Written by Roberta Whitney Hughes, Founder of PeaceFull Living and PeaceFull Living TV
A good night’s sleep is essential to your health and well-being. When your body receives 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night, your immune system is at its strongest. You wake with improved focus, more energy, and reduced stress levels. While you sleep, your body is able to restore, heal, and rest.
Travel Challenges Your Body’s Harmony
When you travel, your body’s natural harmony is challenged. The natural stress of travel makes it difficult for your body to rest. By planning ahead and learning techniques that support your body’s natural rhythms, you will be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep whether you are nestled in your own bed or away.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Creating a bedtime routine is essential to falling asleep, sleeping through the night, and getting a full 7.5-8 hours of rest. When you practice your routine regularly at home, you will find it easier to sleep well even when you travel.
Over the years, I have acquired a toolbox of techniques that have helped me sleep well whether I am home or traveling. These tools have become so familiar that I can add in or take out different ones to suit my situation. Not all of these tools are necessary, and they do not all need to be practiced routinely. If you were try all of the techniques together, you may never actually get to sleep!
Experiment and Practice
This is your time to play. Use my toolbox as a beginning. Experiment and gather the tools that work best for you. Using the tools that work well, create a bedtime routine that supports healthy rest and harmony. I recommend choosing two or three tools to form your bedtime routine. Practice your routine for at least a week to see if it makes any difference. If you aren’t getting the desired results, exchange or add tools that might help you; take out the tools that don’t work.
Be patient with the process. Give your body and mind time to adjust to the routine before adding or subtracting from it. Frequently changing the routine will keep you from understanding which parts of the routine are effective.
The Brain Responds to Familiarity
Your brain will respond to repetition and familiarity. Practice your routine every single night. Over time, the minute you begin your bedtime routine, your brain will automatically know that rest time is near. By the time you get into bed, your mind will be more capable of shutting down and going to sleep.
Set a bedtime and stick to it.
This might be the hardest technique on the list. I know that life is both busy and unpredictable. We can’t always control our circumstances to get to bed at the same time every night. Do your best to create the time and hold yourself accountable as often as you can.
Play music or white noise.
Music and white noise help drown out the sounds around you. When you are at home, the music or white noise will help reduce distracting sounds, allowing your mind to rest and relax. Then when you travel, the familiar sounds will minimize the disruption caused by distracting noises. When your brain can attach to something familiar, it will relax and find a place of rest.
When staying in a hotel, request a room in a quieter location.
You can call the hotel ahead of time to request a room in low-traffic areas; also request the room be located in area of the hotel with the least amount of noise and distractions. Repeat your request at check in. As a rule of thumb, avoid rooms near the elevator or overlooking the pool or a busy street. The higher up you go, the less you will hear noise from the outside world.
Have a cup of tea an hour before bed.
Warm herbal tea can be the magic trick to let your body know it is time to rest. My favorite bedtime tea recipe:
- 1 bag Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time Peach
- 1 bag Yogi Tea Ginger
- Steep in hot water 2-3 minutes until water becomes a medium warm color
- Flavor with local honey or Madahava agave
Do legs up the wall pose.
This pose helps calm the central nervous system. It also reverses the blood flow, slows the heart rate, and relieves stress on the low back. Set a timer and rest with your legs up the wall for five to ten minutes before getting into bed. This will bring your body and mind into a more restful state of being before trying to go to sleep.
If your mind gets busy when you lie down to sleep, it will help to give it something to do. Rather than letting your mind rule the roost, use the Countdown Meditaiton to give it a task. As your mind focuses on the technique it will let go of other thoughts. As thoughts slip away, your mind will settle into a more restful state.
Listen to a Sleep Meditation.
A sleep meditation will guide your mind and body into rest and leave you there to sleep. This practice will help if the Countdown Mediation is not effective for quieting your mind. Try the March 2021 Sleep Meditation on PeaceFull Living TV.
Apply essential oils.
My recipe for calming the mind and relaxing the body:
- 1 pea-size dot of Beauty Counter Hand Cream
- 1 drop Lavender oil
- 1 drop Frankincense oil
- Rub together in palms and apply to back and sides of neck, behind the ears, and squeeze earlobes and ears
- Rub palms together again, cup hands and place over eyes and nose; take three slow, deep breaths
Draw a hot epsom salt bath.
Take your bath at least an hour before bed. The hot water combined with one to two cups of Epsom salt will help the muscles relax and release tension. Soaking for 20-30 minutes lowers your heart rate and brings your body and mind into a restful place. Be sure to hydrate with cool water throughout your bath. When you get out of the tub, you can add Legs Up the Wall Pose to help your body cool down and get ready for sleep.
Take bedtime supplements.
A few years ago, my acupuncturist recommended a blend of supplements to help reduce anxiety. I have been taking these supplements regularly at bedtime and they help me sleep well. Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure these supplements are safe for you:
- 5 HTP
- GABBA Calm
Wear a sleep mask.
I have a silk sleep mask that I put on each night. It lets my brain know that sleep is near; it also blocks out the light. When the brain experiences complete darkness, you naturally produce melatonin, which helps you sleep.
Eat your last meal at least two hours before bedtime.
Your body needs energy to digest food. If you eat a big meal close to bedtime, your body will be hard at work when you try to go to sleep. Digestion can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.
If you avoid these at least two hours before bed, you are more able to have a good night’s sleep.
At least an hour before bed, reduce (eliminate completely if you can) screen time. Electronic stimulation keeps your mind active. Scrolling through social media, answering emails, and sending text messages close to bedtime will keep your mind active and awake. Try reading a book, journaling, or flipping through a magazine instead.
What if You Wake Up During the Night?
While all of these techniques will help your body and mind prepare for rest and fall asleep, what do you do if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep?
Laying in bed and tossing and turning is the worst thing you can do if you wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, try a combination of these techniques:
- Get out of bed and fix a cup of tea. Sit in a chair and sip it slowly, then go back to bed.
- Practice the Countdown Meditation when you get back in bed.
- Try Legs up the Wall Pose for 5-10 minutes
- Play a sleep meditation when you get back in bed.
- Rub lavender oil on your feet and behind your neck and ears.
What if you absolutely cannot fall back to sleep?
Sometimes it is best to just get out of bed and do something to support rest. Try a Yin Yoga class or do a Guided Meditaiton on PeaceFull Living TV. Both of these will support the body’s need for rest and help bring you into balance and harmony.