Improve Sleep

Things I Can Do To Help Me Sleep

Do you ever feel anxious for no apparent reason?Sleep Stress

Are your sleep patterns erratic?

Losing weight is proving difficult?

Feel as if constantly stressed with no way out?

If any of these questions apply to you then I have something that can help you sleep, enable you to relax and change your life in only 20 minutes.

I started to explore various relaxation techniques and things I can do to help me sleep about 4 years ago. I was running my own business and suffering quite a bit from stress, lacking in sleep and feeling very anxious with overwhelm every day.

I tried many different breathing techniques, mindfulness, meditation and yoga and really felt it helped me to face my problems in a much more pragmatic way and also enable me to deal with my life and the world around me in a much calmer and relaxed state.

So how can how help you to sleep and change your life?

The Answer – Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep)

Yogic sleep is a deep relaxation technique that can last between 20 minutes to 45 minutes in length.

Research has shown that 45 minutes of Yogic Sleep is the equivalent of about 3 hours of normal sleep.

However, it is still important that you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Adding Yoga Nidra into a daily routine will place you into a much calmer state throughout the day. It can also help you to sleep deeper and prepare you for bedtime.

How Does It Work?

Yoga Nidra is a practice which comes from a spiritual essence like other types of Yoga.

Yoga Nidra

The practice works on deep relaxation at a conscious level but affects the unconscious mind.

There are 4 steps to an average sleep pattern

Awake

Where the brain waves trigger an alertness at a Beta State

Relax

A point where your state of mind shifts to an Alpha State

 

 

 

 

Light Sleep

At this time you are entering Theta Waves but still remain conscious. Yogic sleep helps get to this state.

Deep Sleep

Slow waves of unconsciousness

Benefits Of Yoga Nidra

Just as sleep is important for rest Yoga Nidra allows you to feel calm, relaxed and can also pose some restoration to your body. When finished your practice you come away feeling more peaceful in yourself and grounded to the world around you.

As I mentioned earlier it is quite a Spiritual Yoga Practice which gives you feelings of

Stress Relief

Tranquility

Control of emotions and overall well-being

Feeling of being more alert and focused

Increased connection to yourself, others and the environment around you

Known to improve

Blood Pressure

Heart Rate

Physiological Well Being

Control of Blood Glucose Levels

How Simple Is It To Start?

You can do this practice in your own home through many YouTube Channels or visit a Yoga Studio whichever is the most practical. My recommendation is that you add into your daily life or a minimum of 3 times per week to notice a difference. Start with 20 minutes and build up accordingly.

A guided Yoga Nidra session will talk you through the various steps with music taking out all the hard work for you.

A session irrelevant of time will go through the following 7 stages.

Start

Always lying down with your arms at the side of your body. Ensure that you are comfortable by using pillows and props and even a blanket to keep the warmth in. You might find that as your body slows itself down you might start to get a little cold.

Relax

Simple Pranayama breathing techniques will be used. Sometimes the session will move to alternate nostril breathing. Just like many other Yoga Practices learning how to inhale and exhale for longer, with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest will be brought in.

What you are trying to do is about settling your body into relaxation through focusing your brain on your breath.

Set A Positive Intention

All through this practice you are staying awake which is important. You then set a positive intention such as “I welcome relaxation” and repeat this 3 times. At this point you are into a deep relaxation state but important to not fall asleep.

Outdoor Nidra

Body Scan

Slowly relaxing even more, you start to scan your left side of the body and then move across to the right.

An example would be starting at your left small toe and then move across to the right foot. You slowly make your way relaxing your whole body up through your legs, torso, back, arms, shoulders, neck, facial muscles and finishing at the head.

Feeling more relaxed and calmer than start to take your whole body as one to deepen even further.

Visualization

Next you will be taken through a route of visualization for example a “beautiful place” “the ocean”, a “beautifully coloured field of nature” where you completely and utterly feel total relaxation and allowing all your senses to explore.

Repeat Affirmation

In this even more relaxed state, you will repeat your affirmation a further 3 times.

Final Stage

Slowly awaken fully after your 20 to 45 sessions feeling calm, refreshed, and relaxed.

You can obviously do this for yourself, but I believe at the beginning having someone else to take you through these stages will enable you to relax completely.

How Can Pranayama Breathing Help Me?

Pranayama is a technique that has come from India over 6000 years ago and is part of every Yoga practice in some form or other, both physically and psychologically.

It is basically a formal practice to control your breath which is the source of our energy “Prana” or “Vital Life Force”.

In our everyday life breathing is an involuntary mechanism and the aim of relaxing is through a controlled way.

Pranayama breathing exercises help to take control of your breath or retain it through deliberate methods of inhalation and exhalation. It is both a specific mental and physical practice.

Pranayama

When you get deeper into things you start to understand that breathing is part of the Autonomic Nervous system. This is what controls our muscles and vital functions without us knowing and essentially helps to keep us alive.

The Autonomic Nervous System works outside of the Central Nervous System and works on two levels.

Craniosacral

Deals with the Parasympathetic pathways of relaxation and digestion.

Thoracolumbar

Our sympathetic pathway which is the control of our “Fight or Flight” mechanism.

Both the craniosacral and thoracolumbar work to oppose one another as we go through our everyday life.

It is thought that a highly trained Yoga Practitioner or Buddhist can slow their heart and control their body temperature.

Conclusion

I believe that self-care is important for all of us for both the body and the mind. We lead such busy stressful lives and often feel that we cannot cope with these everyday pressures. This occurs because we fail to get a good night’s sleep. Breathing techniques play a huge part in trying to help us to help ourselves.

There are so many ways to do this so I hope that you will try Yoga Nidra as it really is a beautiful practice even if only for 20 minutes. Surely getting a good night’s sleep and a better life is worth it?Release

Let me know how you get on or if you want to know more in the comments below.

 

8 comments

  1. Sasha

    I used to have serious issues with anxiety and I realized that it was taking away from my sleep, making me grumpy and drowsy and less productive throughout the day. A friend of mine suggested sleep hypnosis or guided meditation and that absolutely changed my sleeping patterns.. for the better, of course! Also, doing yoga made me better able to deal with my anxiety so I can only imagine the effects yogic sleep will have in both my waking life as well as my sleep. This is something I am totally willing to try out and am super excited about as well. However, what would your #1 recommended guided yogic sleep session be with that I should try. Also, are they available on YouTube?

    1. Imelda Easthorpe

      Hello Sasha,

      It is great to see how you have already tried different ways to help you sleep and lead a better life which is similar to myself. You Tube have varying types so I would try a 20 minute version to get you ready for sleep and then see how you get on. Please let me know

      Thank you 

  2. Rohit

    Hi Imelda,

    First of all, Congratulations for putting up such a beautiful looking site. It is eye-soothing to see the organization and the graphics around.

    I fully agree that you get stressed out due to sleep-depravity. I have observed this for myself when I faced the same situation as you in a corporate life.

    I was deeply sucked into the article as I read through the Yoga Nidra. It is so simple to relax in this state and improve your sleep.

    I have never tried it before but now I will definitely.

    Thanks and sharing.

    1. Imelda Easthorpe

      Thank you Rohit,

      I really appreciate those comments and I am so pleased that you are going to try Yoga Nidra. It is so simple and yet really effective.

      Keep me posted

  3. Paolo

    Hi Imelda,

    This is interesting. Thanks for suggesting yoga Nidra. And the stats concerning its benefits have made me think why hadn’t I heard about this before. Thank you for also explaining what are Pranayama breathing techniques. You have here the whole guide and it’s exciting to give it a try. I’m grateful!

    1. Imelda Easthorpe

      Thank you so much Paolo, I think that once you try Yoga Nidra it will become a big part of your life and will help your whole life too. 

      Pleased that I could help.

  4. Matiss

    Yeah, I definitely subscribe to this notion of running a business being a stressful thing. I’ve had my fair share of that as well. I guess, I’ve kind of learned the hard way that we need to have practices in our toolbelt that help us it. With that in mind, I’ve too explored various options for this. That said, I have to admit that hearing of Yoga Nidra was a first for me. You really got me intrigued about it just after a few paragraphs.

    Overall, definitely seems like something I would like to try. Especially because I feel I’ve done something rather similar in the past and remember it bringing waves of relaxation, tranquility, and awareness.

    I appreciate the article. Cheers.

    1. Imelda Easthorpe

      Thank you so much Matiss, I really liked your comments and so pleased that I was able to help introduce you to something that enables you to relax. Relaxation is so important in our hectic lives.

      Thank you 

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