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5 Tips for a Better Sleep

5 Tips for a Better Sleep

Do you struggle to fall asleep at night or wake in the wee hours? Lack of sleep makes us feel stressed, unable to focus and prone to weight gain. Follow our suggestions to get the best nights rest.

1 Eat Yourself Sleepy

Eating too much or too little in the evening can affect sleep quality but did you know some foods actually promote sleep? Complex carbs help your body to produce melatonin – the sleep hormone. Think rice, potatoes, quinoa. Better still, combine one of these with a protein food containing the sleep-inducing amino acid, tryptophan. Good sources include nuts, seeds, chicken, fish and lentils. Wash it down with some chamomile tea, well-known for its calming properties. You could also try drinking a glass of sour cherry juice. Rich in natural melatonin, studies have found it can induce drowsiness and increase total sleep time.

2 Bedtime Ritual

Most of us know we should avoid stimulants like caffeine and sugar in the evening. Swap your usual cup of tea & treat for a calming bedtime ritual. Try a warm foot bath with a soothing essential oil. Jasmine and sandalwood are good choices. Massaging your feet with warm sesame oil helps to calm a busy mind. Enjoy a cup of warm milk with sleep-inducing nutmeg and honey. Sprinkle lavender on your pillow and snuggle up with a good book.

3 Set Your Body Clock

Exposure to outdoor light is critical for regulating sleep-wake cycles, mood and appetite. Being outdoors for 30-60 minutes each day promotes sound sleep anWoman-using-a-mobile-phone-in-bedd increases metabolism. While natural light during the day benefits us, artificial light in the evening suppresses the production of melatonin and sends wake-up messages to the brain. To prepare for the perfect slumber, use soft lighting in the evening. Many modern phones and devices emit blue light. This type of light is especially good at suppressing melatonin production, thereby interfering with proper sleep. Set aside your phone or iPad at least one hour before bedtime. Make your bedroom as dark as possible which will encourage deeper and longer sleep. If you get up to use the bathroom, avoid turning on the light so your body stays in sleep mode.

4 Exercise

Studies show that regular exercise improves sleep quality. Try to fit in a short walk on your lunch break. Take a yoga class. Yoga offers the perfect combination of exercise, breathing and relaxation. Restorative yoga, in particular, is renowned for reversing the stress response, slowing down the nervous system and promoting deep, restful sleep.

5 Slow Your Mind

If your mind is busy and you have difficulty switching off at night, try learning some simple breath awareness techniques. By slowing the breath, we slow the mind. As Sri Ramana Maharshi wrote, “Mind and breath have the same source. Hence breath is controlled when mind is controlled and mind when breath is controlled.” From sitting, follow your breath as it flows in and out through the nose. From lying, rest your hands on your tummy and follow the rise and fall of the breath beneath your hands.

This Saturday’s Core and Restore workshop will focus on breathing techniques that calm the mind and tone your core from the inside out. So forget stomach crunching sit-ups and look forward to the unique practice of Kapalabhati. Known as Skull Shining Breath, Kapalabhati cleanses the nasal passages, improves blood flow to the brain and strengthens the deepest layer of abdominal muscle, Transverse Abdominus. In addition, the workshop will focus on strengthening the inner and outer core muscles in tandem with the breath. In the latter half of the workshop, you will experience the deep release of restorative yoga poses which help us to let go of the gripping sensations we experience in the belly as a result of stress. Restorative yoga triggers the Relaxation Response, soothing the nervous system and allowing you to rest deeply.

In addition, the workshop will focus on strengthening the inner and outer core muscles in tandem with the breath. In the latter half of the workshop, you will experience the deep release of restorative yoga poses which help us to let go of the gripping sensations we experience in the belly as a result of stress. Restorative yoga triggers the Relaxation Response, soothing the nervous system and allowing you to rest deeply.

About the author: Paula Flood

Paula Flood

My first experience of yoga was at Queen’s University PEC in Belfast where I attended classes with Iyengar instructor Marie Quail in the mid-90s. From the very first class, I was hooked on yoga and immersed myself over the following years in practice and training.’ Paula completed a hatha yoga diploma in 1999 and since then has trained in prenatal yoga, yoga therapy, anatomy, Buteyko breathing, mindfulness meditation and anti-gravity yoga. Paula has been a tutor on teacher training courses and also teaches at Om Yoga Dublin. Paula is accredited with Yoga Alliance UK, RYT 500 hours. ‘I am always inspired to share yoga with others and I try to teach in a way that is clear and accessible for everyone. My hope is that if you come to my class, you will leave feeling better

The elbowroom has an extensive range of classes for all ages and abilities. We offer such an eclectic mix to enable you to find something that will suit you. If you need any advice, please contact our class advisor who can point you in the right direction.