A swirl of a black and white cat with his nose tucked into his tail.
Advice,  Meditation

How to Fall Asleep

Dear Friends, 

I’ve been quiet over here for a while because it’s a weird time and I haven’t been sure that I had anything helpful to say. However, I’ve decided to write to you today because I noticed there’s a problem lots of my friends are having that I can actually help with! Pretty much everyone I know has had trouble sleeping lately, and one of the few things I was really good at as a yoga teacher was putting people to sleep. At the end of all my yoga classes people used to fall asleep during our relaxation session. That used to worry me, but my teacher told me that if people fall asleep in yoga class it’s because they really need it, and I should be glad to provide them with a safe space to rest. Well, she was right, and now I get to use this weird talent to help you catch some Zs during this stressful and confusing time. 

Here’s a guided practice for falling asleep that I’ve recorded for you! 

Like the previous meditation I posted, this recording ends in silence, so if you fall asleep while listening to it, that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you don’t have your workout playlist cued up next! You might consider putting this on a playlist with some white noise for an easier transition to sleep if you find that sort of thing helpful. 

In addition to using a guided meditation practice, here are a few tips that I hope will help you set the stage for a deep and restful sleep.

  • Exercise at least a couple hours before bed. It’s best not to get too revved up with an aerobic workout before sleep because that will make it harder to settle down. The earlier in the day you work out, the more time you have for your body to settle down and be ready for sleep when the time comes. 
  • Avoid screens before sleep. Yes, I know we all do the late-night phone scroll. Try to break the habit! When it’s time to wind down for sleep, try reading a book or snuggling with a pet or loved one instead. 
  • Develop a bedtime routine. Feed the cat, set up the coffee pot for the morning, press start on the dishwasher — whatever you do at night to prepare yourself for a good next day can also help signal to your brain that it’s time to start getting quiet and prepare for rest. 
  • Dim the lights. In the evening, switch off big overhead lights, especially any that are intended to simulate daylight. Use minimal lighting, lamps, candles or overhead lights with a soft, warm tone rather than very bright lights. 
  • Engage your brain early in the day. Dig in to mentally challenging tasks during your waking hours. Whether that’s working from home, learning to sew face masks, or challenging yourself to learn a new language. Just like our muscles, our brains do hard work and burn energy. If you’re not engaging your brain as much as it’s accustomed to, you’ll likely find it harder to relax at night. 
  • Make a to-do list. If you’re lying awake at night thinking of all the things you have to do tomorrow, get up and write it down. Better yet, when you finish your work for the day, go ahead and make your list for tomorrow. Once your to-do items are written down, you can trust yourself to take care of them in the morning and you don’t have to lie awake thinking about it. 
  • Practice forward folds. Forward-bending postures such as a hamstring stretch, downward dog or child’s pose send calming signals to the brain and body and are very suitable for night time. Backwards bending movements such a fish pose or camel tend to be energizing and should be avoided right before bed. 
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine stays in your system longer than you might realize, and if you’re getting less physical activity than usual or you’re under more stress (and we all are right now!) caffeine will do you no favors. I suggest cutting caffeine out after 2 p.m. 
  • Don’t over-indulge. Sometimes a heavy meal or a strong drink will help us feel sleepy, but the truth is that over-indulging doesn’t produce good sleep. If you’re extremely full, your body is doing a lot of work to digest that food, and you may wake up in discomfort during the night. Similarly, drunkenness does not produce good sleep. Drunkenness is a state of struggle for the body and will likely make your next morning harder, so try to avoid it. This does not mean you need to go on a lockdown diet. Enjoy your meals, and be kind to your body.
  • Spend time in nature when possible. While digital entertainment is great for passing time, too much can contribute to the racing of our already over-active minds. Time spent in nature has the opposite effect, lifting the spirits and creating a sense of calm and well being. This helps reduce anxiety and quiet the mind for sleep.

I hope this helps someone out there get a decent night’s sleep.

Sending lots of love and sweet dreams to you all~

Mary