We’re focusing on the importance of sleep. Given the challenges and uncertainty that this year has brought, it’s important that we find time to rest and recharge. That’s why we’re connecting with wellness experts across Australia to share their tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
Meet Stephanie Williams. A Melbourne-based Yoga Teacher who practices yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep. It uses the process of sleep to help with meditation, allowing the mind to switch off so that the body can rest, heal and restore.
We asked Stephanie about how and why she started practicing yoga nidra.
I run a business called Kalpita Yoga. Specialising in women’s yoga and helping women connect with themselves in a positive, loving and empowering way.
I’ve practiced yoga nidra for many years especially when I have felt depleted and low in mood. During the first lockdown in Melbourne, my sleep became very patchy and I found it hard to fall asleep or get back to sleep after waking. So I started practicing everyday and embarked on my yoga nidra teacher training through Amrit Yoga Institute. The daily practice has helped me re-establish a good sleeping routine, and improved my energy, focus and mood balance drastically.
So how does it benefit our sleep?
Yoga nidra is a sleep like meditation that you get to do laying down and is accessible for everyone, no experience required! It uses the process of sleep and relaxation techniques to gradually relax the body and drop you into a deeply restorative space, similar to our deepest level of sleep. Balancing natural hormone patterns, retraining our bodies to move through all the brain wave states and most of all learning how to relax our body and mind all resulting in better quality sleep.
External stressors can negatively impact our sleep and wellness, how can we calm the mind and body when we’re feeling stressed?
When our body becomes heightened from stress it can be as if our body has forgotten how to switch from the fight, flight or freeze response into rest, digest and restore response.
Stress and tension aren’t bad for us as long as we are balancing them with relaxation, therefore if you are experiencing more external stress, make sure your body remembers how to relax. Yoga nidra is great as it helps the body remember how to relax so we can balance the stress we have experienced and over time and with practice our body becomes less sensitive to external stressors, meaning we stay calmer.
Stephanie’s top 5 tips for getting a better night’s sleep
1. Create a simple routine
One that works for your schedule. E.g. Phones off and down at 8pm, in bed by 9:30pm lights out at 10pm.
2. Lock your apps
Use this function on your phone from a certain time, so you don’t get tempted by the late-night scroll or see something that causes your brain to switch on like an email. I have downtime parameter on my phone set for 9pm-8am so I don’t get alerts from Facebook, Instagram, messages and emails. This also means my phone isn’t as tempting for my tired and unconscious brain to pick up and mindlessly consume.
3. Turn down the lights
Our body starts to release our sleepy hormone Melatonin, when the sun goes down and our eyes register less light, so bright lights and screens interrupt this natural pattern. By turning down the lights in your home and turning off screens at sunset or a few hours before bed, your body can naturally do what it knows how to do. This comes back to the routine and why locking your apps is helpful.
4. Get up at the same time
If you have been sleeping in without having much structure to your day, give yourself that structure by gently getting up earlier each day. This will help you feel sleepy in the evening at bedtime. Our bodies thrive on routine.
5. Practice yoga nidra
As you can tell I’m a big fan of yoga nidra, that is because it actually makes a difference. Helping you to switch off the thinking mind and letting go of tension in the body, will help you to get to sleep quicker and have the most restorative sleep. Plus, with a more restorative sleep that regular wake up time feels easier to maintain and you’ll learn tools that help you to relax the body when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Images by @andybbearphotography