Story by Sigourney Cantelo
I’ve always been a bad sleeper. It seemed to get worse after I had babies and started a business. There’s always something to worry about in the wee hours of the morning and problems seem so much larger at night. It’s been a goal of mine for the last few years to sort out my insomnia so I’ve been trying everything to get better sleep and you know what? I think I’ve cracked it. Most nights I’m out like a light. Here are some tricks that helped me.
MAKE YOUR BEDROOM A DREAMY HAVEN
Here’s a fun one! Make your bedroom a haven by introducing a series of rituals that tell your brain it’s time to wind down for sleep.
Start with a big cushy bed, or if you don’t have one, add a mattress topper. I bought the Bambillo, and I’m obsessed! It transformed my droopy ten-year-old mattress into a bona fide cloud.
Sheets are also important. I alternate between Ettitude Bamboo Sheets (SO soft, you have to try them) and gorgeous white linen. I just got a new set from Bed Threads - an Aussie company that makes 100% French Flax Linen at accessible prices.
Keep the colour palette in your bedroom soft and muted – think grey, soft blue, dusky pink and keep the lighting low. Make sure you have a supportive pillow – I like a down and feather combo, and I plump it daily to keep it in good shape.
START A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Make sure you switch your screens off an hour before bedtime including TV’s, phones and iPads. Blue light disrupts your circadian rhythms and keeps you awake.
If you like to read digitally, invest in a Kindle and use it without the backlight (make sure your lights are dimmed). If you really want to prevent blue-light exposure, buy a pair of Swannies glasses and use while reading and watching TV.
If you have time, take a bath with some Epsom salts and a few drops of Lavender oil before bed. Both of these easy to source products reduce stress and calm the nervous system. You can also slather on a Lavender scented body oil or lotion, and another favourite is the Maison Saine Goodnight Gorgeous Calming Mist which you can use on your body and linen. I also have an atomiser going at bedtime with some Lavender oil.
MEDITATE AND BREATHE
Meditation has been a lifesaver for me when it comes to sleep! I did a course in Vedic Meditation, and when I practice daily, I find I fall asleep faster and stay there longer. There are some great apps out there to help too – Calm and Headspace are both winners. If you’re not up for a full meditation session, just doing some breathing techniques is a great way to still your mind.
I recently had a session at Crown Spa Melbourne with their visiting wellness consultant, Sohal Shah. He emphasised the importance of breathing for relaxation.
“Breathing techniques, like slower deeper breathing can help your sleep. Inhale deeply, hold your breath and take your time to exhale (almost double the time you take for inhalation)”, the naturopath and Ayurvedic doctor explains. “By deep breathing before bedtime, you are mimicking the breathing patterns of sleep onset, and nudging your body and mind toward its important period of rest.”
PULL SOME YOGA MOVES
Shah also believes that some gentle yoga moves can help lull you into sleep.
“The relaxation effect of yoga comes from stretching your muscles. In Yogic language, we refer to it as opening up of Nadis (Energy channels). Gentle yoga stretching, coordinated with breathing techniques is a great bedtime ritual.”
GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
There’s nothing more relaxing than a massage or spa treatment to set your body up for sleep. I recently experienced the Subtle Energies Sleep Support Journey at Crown Spa Perth, and it was game-changing.
The Journey starts with guided meditation, followed by a Blissful Marma Massage which includes the Ayurvedic techniques of Nasya (nasal oil application) and Shirodhara to help stimulate the natural production of melanin.
Before bed, I use Subtle Energies Nasya Oil which comes in the Sleep Prescription Kit (available at the spa). This ancient Ayurvedic technique lubricates the nasal passage and sinuses and is believed to balance the body and mind.
I also do a little nightly facial massage with the Subtle Energies Facial Oil Blend, my favourite product in their range. Since this has become a part of my routine, the incredible Mogra Jasmine scent now signals to my brain that it’s time for sleep. It’s these little bedtime habits that can make a huge difference.