are just generally more “themselves”, I’m always ready to help anyone to join my quiet revolution of being well-rested.
Today, let’s have a look at the most critical problems that keep some of you awake at night…
Problem Number 1: Outdoor Light Pollution
Solution: Dark Curtains and Sleep Masks
I’ve already shared the latest research and my solution to this major problem jeopardizing the sleep of urban dwellers, but I want to include it for the sake of completeness.
Darkness is our friend when it comes to sleep – sounds like almost too much of a fact to even be mentioned, but our modern reality seems to undermine this fact. I’ll leave the link to the Surrender to Darkness article below, but now let’s jump to our second enemy: evil entertainment.
Problem Number 2: Binge-Watching
Solution: Read A Book (…and Save Binge Viewing for Special Movie Nights/ TV Show Marathons)
Particularly young adults – listen up, millennials! – are endangered by the night that’s dark and full of terrors, excuse me, full of easily available entertainment of course. A recent study* proves that binge viewing tv series promotes poor sleep quality, insomnia, and fatigue, no matter your favourite show.
My personal guess though is that bingeing on shows featuring walking rotting corpses may further exacerbate the problem. I’ve talked a lot about healthy night routines that help enable good sleep, and turning off our “displays” is definitely one of such steps, also cutting out the “bad” blue light.
Problem Number 3: Lack of Inner Peace
Solution: Spiritual or Meditation Practice
Studies* that link inner peace (and healthy sleep as one of the results thereof) to spiritual practice are not suggesting that all you lovely atheists and fellow agnostics out there give up your beliefs.
What they suggest though is that a certain peaceful routine of unwinding – let’s call it that 😉 – is highly beneficial to our body and soul.
If you have a hard time finding your path into meditating, if it’s too new-age-ey or “too much of something Gwyneth would do” to you and if prayer sounds too medieval to even try, this down-to-earth advice by Scaravelli Yoga teacher Alke von Kruszynski will help you unwind every night and develop your own routine:
Each night, lie on your back with your knees up and your feet flat – for 15 minutes daily. Establish spine awareness (=feel your spine, keep it elongated, find symmetry).
1. Make sure to lie on a stable, not too cushiony surface. Keep your feet parallel, and your neck long. If you have neck issues or a hollow back, a flat pillow should help you find a comfortable position. And then: melt into the ground.
2. Be aware of your breath, of your body, don’t go through to-do lists or listen to an audio book! Let your breath move your belly, not forcing it, just naturally. Feel the gravitation. Feel how it holds you. Let it hold you. Personally, I like to imagine it like a Gulliver-style stage diving experience with thousands and thousands of tiny hands carrying me. It’s important to breathe into your back, to be aware of it, and to really let all tension go, to let your breath become deep.
This will allow your spine to resolve tiny malpositions that have occurred during the day.
3. While this is a beautiful practice for the evenings, make sure you don’t fall asleep just yet.
Problem Number 4: Noise
Solution: Soundproof Bedroom, Blocking the Noise,White & Pink Noise
Road traffic, loud neighbours, air and rail traffic – some cities literally never sleep. Noise at night is linked to an increase in cardiovascular diseases. The louder the nights, the worse the outcome.
Dealing with noise by moving houses may not always be possible. You can soundproof your bedroom with soundproof windows; sometimes (if the sounds is not transmitted through windows) by placing a carpet or a wardrobe against the “noisy” wall.
There are also ways to block the noise by wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones or by using white or pink noise apps. For example, I have reviewed my favourite sleep-supporting and noise-masking app Windy earlier.