The Dalai Lama once quipped that “Sleep is the best meditation.” It indeed is. Have you ever tried spending just 20 or 30 minutes all by yourself to meditate in a quiet setting. Either the phone goes off or your kids call out for you, or your husband is asking you something. We are all prone to interruptions during the day; which is why our sleep is the best form of meditation. You can breathe in and out, in peace.
But, from the moment your child is born, your sleep patterns will be affected. Once those few years pass, you’d be looking to sleep comfortably again. But, no, it’s school time and you’ll need to wake up early and get yourself ready so that you can get others ready. Motherhood is such a daunting task. This is exactly why before you continue reading, I want you to pat yourself on the back. As a mother, you’re doing a fine job.
Now that you’ve patted yourself, I want you to think about your night schedule. You’re putting away dirty dishes, cleaning up either all by yourself or with your husband, and then you ensure that your kids are in bed, before you drag your tired body onto your bed. But, it’s not sleep time yet. You still have to respond to all those missed calls and messages, read a few pages from a book or magazine, or even make a shopping list. Let’s face it. You are never ready to sleep. This is exactly why you need a disciplined schedule.
A 2015 study found that “Adults under 60 years of age who slept five hours or fewer a night were mostly at-risk. Women who skimped on sleep were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.” A much recent study by the University of Melbourne found that sleeping at least 7 hours every night makes adults – especially women – healthier. Researchers also found that if you’ve missed proper sleep for a few days, you can get rid of fatigue by sleeping more to make up for all that missed sleep. You read it right. If you’ve slept less in the last four our five days, put the alarm clocks away and go on a snooze-fest.
So, how do you bring yourself around to sleeping? Here are some tips:
Set a sleep routine: Fix a normal bed time and wake up time. Ensure that there is at least a 7 hour gap between the two times. Start going to bed 30 minutes early. As days pass, you will eventually develop the habit. One important thing is to keep your alarm clock or phone away from you. Never leave it on the side-table nearby. Move it to a distant table or chair so that you will have to get out of bed to turn it off. Moving away from bed is perhaps the best way to shake off your sleep.
Avoid electronics and devices: Researchers have found that people with a busy brain cannot easily calm themselves to sleep. So, it’s essential that you avoid all forms of electronics before you go to bed. This includes TV, laptops, smartphones and tabs. By doing so, you will also be getting rid of blue-light emitting devices (mainly mobile phones and computers) which can help you get deeper sleep. In one of their recent updates, the iPhone offers a “Night Shift” mode which replaces the blue light with a warmer yellow light. While this is good, it would be advisable to not go near the phone before bedtime.
Take a small dose of melatonin: My grandmother always drank a warm glass of milk before she went to bed. I never really liked milk, so I would often pour my glass down the drain. Little did I know back then that milk was a natural source of melatonin, a wonder hormone that helps you sleep. Melatonin is available as over-the-counter medicine in various pharmacies. Even companies that manufacture health and fitness supplements such as GNC are offering melatonin. If you’re just starting, go for a 3 mg dosage. While taking melatonin tablets is completely safe, it is wise to consult your doctor before taking any.
Take a hot shower before bed: I first learnt of this in 1996. It has worked on almost everyone. Taking a hot water bath or shower helps relax your body and indirectly, your brain. A change in body temperature will help you sleep faster and longer. If you’re using a shower, simply stand under the stream for one or two minutes. I find it extremely comforting.
Play ambient sounds: I grew up in a house surrounded by ‘false ashoka’ trees. I went to sleep to the sounds of rustling leaves and trees swaying in the gently blowing wind. When I’m having trouble sleeping, I simply turn on my MP3 player where I’ve stored some ambient sounds of rustling leaves. This helps me sleep the way I once used to. Ambient sounds or white noise are therapeutic and can help your body and brain relax. Wondering if ambient sounds can help you? Just visit Noisli or A Soft Murmur and try it out for yourself. If this works, you can download free ambient sounds from the internet or save it as a playlist on YouTube.