Did you know that right now in the U.S., it’s estimated that 27% of adults have trouble sleeping most nights? Even more mind-blowing, close to 70% of Americans struggle to fall asleep at least one night during the week, which means if you find it hard to get restful sleep, you are not alone.
Sleep is potentially the most important rejuvenating force for our bodies. It’s when we enable ourselves to replenish energy reserves, repair muscular tears, and reboot our organs. Studies have shown that chronic poor-sleeping habits can even lead to earlier deaths compared to those that sleep longer each night.
Spiritually, it’s also important to reach deep sleep and connect with your Higher Self. This is when you may receive wisdom, inspiration, and help in resolving problems and conflicts. In Higher Self Yoga, Book I, Nanette explains that “a person goes during sleep to restore their psychic energies… Each individual molds themselves by way of bringing back from the Subtle World new impressions that further personal and spiritual development.”
There is wisdom in the saying “better sleep on it.” True rest can change your life. Below are seven powerful techniques for sleep that you can use in conjunction with your Higher Self meditation practice.
Technique #1: Muscle Relaxation
When you lay down at night after a long day, your body sometimes requires stretching and relaxation practices to get you ready for slumber. Known as progressive muscle relaxation, this kind of activity can help alleviate tension, and in conjunction with inner Higher Self work, relieves both mind and body.
Start with a focus on your chest; take a minute to connect with your Higher Self and simply breathe slowly and deeply. Tense your toes or feet for a 3 to 4-second interval. Slowly exhale, and as you do, release tension. Do this again with your lower leg muscles/calves, and work your way up your legs according to your breathing cycle. Do it again with your abdomen and lower back, then upper back, then your arms, hands, and finally your face. Allow yourself to feel the release of tension, and as it calms you, drift off into peaceful sleep.
Technique #2: Yoga Breathing Techniques
Many of us breathe shallowly as a result of anxiety, especially as we go to bed. This makes it harder for your brain to drift off into sleep. Resolve to focus specifically on your breathing at night. Try the popular 4-7-8 yogic breathing technique in which you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7, and exhale for 8 seconds. As you do so, you may choose to employ visualization techniques such as the one noted below.
Technique #3: Create Peaceful Imagery
As we lay down, it’s hard not to hold on to thoughts about your day, as well as what’s coming tomorrow. Try and focus your meditative energy on peaceful imagery, like a running waterfall, or floating clouds. Think about imagery that makes you feel serene like your very favorite places on earth. Allow these images to play in your head over and over again as you control your thoughts and keep all stressful/negative images from floating into your head.
If you have trouble picturing imagery that makes you feel calm, connect with your heart center and ask your Higher Self to reveal those calming images or other moments in your life that you can focus on as you drift off to sleep.
Technique #4: Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness is a practice in which you keep your mental thoughts in the present. Rooted in Buddhist teachings, it’s the practice of accepting how things are and forgetting the hardships of the past and the anxieties of the future. When you find yourself lying in bed worrying, try to shift your mindset to the present. What is the most distant noise you hear, a bird or a cricket? What do your little toes feel? Think about this moment and this moment alone. If you struggle with staying present, ask your Higher Self to guide you back every time your mind wanders. Maintain focus on your connection with your Wise Mind.
Technique #5: Focus on Kindness
Do you often find yourself in bed, thinking about how much you hate a coworker? Or about something snippy someone said to you that day? Instead, try and think about positive things, like recent accomplishments or people you appreciate in your life. If your mind is clouded with negativity, reconnecting with the heart can help remind you of all that you have to be proud of and grateful for.
Many times, thinking like this can become cyclical. We lay down and continue to go over all the wrongdoings from the day. We worry or judge ourselves, the people in our lives, and our surroundings. Remove the cycle altogether, and you’ll discover that you sleep with more ease.
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Technique #6: Reduce Disturbances
If there are erratic noises or other disturbances that make it hard for you to fall asleep, find a way to remediate them. Consider a hypnosis recording or a white noise machine that will wash out distractions. Additionally, if you are sensitive to light, consider light-blocking curtains or an eye mask. Whatever your sensitivity, try and work with your body.
Technique #7: Avoid Blue Light & Stimulating Media
Avoid any stimulating media, like a horror film or a suspenseful TV show that will elevate your heart rate before bedtime. It takes your body a long time to bring it back down to its natural rhythm. Additionally, the blue light that emits from our phones, laptops, etc. can actually trick our mind into thinking an approaching “dawn” is on the horizon. Therefore, it’s best if you can power down these devices two hours before you lay down to sleep.