Sanctuary Living by THE YOGA SCHOOL

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How to sleep better at night

By The Yoga School / September 14, 2020

A guide to getting better quality shut-eye.

While we technically don’t accomplish anything while we’re asleep, many important bodily functions take place during this period of time. Our muscles get the chance to relax; tissue growth and repair occurs; and hormones – such as growth hormones that aid muscle development – are released.

It’s curious to imagine that we spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping. But how much of quality sleep are you actually getting? Clocking sleep hours isn’t only about the absolute hours of sleep. It is also important to enjoy good quality, uninterrupted sleep. If our sleep cycle is cut short, our bodies aren’t able to finish the necessary work required for muscle repair or memory consolidation. When you wake up the following morning, you might also lack the energy or focus required to carry out tasks or make proper decisions.

Below, we’ve rounded up a few steps you can take to yield more restful sleep.

Meditate before sleep

Studies have shown that meditation helps to improve the quality and efficiency of sleep. By drawing your attention to your breath, the process helps to encourage slower breathing, lower your heart rate, and take the edge of any stressful thoughts that might hinder your ability to achieve restful sleep. Besides breathing exercises, sleep-focused meditation sessions might also guide you to scan your body mindfully so that you can release any tension held in your being. If you have 20 minutes to spare, tune into Bethany Auriel-Hagan’s gentle guided meditation for sleep.

Avoid light disruption

Exposure to too much light can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If your bedroom receives plenty of sunlight or diffused lighting from city lights at night, consider installing blackout curtains or blinds. A soft, opaque eye mask will also do the trick.

Electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones also emit blue light that can make it more difficult for you to ease into sleep. Some devices might have a “night mode” function that helps to reduce your exposure to blue light, but engaging with such digital devices are best avoided before bedtime. If possible, try to avoid bringing electronic devices into your bedroom so that it truly becomes a restful sanctuary.

Establish a healthy pre-bedtime routine

A calming routine not only helps you to doze off more easily, but also signals to your brain and body that it’s time to prepare for sleep. An hour before bed, dim the lights and disconnect from any devices that call out for your attention. It can be beneficial to use this time to perform some gentle stretches or settle down for a restorative yoga session.

Avoid caffeine late in the day

Depending on the individual, our bodies take anywhere between 1.5 hours and 9.5 hours to eliminate caffeine completely. So even an early evening coffee might keep you up at night. However, coffee is not the only beverage that contains caffeine. While a cup of coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine, an average cup of black tea contains around 47mg of caffeine. Green tea, too, contains 33mg of caffeine per cup. So if you’re having a cup of post-dinner bubble tea, you might very well be exposing yourself to more caffeine than you should be. If you wish to enjoy a calming, hot beverage in the evening, consider brewing caffeine-free infusions such as camomile, rooibos, ginger, peppermint, and chrysanthemum.

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