Apr 1, 2019

5 Bedtime Rituals for restful Sleep

We don’t need to read the numerous medical studies that show how poor sleep affects our hormones, our physical and mental performance – we feel it. Tired, irritable and unable to focus we feel frustrated after a night of tossing and turning. Our body and our mind need true rest to recover, heal and detox.

Although I personally don’t have problems falling asleep usually, I am more than familiar with those nights that don’t feel restful at all: dreaming wildly, rerunning the events of the last days - conversations, ideas, tasks -, remembering things that I had or wanted to do, moving around a lot and in the morning waking up feeling like I was out and about all night. I notice the difference in my mood, my energy and the overall quality of the day significantly in relation to how I slept the previous night.

So here are my 5 favorite little rituals that have a major impact on my sleep quality. I practice them in the following order. Maybe you can use one or all of them, experiment and see what works for you.

Better sleep with Bedtime rituals Yoflaminga

1. Turn off your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.

The artificial light tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime and therefore interferes with your circadian rhythm making it harder to fall asleep. Moreover, reading your emails before going to sleep or (possibly upsetting) news, watching agitating movies or scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest giving you all these new ideas of what you want to have, be or do, will definitely not have a calming effect on your mind. Take (at least) the last half an hour before closing your eyes to calm down, detach from the day and prepare for a restful night.

2. Find your favorite ritual to finish the day.

This could be lighting a candle – if you like them, it could be a scented one or even incense sticks. I personally love Palo Santo or lavender room spray (I use the one from Primavera). You don’t want to fill your bedroom with an intense and thick smell, this is about creating a little mindfulness ritual. It can be a scent free candle or something else, like preparing and drinking a calming herbal tea, listening to soothing music, enjoying your skincare ritual or brushing your teeth with full awareness. Just enjoy a moment doing something calming with full presence.

Candle ritual for better sleep mindfulness yoflaminga

3. Take a few minutes to recap your day and leave it behind.

Taking a moment to let your day pass before your inner eye is a great way to letting it behind instead of leaving questions marks and issues open, that then pop up right when you try to fall asleep. Acknowledge if there were situations that didn’t go the way you wanted, knowing that you will get a new chance the next day to address the issue freshly. Be grateful for the things that did go well, even the very little ones. In this process, try not to get stuck on thoughts, find solutions, or run through different scenarios. Instead just let your thoughts come and go, like waves, without getting attached to them. That's when the mind starts to naturally quiet down.

4. Breathe yourself into calmness.

Once you let the events of the day behind you, take a moment for some conscious breathing. You could just let the breath flow naturally and observe it with full attention or use a Pranayama exercise (yogic breathing technique). My favorite one to calm down and balance myself is the alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodana or Anulom Vilom).

Here is how it goes:

  • Sit relaxed in an upright position. Observe your natural breathing pattern for a while.
  • Close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand, placing the index and middle finger between your eye brows or keeping them bend into the palm, inhale thought the left nostril.
  • Close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale on the right.
  • Inhale again on the right and then exhale on the left.

This is one round. You can go for about 5 to 10 rounds as long as you are comfortable. Your breath should be smooth, sound- and effortless.

If you feel a lot of stress in the body and focusing on the breath makes you nervous, alternatively you could lay down on you back (flat on the floor or the bed) and put your legs up a wall. This gentle inverted position is very soothing for our nervous system and helps to relax immediately. You can stay for several minutes.

Of course, you can do both :)

Jenny Hirtz Yoflaminga demonstrating alternate nostril breathing nadi shodana

5. Use your last wake moment to be grateful.

When you finally lay your head down to close your eyes, take these last moments to be thankful. Don’t think about the details of your day, you have already done that. Be grateful for your bed that is so comfortable, your blanket that envelops and warms you, your soft pillow that supports your head… feel that you are taken care of, supported, home. You are safe and warm – feel how incredibly comfortable it is, isn’t it wonderful..? Cultivating these kinds of thoughts, is the easiest and most soothing way to transport you into the present moment, you feel that right now everything is ok! You will also notice that the last thoughts you have don’t just influence the quality of your sleep but also the quality of your morning and therefore your whole next day.

These are the little rituals that I like to practice – I hope they help you, too, or at least inspire you to actively take care of your sleeping quality and to develop your own little rituals. Sweet dreams!

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