In case you missed it, it's National Sleep Awareness Week, which got me thinking about my own sleep routine. Like most people, I've had my fair share of sleepless nights. But one of the most immediate benefits I noticed once I started my daily meditation practice was my ability to sleep more peacefully and consistently through the night. In addition, I find that a nightly routine is important. While I'm no sleep expert, I have discovered a few things that are helpful for setting up for the perfect snooze.
1. Wash away the day
We are energy magnets throughout the day -- both the good vibes and the not so good. For me, I like to physically wash the day away as well as visualize releasing any energy that is no longer necessary literally going down the drain.
Whether washing your face or taking a shower or bath, take a moment to visualize the water clearing away the energy of the day. As you dry yourself off, take a few intentional deep breaths.
2. Choose a ritual
Whether lighting a candle, enjoying a cup of tea, burning some incense or playing relaxing music, choose a physical act to prep your space and mark the act of entering the sleep zone. I have a selection of scented sprays that are simply a combination of essential oils and water. I like to use the lavender or rose spray to both energetically clear and infuse a relaxing vibe.
Treat yourself to your an intentional (and visual) "turn down" service. As you move the pillows, fold back the covers, etc, visualize yourself having an uninterrupted and peaceful night's sleep.
3. Power down
No surprise that experts encourage us to power down in the evening. For me, I try to power down at least two hours before I intend to go to bed. But let's be honest, it simply doesn't always happen, so I try to at least choose the technologies where I can let the work day go (i.e.: my laptop, checking email, Facebook, etc). That way, if I just HAVE to watch one more episode of House of Cards before I go to bed or if I want to listen to relaxing music or a guided meditation, then I am at least using the technology intentionally.
Whether or not you are able to power down right before bedtime, be mindful to take at least 5 deep relaxing breaths as you lay your head down for the night.
4. Cultivate gratitude
Practicing gratitude in the evening is a great way to put our day into perspective. You can write it down or simply think it to yourself.
Write down or think of three things you are grateful for. I usually think of one thing I am grateful for about a loved one, one thing about someone I may be experiencing a challenging time with, and one thing for myself.