Six easy ways to get your mind off sleep deprivation
Insomnia can make you feel like life is not worth living. Millions of people suffer as a result of this modern epidemic, with one in three people experiencing insomnia at some point in their lives. Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men, but whether this is due to sleep deprivation as a part of motherhood, or just modern life, is not known. Here are six healthy ways to kick sleep deprivation to the curb.
1. Avoid blue light in the evening
Looking at bright light before you go to bed has been proven to keep you awake at night. This is because exposure to bright light in the evening inhibits the natural release of melatonin – the sleep hormone. In addition to blackout curtains and blinds, you should avoid using your phone or the computer a few hours before bed. Light from mobile phones and tablets is short-wavelength-enriched, meaning it has a high concentration of blue light, and blue light has been shown to reduce melatonin levels more than any other type of light. If you need to use your phone or tablet before going to sleep you can put it on Night Shift mode, which will make the colour of the light warmer and less blue. If this is not an option, dimming the light on your device’s screen will also help.
2. Use essential oils and natural remedies
Aromatherapy is one of the easiest ways to create a relaxing environment in your home before bedtime. Essential oils that aid relaxation include lavender, marjoram, chamomile and lemongrass. Simply add a few drops to your oil burner or bath and let the fragrances work their magic. Drinking herbal teas with chamomile and other sedentary herbs is also a good trick, as is limiting your caffeine intake throughout the day. Herbal supplements containing hops can be taken an hour or so before bedtime and will help you drift off. Listening to relaxing sounds and guided sleep meditations can also help.
3. Try bedtime yoga asanas
Thirty minutes of gentle stretching and mindful practice before bed can help relieve tension in the muscles that has built up during the course of the day. Focusing on the breath and a steady inhale and exhale through the nose helps to calm the nervous system, reducing anxiety symptoms and making you feel feel grounded. You can find bedtime yoga routines on the web or guided sessions on YouTube. The best asanas to do before bedtime include legs-up-the-wall pose, easy forward bend, reclining butterfly, supine spinal twists and shavasana.
4. Practice alternate nostril breathing
Yogic breathing techniques, known as pranayama, can help to calm the nervous system and lower blood pressure. Calming techniques, such as Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing – can be practiced before bed or during the night if you wake up. The length of the inhale should be roughly the same as the exhale throughout the practice.
- Begin by taking a full, deep inhale followed by a slow, gentle exhale.
- Bring the right hand into Vishnu Mudra, by folding the tips of the index and middle fingers inward so that they are touching the palm, with the ring and little finger touching and lifting up. During this practice, you will alternately use the right thumb to close the right nostril and the right ring and little finger to close the left nostril.
- First, use the right thumb to close the right nostril. Exhale gently, but fully, through the left nostril. Keeping the right nostril closed, inhale through the left nostril.
- Next, use the ring and little fingers of the right hand to gently close the left nostril whilst releasing the right nostril. Exhale gently through the right nostril, pause comfortably at the bottom of the exhalation. Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale again through the right nostril.
- Then use the right thumb again to close the right nostril as you release the left nostril. Exhale slowly through the left nostril and pause at the bottom of the exhalation. This completes one round.
- Start the next round by inhaling through the left nostril. Repeat this alternating pattern for several more rounds.
5. Distract yourself by with an online game
Chronic sleep deprivation for new mums is another matter altogether; you can sniff all the lavender oil in the world, but if that little someone has colic you’re not getting any sleep – just accept it. At times likes those, when you know that you’re going to be woken up again, it can be better to accept defeat and partake in some amusing distractions. Reading a magazine, doing a crossword, or playing online lotteries can get your mind off things, and make the half hour or so before he wakes up again that much more pleasant. There’s no point in worrying about losing sleep or getting worked up into a state, try to enjoy the time that you are awake at night.
6. Try to see the funny side and share the pain
If this list of 20 things you may not know about chronic sleep deprivation sounds familiar, reading blogs like that one, joining chat rooms for new mums, and talking to other sleep-deprived souls can make you feel better.