The Sleep Mental Health Map contains techniques designed to help address some of the fundamental reasons why we may have trouble sleeping.
Sleep is a fundamental part of our daily routine and is crucial for our mental and physical health. However, when our sleep is disturbed, be it the odd night or consistently, the negative effects are often felt. These can range from irritability and poor concentration to fatigue and low mood.
The Map contains exercises to help structure our evenings in a way that is conducive to sleep, techniques to help us let go of our worries that keep us awake at night and a hypnosis to help us get off to sleep.
Download the Sleep Mental Health Map PDF's HERE
MORNING SLEEP HYGEINE
Set yourself up for peace, purpose and success with a wake up routine.
When? - When you wake up.
How? - Decide on a regular time you want to wake up and use your phone, waking App or favourite music to rouse you from sleep.
Why? - Keeping consistent times for going to sleep and waking up is one of the most important factors in maintaining a good sleep pattern. Tempting though it may be to hit the snooze button - DON’T, set the alarm for when you intend to get up, then turn it off and get out of bed. Try to get as much natural light as possible as you start your day as this sends a signal to your brain that it is daytime.
Set a positive affirmation in the morning to help frame the rest of your day.
When? - At the start of your day.
How? - Affirmations are positive statements used to encourage and motivate. They should resonate, inspire and uplift the soul. Done regularly this practice can create more helpful thinking patterns and more positive feelings and behaviours.
Say it, feel it, act it!
I will embrace my new sleep routine
I am strong and confident
I have the courage to change what I need in my life
I trust life’s journey and I have trust in me
Why? - Words have energy and repeating positive affirmations can have a powerful impact over the way you think and feel. Setting affirmations in the morning can determine how you approach the day and, in turn, how the day treats you. Ever started the day off on the wrong foot? Perhaps you had a bad night’s sleep and woke up late, tired and full of emotions. This unwelcome start can often follow us throughout the day and it takes a concerted effort to refocus from the negative back to the positive.
Take exercise to get your blood pumping and boost your chance of a good night’s sleep.
When? - Mid-morning.
How? - There is no specific exercise to enhance sleep, but these three activities are proven to help with sleep.
Aerobic. Any activity that gets your heart rate up even for short periods of time. This can be as simple as a brisk walk.
- Strength training. Building muscle has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, helping you fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently throughout the night. This can be as simple as exercises utilising your own body weight.
- Yoga. The poses, stretches and breathing techniques used in this ancient discipline are beneficial to help ground and calm you.
Why? - Exercise has many positive health benefits. Being active requires us to expend energy which makes us feel more tired and ready for bed at the end of the day. Exercise in the morning is preferable to evening as an alert and energised body and mind is not conducive to sleep. Taking regular exercise helps regulate different types of hormones in the body which all contribute to a good night’s sleep.
LEAVES ON THE STREAM
A calm, peaceful exercise where we practise letting go of our worries like leaves drifting by on a stream.
When? - Try this 15-minute exercise mid-morning. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed and try this relaxing cognitive distancing exercise.
How? - As we sit by an imaginary stream we put our thoughts, good or bad, onto leaves allowing them to float away rather than holding onto them.
Click HERE to play the Leaves On The Stream guided practice.
Why? - We will never be able to stop thoughts arising but cognitive distancing techniques like this teach us that thoughts are not facts, just mental events we can view, accept and let go.
After a busy long day, although we are ready for bed sometimes our minds are not. As we lay there, trying to wind down, thoughts about the day and worries about tomorrow can spin around and around preventing us from getting to sleep. At time like these, think back to this exercise and gently put those thoughts, one by one, onto leaves and watch them drift by.
3-MINUTE BREATHING SPACE
This exercise can be seen as an opportunity to check in on yourself, just as you would a good friend.
When? - Take a few minutes in the middle of the day to practice this short mindfulness exercise.
How? - Firstly, we become aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions with a sense of kindness and self-compassion whatever we find (be that tiredness, low mood or tension). We then focus our attention on our breathing, and lastly, expand our awareness back out to a sense of the body and our experience as a whole.
Click HERE to play the 3-Minute Breathing Space guided practice.
Why? - After a poor night’s sleep you might already be caught up in worry about if tonight will be the same. The 3-minute breathing space helps you step out of that mindset into the present moment creating an attitude of non-judgement, self-compassion and kindliness to your experience and yourself moving forwards.
EVENING SLEEP HYGIENE
Put the day to rest and wind down for bed.
When? - Start your routine after your evening meal.
How? - Setting an evening routine helps you wind down from a busy day, promotes restful sleep and sets you up for a successful day tomorrow.
Why? - Ending the day with a self-care routine filled with kindness and compassion can have a powerful impact on our mood and emotional well-being. It allows us to psychologically close the day, quietening the mind and preparing us for sleep.
Here are some suggestions for an evening sleep hygiene routine:
Write a plan and a to-do list for the following day
- Begin a skin care routine
- Lay your clothes out ready for the morning
- Review how your day went - perhaps write a gratitude diary
- Take a bath. There is something quite relaxing about a bath, especially with your favourite scented products
Set your devices down and put your digital day to rest.
When? - About one hour before you go to bed. However, digital down time can be taken at any time.
How? - Turn off phones, tablets and computers.
Why? - Constant connectivity to social media, work emails, the news and that ‘group chat’ can make it difficult to relax at the end of the day. In addition to this, the light emitted from our devices can directly inhibit the release of the sleep hormone melatonin which is crucial to falling asleep.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
A nasal breathing technique which benefits both mind and body and aids restful sleep.
When? - Just before bed.
How? - Whilst sitting comfortably you inhale through a nostril whilst blocking the other, then exhaling through the other nostril alternating sides as you breathe.
Click HERE to play the guided practice.
Why? - Using Alternate Nostril Breathing, even for a few minutes, can restore balance and settle the mind and body. It is particularly useful in helping you fall asleep at night.
This hypnosis recording focuses on hypnotic suggestions for deep, restful sleep.
When? - When it is time for sleep, once lying comfortably in bed.
How? - Close your eyes, think positively and go into a wonderful state of deep hypnotic relaxation and benefit from the hypnotic suggestions for restful sleep.
Click HERE to play the Sleep Hypnosis recording.
Why? - After a busy and stressful day it is no wonder we can find ourselves laying in bed worrying about one thing or another. Our minds can easily get caught up in these unhelpful thoughts, especially at bedtime when we stop and become still.
A racing, worried mind can make it very hard to fall asleep and get a full night’s rest. Sleep disturbances of this kind can not only lead to feeling tired and generally out of sorts the next day but also to us becoming anxious about sleep itself exacerbating the problem further.
Hypnosis focuses on allowing both the body and the mind to relax and let go of all anxiety making sleep possible.