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Mindful Sleep

Many years ago, I had such worry and stress in my life, that it became almost impossible to sleep, so I was an insomniac for almost a year and a half. Clearly this is a time before I was mindful of what I was letting into my mind. I struggled to relax enough to fall asleep and stay asleep.I would worry about work, family, health and money or relationships and couldn't stop the garble in my head. Then I would worry about being tired the next day and not be able to work properly. It was a vicious cycle. It took a huge lightbulb moment for me to realise everything was out of perspective and I needed to chill. Right now.

For me the lightbulb moment was 9/11. I was awake when I saw the planes hit those towers and everything I had been concerned about just vanished. That's where I believe my true awakening to mindfulness and staying in the now really began, I just didn't know the words. So I can say through experience that you can get a good nights sleep (even if it's only a few good hours if you have kids like me), and the techniques are easy and free.

Mindfulness means being aware of present moment and focusing on the now, that alone can help reduce anxiety and stress. So applying it to your bedtime routine is essential, I think.The basics are; an hour before bed, dim the lights in your lounge or bedroom, we want to send messages to our brain that its time to snooze very soon.

Secondly and most importantly, turn off all screens, no TV, tablets, phone or computers and perhaps put your phone at the other end of your bedroom, we don't need temptation. It has been found that consuming any type of social media before bed hinders a good sleep routine and in fact just heightens your brain wiring. You can of course read a good book, but I find nothing gruesome or technical before bed helps to relax the mind. Or why not try some soothing music.

Thirdly, do some mindful meditation and then focus on your breath. Doing these two back to back really creates a head space of calm and peace. And finally, I always believe that a clean and uncluttered bedroom is a must. If you try to sleep in chaos, well, it will be hard. Revamp your bedroom space, nothing fancy, just tidy it up, bring in some soothing colours or keep it simple and white. Put some nice scents in the room, lavender essence on your pillow for example. And my favourite trick, which helps me get chilled in bed, is clean crisp sheets. You see your environment makes a huge difference. Chaos is chaos in any language. Keep things, simple, clean and uncluttered.

Remember we want to calm your busy mind and move away from worry. A relaxed state of mind should help you fall asleep easier. You've been in the 'doing' mode all day, now imagine you turn the dial on your brain to 'being' mode. Just being, knowing there's nothing you can do now but rest. The day is over, the past is done. A new day begins tomorrow, with fresh starts and a clean slate. Now is all you have. And now it's time for sleep, to aid the body in recharging. If you are still finding it tricky to relax into sleep, don't count sheep, instead close your eyes and imagine the thoughts you can't quieten, are clouds - white and grey, white are happy thoughts and grey more worrisome ones. Be the observer of the clouds, as Eckhart Tolle would say and watch them passing each other, they are not attached to you, they are just clouds. Watch them and with your breath, blow them all into the distance until it's a clear sky, release the thoughts.

It can take time and patience, but if you try this for a week even, you will at minimum notice you feel calmer. Just stay in the now. Picture the word NOW in capitals. then see it fade to white as you close your eyes. I have created a mindful meditation video which can help getting into the relaxed state, Il'll be posting that soon.Sleep is a sacred time to recharge and restore yourself. It's part of self care and it's very important, try mindfulness, what have you got to lose, mores the point, you can gain some good shut eye.

* Please note, I'm not a qualified psychologist or doctor, all themes in this blog are just my beliefs from my personal experience and research. If you feel you need medical help always seek a qualified expert.

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