Tips against sleeping problems
Luckily, I'm a regular sleeper. As long as I go to bed on time and get up early, I am in a rhythm in which I find rest. Once in a while I lie awake for a couple of hours, mostly because there is an annoying mosquito roaming around, or because for some reason I am very worried. Thoughts running through my head in circles and drawing disaster scenarios.
It's not nice to stare at the ceiling in the dark, knowing that you have to get up in a few hours and not turn a blind eye despite the tiredness! The next day it's not strange that everything goes a bit slower and you might start dozing off. There are a lot of people who can't fall asleep because of all kinds of circumstances. Maybe you're one of them. I hope the tips below can bring you some relief, even if it's just a little help.
Sleep with your window open
In an unventilated bedroom, the levels of carbon dioxide are rising rapidly. Because you spend about eight hours on average in this room, it is very important that it is well ventilated. This way some fresh wind can blow in, which will make you get up much fitter the next morning and give you an increased ability to concentrate, than if you were sleeping with the window closed.
The Power of Now
The last time I couldn't fall asleep and kept turning around and the blankets got tangled up, I finally got up. This doesn't make sense, I thought and walked downstairs. In the living room I turned on a small light and took a book that someone had recommended to me and which I had recently started reading: The Power of the Now, written by Eckhart Tolle. A book that has been in the spotlight for decades now and has received a lot of praise. I am still discovering the message the book conveys, although it seems to be very simple in essence.
I read about the mind, how it has appropriated more and more power and is tormenting us and keeping us small. Eckhart Tolle writes how this torment of our thoughts takes away precious life energy. When you are aware of these thoughts, these loops, these stories that your mind is constantly telling you, that are always about the past or the future, you may succeed in renouncing them for a while. I tried that night and noticed how complicated this was for me. Before I knew it I was back in a stream of thoughts that took me unnoticed.
In the book I read that emotions are a physical reaction to the thoughts you have. For example, I was worried about an event that might take place someday in the future and that I could imagine very vividly. Because of these thoughts and images I stiffened, my muscles cramped and feelings of fear and sadness arose. So for a moment it became very clear to me how you can make your life a hell, just by the dramatic play that (mainly) takes place in your head, but then can actually become reality, because you start acting on it. So, as an exercise, it is important to realize that you are not your mind, but that this is only an instrument. Consciousness is much greater and this is always "Being".
I can tell you that I felt a lot calmer after reading a few pages and meditating on this. So I fell asleep not much later.
Throw your smartphone out the window
Gigantically radical decisions for someone who lives in this day and age and has access to the latest technological gadgets. The convenience of a new smartphone model is, in a way, very pleasant. Everything you need... at your fingertips! Checking the weather, taking a nice picture, sending a message via Whatsapp, everyone does this so it's very normal. Still, I notice how my phone use looks suspiciously like an addiction, as well as nosing around in other people's lives. We all get to process huge amounts of information, every day again. In order to process all this, we need rest. When the mind has become so over-stimulated, it seems increasingly difficult to find the off switch. As a result, in the middle of the night you're still brooding about a story the smartphone brought you. Taking an old-fashioned mobile gives you the chance to use a phone just for what it's meant for: to call people and send them a message.
Drink a cup of Valerian tea before bedtime
Valerian officinalis is a herb that belongs to the family of honeysuckle. The part of the plant that is used are the roots. Valerian is a plant that has been known for centuries for its soothing properties. It has a nerve-quenching effect and is used as a sedative. Valerian helps to fall asleep, especially in people who are nervously overworked or irritated. In contrast to narcotics, you feel relaxed and refreshed the day after. The effect of Valerian is found in the volatile oils, so-called valepropriates. Until the advent of pharmaceuticals, the plant was often prescribed for anxiety and sleep problems. Nowadays Valerian is prescribed again as an alternative to benzodiazepines.
In the 16th century Valerian was also known as a plant with which perfume could be made. Cats also love the smell. Chances are that you won't find it such a pleasant scent. I still have to get used to it a bit, but the taste is fine, especially combined with some honey, or other herbs. It used to be believed that the smell of dried Valerian root could drive away evil spirits.
Tea made from the plant is also called magic sleeping potion. Valerian tea works very well to calm your head. It is not recommended to consume Valerian every day, because its effects can turn around and have a more depressing effect. I myself use it when I feel very restless in the evening and then it helps very well.
Valerian tea recipe
- Put 1 tablespoon of dried Valerian root into a tea pouch or tea bag.
- Bring water to the boil and leave to cool for a few minutes. Do not add boiling water to the plant, this will damage the active ingredients.
- Pour the water into a cup in which you have put the pouch or bag.
- Then let it soak for as long as you like. 2-3 minutes for a milder taste and effect, 5-10 minutes for a strong taste and effect.
There are other herbs you can add to Valerian, to get a balanced taste and the effect also slightly change. Damiana and Blue Lotus work as an aphrodisiac, which means that they give a sensual twist and provide extra relaxation. I myself like to combine Valerian with Skullcap when I have my period. Just like Valerian, Skullcap has a relieving effect on the pain and discomfort that we women can experience when it is this period of the month!
Take a cold shower in the morning
An ice-cold shower is healthy for your body and your mind. Especially if you slept badly that night, this is the best morning ritual you can implement to wake up. From my own experience I find that it is a very effective way to rinse off a restless night with, for example, scary dreams. This way I can start the day completely clean.
There are a lot of advantages to taking a cold shower every day:
- Higher level of vigilance. A cold shower makes your body alert, makes you breathe more deeply and brings more oxygen in your system. This allows you to focus and concentrate better throughout the day.
- Lowers your stress levels. By exposing your body to stress for a short moment you make yourself stronger. Although it is very unhealthy to expose yourself to stress for a long time, it is very healthy to experience short moments of stress. Cold showering gets your nervous system used to dealing with moderate stress moments, which makes it easier to keep calm.
- Self-discipline. Cold showering is a good training in self-discipline, because it requires some willpower from you. This trait has a lot to offer, for example learning that you don't have to be guided by the voices in your head all the time.
Cold showering is not a pleasant idea for many people. Summer time is therefore a good time to start, because it can then be experienced as refreshing. You can start with 30 seconds and eventually build up. For me, 30 seconds are more than enough at the moment!