You’re busy. I know. You’re hustling hard, juggling it all: multitasking, overwhelmed, overworked, overbooked, and running ragged. Which means sleep can be one of the first things you sacrifice. But cheating on sleep could yield way bigger problems than bags under your eyes (although that IS a legit problem!). According to Dr. Eric Olsen, “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”
As I’ve shared in my book, Where in the OM Am I?, being overwhelmed, overworked, and overbooked were all too familiar when I worked a high-stress corporate job. Now as an author, speaker, and national yoga teacher, I travel around the country sharing how to use yoga tools to find life balance, direction, and fulfillment. Getting restful sleep—and enough of it—is a pillar of overall wellness, and the topic of one of my most popular workshops, “Sleep Hacks: How to Power Down, Tune In, and Experience Profound Rest.”
If you’re wrestling with insomnia, the first step is to shift your thinking and get to the root cause of what’s going on. Next, start to make positive, powerful changes.
Here are 3 of my favorite tools to help you create a Bedtime Ritual that will calm your mind and prepare your body for restful sleep. The best part? They’re quick, easy, and actually enjoyable.
- Apply lavender oil to your pulse points in a slow, mindful, intentional way. Dim the lights, signaling to the brain that it’s time to wind down, then gently, slowly apply it to these four points: your inner wrists, the crease of your elbow, the sides of your throat, and the center of your chest. Apply it in gentle circles in rhythm with your slow, deep breaths. If you only have time to do one point, apply to the wrists.
Clinical studies prove this deepens and lengthens sleep compared to the control group, as published by the National Institutes of Health and takes about 19 minutes to get into your bloodstream. So half an hour before you head to bed, try this soothing evening oil routine.
My favorite is Stress-Less by the award-winning Organic Bath Co. They tested over 20 kinds of lavender before choosing this relaxation-inducing variety. If you do this every night, the soothing scent will soon signal your brain it’s time to rest even before you’re in bed.
- Next, ease into this restorative yoga pose: Place a pillow under your knees and another under your head. Make any adjustments you need to get extra comfortable. You can do this on your mat or in your bed. Cover yourself with a blanket, place an eye pillow over your eyes, another pillow on your belly. Allow these gentle weights to help you feel grounded and centered, and studies indicate the weight of them may facilitate sleep.
- Begin an extended-exhale pranayama (breathwork practice). This stimulates the vagus nerve, the largest nerve into the central nervous system, and sends a “relax-rest-digest” message to your brain. Breathe in for a slow, calming count of 3, and out for 4, 5, or 6. Try a few rounds. Then gently add in the mantra “Let go.” Inhale and “Let,” exhale, “go.” Inhale and “Let,” exhale, “go.” Let…go. Let…go of anything weighing on your mind with every cycle. Continue as you drift off.
I designed these sleep hacks to fit easily into your evening. The goal isn’t to give you yet another thing you have to make room for in your already-busy life, but rather to offer easy-to-implement, powerful tools that will help you rest deeply, restore, and rejuvenate.