We all know what it feels like to wake up after a night of good quality sleep.
Yet, very few of us make sleep a priority.
And even less of us are aware that the actual time that we sleep, plays a significant role in how emotionally and physically well we feel.
We want to be aiming for eight hours of quality sleep each night.
I don’t need to tell you that!
What you may not be aware of, is that in order to support your body in staying well – in order to have a super charged immune system – you need to be in bed by around 10pm.
Because the liver processes our blood between 11pm and 3am, cleansing it of toxins.
It also makes new blood during this time.
But if you’re not well asleep by 11pm, then your liver cannot do this necessary detox.
Or not well enough to support you in feeling alive, vibrant and well nourished the next day.
This is why even people who go to bed late and sleep in til midday still feel groggy and exhausted when they wake up.
Maybe they did get their 8 hours of sleep.
But they weren’t asleep between 11pm and 3am, so their body is now operating on old blood.
It hasn’t been cleansed.
If you’re a super late owl or a shift worker or a new parent, and miss some or all of this 11pm to 3am window, then over time toxins will accumulate in your body.
Toxins impair the functioning of the body.
The functioning of the immune system.
The simple truth is, that without quality sleep, your immune system becomes impaired.
Instead of producing special proteins to fight off infections and inflammation, you leave your body wide open to catching a bad cold, the flu or whatever virus is spreading its way around the world!!
So what do you do?
Firstly, you make quality sleep your priority!!
You recognise the importance sleep plays in your life.
Like I wrote in this blog many years ago – Bring on the Zeds – sleeping is like putting the phone on charge.
It simply doesn’t work if it doesn’t get topped up regularly.
One study published in Behavioural Sleep Medicine measured the moods of women who slept eight hours compared to those who had less than five hours.
Not surprisingly, the group who slept less had significantly higher levels of anger, depression and confusion.
Interestingly ‘anger’ is associated with the liver in Chinese Medicine.
But hey, you don’t need to read a study to know that a lack of quality sleep will affect your mood!
Have a few nights of mediocre sleep and emotions get given free rein to wreak havoc on your life (and your most intimate relationships)!!
So, you make quality sleep a priority.
Now making quality sleep a priority is more of a ‘decision’ than anything else.
Once you decide that quality sleep is important for your overall health, then you ease your way into a healthy sleeping schedule.
I say ‘ease’ your way in, because if you currently go to be around 1pm and then try to go to bed at 10pm, chances are you’ll just lie awake for hours getting frustrated!!
No, start small.
Go to bed at 12midnight.
Do it for a couple of weeks, then ease it back to 11pm.
Once you get settled into that new schedule take it back to 10pm.
If one hour increments feel too severe, start with half hour increments.
Begin with what works for you, with the objective to regularly be in bed by 10pm within a few months.
What if I can’t get to sleep, or wake in the middle of the night and can’t return to sleep?
Chances are if you’re tossing and turning, unable to get to (or return to) sleep, it’s because you have things on your mind.
Perhaps you lead a busy life that doesn’t allow space for any down time for your mind to sort through your day and relax.
If this is the case, as soon as you lie down, your mind goes into processing mode and stops you from sleeping.
This will also be the case if you’re worried about something.
Hence why you always want to get to the bottom of what is causing you these issues.
To help with this, let me share with you some powerful practices I teach my clients…
Let’s start with Left Nostril Breathing, because hey, you can stay in your warm snug bed, and do it!
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, or wake up and can’t return to sleep, place a finger over your right nostril, so you can only breathe through your left nostril.
Take long slow deep breaths in and out of your left nostril.
Do this until you fall to sleep.
When you breathe through only your left nostril you activate the Ida Nerve (also known as the parasympathetic nervous system) which is responsible for calming your mind and body.
When you breath through the right nostril, you activate the Pingala Nerve, which is responsible for charging you up and giving you energy.
This is why we have two nostrils, not one big one!
Our body really is a fined tuned machine that is designed to calm up when we need it, and energise us when we need it.
So you breathe through your left nostril.
And in doing so, sooth yourself into a state conducive for quality sleep.
You may even like to spend 11 minutes left nostril breathing before you go to bed, to help calm your body for a restful night’s sleep!
This can be a really beautiful bedtime ritual.
If you find your left nostril is blocked -which is really common – lie on your right side until your left nostril unblocks.
Hopefully it will.
If ten or so minutes passes and you haven’t fallen back to sleep with the Left Nostril Breathing, then it simply means you have too many things on your mind, that are keeping you awake, and we need to empty them out manually.
In which case, move into this next practice, which yes, will require you to sit up and turn on the light!
I call this exercise Sleep Writing.
Have a pen and notebook next to your bed, and just start writing.
Don’t try and think of things to write, just write.
Just let your hand pour words onto the page.
We’re not looking for them to make sense, we’re not wanting to re-read this writing at any time in the future.
You are quite literally doing a mind-dump.
Dumping all of your thoughts out onto the page.
Keep writing until you have nothing left to write.
Then, turn off the light, do some more Left Nostril Breathing, and chances are you’ll be asleep in little time at all.
If you still can’t go to sleep it means there are some deep-seated emotional issues that are causing an imbalance in your body, and preventing it from sleeping.
In that case, your body is using your inability to sleep to get your attention, you you will address those issues.
This is where I would recommend working with someone like me one-on-one, who can help you get to the root cause of those issues, because as you’ve read, sleep isn’t something you want to be missing out on.
Quality sleep is a super important part of a well-functioning body, and healthy emotions.
The simple fact is:
We need sleep.
Good quality sleep.
If you’re enrolled in my Yoga for the Vagina online series, make sure you check out the 18-minute Yoga Sequence I created to help you wind down for a beautiful night of quality sleep.
I designed this sequence with specific postures to help calm the body and relax the mind.
It’s one of my favourite sequences!!
OK, I’ll leave all of that with you.
Know that quality sleep is available to you.
Try these exercises, share how you go with them in the comments below, and enjoy waking up feeling refreshed, alive and super-charged for the day ahead.