Handy Hints for Restful Sleep

We have all had those nights where no matter how hard we try, or how much we toss and turn, we just can’t sleep. As the night goes on and the more desperately we want it, the more elusive sleep becomes.

With a decent night’s sleep we feel as though we can conquer anything and the world somehow seems a brighter place. String together a few nights with little to no sleep and everything seems harder and the shine seems to dull in life. Our fuse becomes a little (ok sometimes a lot!) shorter and if you’re anything like me, you tend to eat more and it’s usually food of the less nutritious kind (aka chocolate). Sleep provides a tonic for the mind and body like no other.

At any given time 1.5 million adult Australians are affected by sleep disorders. A report commissioned by the Sleep Health Institute found sleep disorders cost the Australian economy more than $5.1 billion a year 1 and the personal toll on our bodies and minds can be significant.

The benefits of sleep include: 2

  • Improved memory and learning capacity.
  • Metabolism and weight – the hormone ghrelin which makes us feel hungry is increased when we are tired.
  • Improves our judgement, perception and mood.
  • Improves our efficiency and productivity.
  • Lack of sleep increases the risk of serious accidents and injuries on the road and in the workplace.

Tips to help you get a restful night’s sleep: 3

  • Get some exercise during the day as it helps promotes restful sleep. Ideally finish exercising at least 3 hours prior to bed time.
  • Avoid caffeinated products for 4 to 6 hours prior to bed time.
  • Limit your alcohol intake to no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day and avoid drinking any within 3 hours of bed time.
  • Avoid going to bed on an empty or full stomach, ideally finishing dinner several hours before bed time.
  • Create a cool, dark and quiet environment in the bedroom conducive to sleep.
  • Keep computers and phones out of the bedroom. The blue light devices emit have also been shown to suppress melatonin secretion which affects our circadian rhythms (body clock).
  • Research has shown inhaling essential oils such as bergamot, lavender, valerian and lemon can be a safe, cost effective therapy for sleep disturbances.4
  • Create a calming routine in the lead up to bed time. Take a bath or shower, read a book, take a moment to do some mindful breathing or simple relaxation exercises (e.g. extending your legs up the wall).
  • Go to bed at a consistent time to help set your internal clock.
  • If you’re not asleep within 20 minutes, go to another room and do something you find relaxing so as not to get frustrated that you’re not asleep yet.

As with all things health and wellbeing related, give each approach a go and see what works for you. We are all different and unique and what works a dream for one person may not for another.

Wishing you a deep and restful sleep.

Sonia


Footnotes:

  1. http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/component/content/article.html?id=76:research
  2. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep
  3. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips
  4. Lillehei A.S., and Halcon L.L. A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. June 2014, 20(6): 441-451. doi:10.1089/acm.2013.0311.

Posted on November 5, 2015 and filed under sleep.

The Secrets to Flying

eagle-soaring-sky.jpg

As a child, did you ever dream of flying? Growing up, I remember watching the birds flying above and wondering what it would feel like to fly, freely soaring through the air looking down on the world below. I remember the child-like shenanigans my sister and I used to get up to trying to emulate that feeling – running and jumping off things, climbing the tallest tree we could find to get a bird's eye view and experience that exhilarating, head rushing feeling of being up high.

Last week after 40 (or so!) years, I finally got to fly free. I didn't suddenly develop the bird like wings I dreamt about as a child, but the feeling was just as I had imagined it to be – liberating, free and victorious. I also learnt that achieving this feeling took more than it did as a carefree child who didn’t worry much about the potential for bumps and scrapes! My logical, rational, educated mind had entered the equation.

What I learnt through the AcroYoga workshop was that there are three key ingredients we can all develop to soar and fly free in our everyday lives:

The Base

The physical support for the flyer. It is essential to have a solid, grounded base and foundation in order to fly. You need to implicitly TRUST your base, your foundation and surrender to their strength. You need to develop those strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills and speak up when things don't feel quite right or balanced and be prepared to tweak things based on the feedback to enable you to fly.

The Spotter

The person (or team) who is there looking out for you, offering you physical support should you wobble. This is the person standing back a little, with a different perspective on the situation, who is ready to offer advice and handy tips knowing you will offer the same support to them when it’s their time to fly. The person who will catch you if you fall and give you feedback on how to refine things next time so you can soar. 

acro-yoga.jpg

The Flyer

The secret to flying is that ‘give it a go’ attitude. Trusting your foundations are strong, knowing you have someone there to watch your back and then committing to fly. As soon as doubt or uncertainty creep in, the wobbles start. Visualising where you want to be speeds up the transition from launch to flight. AND as I learnt from experience, should you fall, the key is not to resist it – fall lightly and roll with it so you are able to bounce back more easily and get back on your feet faster. Look at what needs to be tweaked and give it another go!

In a nutshell, the secrets to soaring like an eagle in any area of life are: ensure your foundation is strong, you have a support crew to watch out for you, and commit to it.

In a nutshell, the secrets to soaring like an eagle in any area of life are: ensure your foundation is strong, you have a support crew to watch out for you, and commit to it. Once in flight, take a moment to savour the view, the liberating, empowering feeling of doing what many others only dream of and celebrate your accomplishments!

Sonia

 

Posted on July 13, 2015 .

Triggers to Breathe Deeply

Sometimes we need little reminders in life. Reminders to guide us back on track when we’ve got caught up in the day-to-day aspects of life. When we’re feeling stressed, things which can remind us to stop and take a big deep breath, to bring us into the present moment.

Stress is often brought about by our projections, worries or fears for the future, or something we have held onto from the past. It can lead to feeling overloaded, overwhelmed, tense and worried. Stress isn’t all bad and it can have benefits. It can help us get a task done, or meet a deadline. However, if out of balance, it can also have a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing.

When we’re stressed, we typically breathe faster, shallower breaths from higher up in the chest. Whereas our natural innate way of breathing is deep from the belly, the way a newborn baby breathes. If this way of breathing becomes an entrenched pattern it can then become a bit of a chicken and egg scenario – which came first – the breathing contributing to the stressed feeling, or the stress further reinforcing that way of breathing?

One of my ‘gentle reminders’ to breathe deeply and practice mindfulness is wearing a mala bead bracelet. It’s my trigger when I feel it or see it on my wrist to check in with myself. Am I breathing deeply and taking full deep belly breaths? Am I practicing mindfulness and remaining in the moment or thinking of my ‘to do list’, not being present in the right here and now? I definitely can’t say it’s a cure all and I have the Zen of a Buddhist monk 24/7, however I have noticed that having a gentle reminder to check in has made a big difference.

Physical triggers which can serve as reminders to stop and check in on our breath:

  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • Headaches
  • Feeling irritable, grumpy or short tempered
  • Tension and stiffness across the shoulders and neck
  • Ideally we can check in and use the breath to help restore peace and calm before stress manifests itself physically.

Here are some things which can serve as gentle reminders to breathe deeply from the belly:

  • Pop a sign on the fridge
  • Check in when you are stopped at the traffic lights
  • Before going to bed at night
  • At the start of each day
  • If doing a long stretch on the computer, set an alarm on your phone to pause and check in on your breathing
  • On your screen saver
  • Post-it notes on your computer, phone or bathroom mirror.

I’ll be sharing more on future blogs about different breathing techniques which can be used, plus other handy tips.

Until then,

Wishing you peace.

Sonia

Posted on March 9, 2015 .

Making This Year Your Brightest Yet

Have you reached a couple of months into this year and fallen into the same patterns as previous years? Or do you want to feel differently in yourself this year? Perhaps more inner peace, more meaningful connection with friends?

Here are some tips which will help ensure this year is your best year yet. Despite March being on our doorsteps, it’s never too late to live the life you were destined to live!

 

Reflect on 2014

  • What were the magical memorable moments, the highlights of the year?
  • What worked well?
  • What no longer serves you (habits, attitudes, limiting beliefs)?
  • What can you let go of?

 

 Gratitude

The Law of attraction states that what we think about we attract whether it be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Gratitude is like a magnet and when we are truly grateful for the blessings in our lives it attracts more of the good stuff in to our life.

How to include gratitude in your daily life:

  • Gratitude journaling – the daily ritual of first thing in the morning or last thing at night recording the blessings and things you are grateful for that day
  • Giving thanks for and noticing the ‘little pleasures and wonders’ in life
  • Saying thank you to those who help you.

 

Your big WHY – what you value and what is most important to you

When your goals and intentions are aligned with your values life is more harmonious and flowing. When we have that big WHY it helps foster our creativity and ingenuity to work out HOW we are going to do it.

An example of this was when I had a new car on my vision board 2 years ago. A new larger car with more storage space represented fun holidays away with the girls where we had space for our camping gear or surf boards. So my big WHY was fun, adventure times with my family. This was what fuelled and helped motivate me to my goal. It certainly wasn't the 1.4 litre engine or the 7 speed DSG transmission!

What are your big WHYs?

 

What do you want to Be, Experience or Have this year?

Have a notepad and pen handy. Close your eyes and take a moment to observe your breath. Slow down your breath. Imagine you could be, experience or have anything you wanted this year. The possibilities are endless. What does your heart and soul long for? What would nourish and fill you up? What would you like to share? What is your unique contribution going to be? Are there any new skills you want to learn, do you want more time connecting in a meaningful way with family and friends, what do you want to experience?

AND why? How will you feel being, doing and experiencing those things.

Open your eyes and write down the things that flowed to you. Keep this list handy and add to it when things arise. Read it regularly. In the next post we'll cover what to do next- your daily rituals.

 

Your daily rituals and routines

The things you can do on a daily basis to help manifest these blessings into your life.

Some examples:

  • Practicing gratitude for the blessings you already have
  • Review your Be, Experience and Have lists
  • Take an action step to move closer toward it – make the call you’ve been putting off, connect with someone via email, etc.
  • Meditate
  • TRUST in the universe – that it will manifest at the time that is right for you.

It’s the things we do, the daily habits we have, our thoughts and beliefs which can either help us move closer to what we want to attract into our lives or further from it.

 

Affirmations

In any given day we think around 50,000 thoughts. Affirmations are a way of immersing ourselves in positive energy, drawing into our lives what we desire.

Affirmations are like placing an order with the universe on how we want to feel or what we want to manifest in our lives and believing and acting as though that’s the way things are.

Design your affirmation statements in the positive as if you're already there and keep it short so its easy to remember.

Say them out loud to yourself, write them, sing them in the shower, have them as your screensaver, stick them on your mirror, put post-it notes in your diary or on your computer monitor etc.

Immerse yourself in them!

Your thoughts become your reality. Make those 50,000 thoughts a day be ones which support you and nourish you.

 

Your support team

Surround yourself with people who lift you up. People who inspire you, encourage you and support you living your dreams. People who are there for you in the good times and when the tests come. People who will hold you accountable to your word and to your dreams.

And importantly, reciprocate. Be that person for others. It's easier and more enjoyable as part of a dynamic team or group.

 

Wishing you your brightest, most, fulfilling year yet!

Sonia

 

Posted on March 8, 2015 .