An introduction to rhythms and cycles around sleep
By Alexandra Plane and Donna Gianniotis.
In our prior blog Do you have difficulty with sleep? we shared the WHY as to falling asleep or staying asleep can be difficult – the fact that the way we live throughout our day, i.e all the choices we make, has a direct relationship on the quality of sleep we get at night -, and discussed how this can be addressed with some simple and playful tips.
In this blog we are introducing the notions of “rhythms” and “cycles” around sleep and discuss how our “daily evening rhythms” can prepare us for a quality of sleep that is both deeply rejuvenating and healing.
We tend to think about our days in a linear way – i.e the beginning of the day being as we wake up and the end of the day being as we fall asleep. What if we were to consider our days not so much in a linear way, and rather in a cyclical way?
What if we considered the possibility that energetically the start of our day actually already well begins the day before? That how we prepare ourselves for bed is going to deeply affect both the quality of our sleep and how the day ahead will unfold? Could this influence how we prepare for bed and impulse us to unwind our days in a more conscious, responsible and self-loving way?
What if we took the time – or rather created the space – from early evening (or about 3 hours before our current bed time for the night owls or those on night shift work) to begin to wind down with a quality of presence/being that prepares us for both a rejuvenating and nurturing sleep, and a productive, joyful tomorrow? What would that look and feel like?
From our own experience, wind down time usually starts around 5.30pm-6pm. Often we can still be working at this time however we become very aware of not going into a drive or nervous tension to get things done. We begin to deepen in conscious presence (the mind being with the body in what we are doing) and become even more considerate – or rather more self-loving – with whatever we do and how we relate with others.
For some people it may be that the few hours preceding bed time they are still at work, for others they may be preparing the family evening meal, getting the kids to bed or commuting home. The evening (or those few hours prior to bed) is going to be different for each one of us and what is important is not WHAT we do, but rather HOW we attend to it.
How many of us tend to rush to get things done in the evening to have some “me” time, without the kids, without any work? Sounds familiar…? Could that “rushing” actually be counter-productive and unhealthy?
That “rushing” or “let’s get it done” way of being is running a pattern of energy in the body which drains our vitality, overstimulates our nervous system and takes us in disconnection with ourselves. With the resulting tiredness, exhaustion, excess in nervous tension accumulated in the body when we eventually get to the “me” time, it can then be quite difficult to re-connect deeply with ourselves and gently, lovingly wind down.
In the evening, the level of stress and dis-harmony accumulated in the body may have become so un-pleasant to feel that we would often go into the use of any form of distraction or numbing to NOT feel/be aware of it – TV, computer, over or wrong eating, alcohol to name a few -. Possible? That precious “me” time then loses in quality and the opportunity to reflect on the day, enjoy being with ourselves/those around us and prepare the body for deep rest are often missed.
By developing conscious presence (mind body together) throughout the day and then deepening it into your evening rhythm, you will find that the way you feel as you head to bed will be a very different quality of energy that will support you into a restful evening and good night sleep.
And what about living the future in the present by developing in your evening daily rhythms the quality of being that you want to be met with, enjoy as you wake up in the morning? Now, that is something special….
For our Top 10 tips for a good night sleep, read our next blog.