Having a good bedtime routine isn't just for babies who are sleep training. Its just as important for adults, whose minds are that much busier and over stimulated by the To do lists, social media, family, friends and work obligations. Everyone I speak to on a regular basis, be it friends or patients, seems to have trouble sleeping. While there are many reasons for this, the one I am focusing on this week is the habits we have prior to getting into bed.
Our body needs time to wind down from the day. We are being pulled in many directions at any given point in the day. Not just in our physical surroundings but in our thoughts and let's not forget the constant "ping" of our cell phones or other devices we keep around us. Even if we don't respond to the "Ping" right away, mentally we have noticed and are thinking about when to respond - "before, during or after this current thing I'm doing?". Then we have all the apps on our phone that keep updating us on every possible event, which keeps us on our phone, often aimlessly, looking at posts that make us then judge ourselves on where we are in life, our bodies, our level of success, our possessions, etc, which takes up even more needless space and time in our minds. Pulling us from what we really need to do, be present and appreciate what we have around us.
Needless to say, in order to wind down, you need to separate yourself from these daily distractions and give your mind a chance to quiet itself so your body can then release the proper hormones and chemicals needed to prepare for sleep and remain asleep. When sleep is affected, you'll eat more and make poorer choices with food, you'll be more irritable, perform worse at work and with activity/exercise/sport, you'll have a higher likelihood of injuring yourself or slow your recovery from injury, you'll lose focus more easily... the list goes on.
So one thing you can do for yourself is create a personal routine that allows you to disconnect, wind down and relax, preparing the Mind and Body for sleep. Everyone winds down differently and I'd like you to experiment with what works for you, perhaps its listening to calming music, or reading a book, or meditating, or doing some yoga or stretching. If you've never tried anything to wind down before bed, this could be in itself a stressful thing to try to do. My goal for you this week is to first take this one "Mindful May" step and in the time you've created for yourself by doing this, you can find an something to do to help you wind down:
Mindful May action this week is to disconnect from technology 15-30 minutes before bedtime, set the alarm for the next morning and don’t look at it again. Do anything else with your time, find something that helps you clear your mind like read a book, stretch, write down your gratitudes for the day...(feel free to send over any other wind down ideas!)
Mindful Move for the week:
In sitting and standing place your hands on your hips and tilt your pelvis back and forth like it’s a bowl your are trying to tip water out of.
I’m sitting on an exercise ball (which adds a little stability challenge) but you can also do it on a chair.
My hands are up so you see what my hips are doing but feel free to keep your hands by your side or on your hips to feel the rocking of the pelvis.
NOTE: in standing, Depending on how tight your hips are your movement might not be much. (See me for example) I have to consciously think about moving through the pelvis without swaying my whole body. My glutes and core are working hard against my VERY tight hip flexors and quads so my range is very small to avoid compensation like body sway (which does nothing for my lumbopelvic mobility) or overarching (which irritates my low back)
Try for 10 tilts in each direction 2-5 times per day this week. Inhale in one direction and exhale in the other.