There is so much around sleep, how much we need, what time we should go to bed, what time we should wake, was the sleep enough… and the list goes on.
I love my sleep and what I have come to understand is that it’s not about having a minimum eight hours of sleep as most people would say, but about how the quality of sleep we have determines how much our body needs.
If my quality of sleep is very deep I find the less hours I require: my body will automatically wake me up once it has had enough of a deep sleep. My body tells me very clearly if the quality of my sleep was out, as I feel tired when I awaken.
I have come to learn from my body that the following things support the quality of my sleep.
- Ensuring that my body does not engage in stimulation after 6pm, and that my body automatically goes into wind down. It’s not about not working or stopping what I am doing, but more about not allowing myself to go into any form of stimulation; if I am at work, I bring my task and day to a gentle close. Anything that requires any form of stimulation I will leave till the next day.
- Ensuring the evening meal I eat is light and supportive. If my meal is heavy I find this also impacts my sleep – I will toss and turn in bed and often awaken feeling very tired. More and more I find that any form of sugar in the evening will affect my sleep and I will remain tired.
- Ensuring I allow myself time to wind down for bed and prepare for sleep. I ensure my bed is warm to climb into and I am wearing warm nightwear so I do not get cold in the night – if there is any cold it disrupts my sleep. The warmth allows my body to surrender deeply and it is very supportive of the quality of my sleep. To make my bed warm I use an electric blanket or a hot water bottle.
- I find the quality of my sleep is also improved by going to bed between 8pm and 9pm. There are some days when my body needs to go to bed earlier and I will honour that feeling. The earlier I go to bed, the deeper is my sleep and the less hours my body needs.
Our bodies are very clever and guide us in what is true for us. I have been experimenting with my sleep patterns and times for a while and it’s more recently I have come to understand what is really supportive for my body: I was finding that for a while I was going to bed early but still waking up exhausted. Firstly I looked at how I was preparing for sleep, then how I was winding down before I went to bed, followed by my food and how that was affecting my sleep.
Looking at the whole package allowed me to look at the quality of myself.
What I have come to understand is that the quality – in which we walk, talk and sleep – is what supports or impacts our body. It is very important to look at not just the quality of sleep but the quality of all our actions, as one choice feeds into the next.
By Amita Khurana, BA Honours, Hotel Business Owner, Director, Practitioner/Therapist, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk UK