Self-care and the holidays don’t seem to go together. Rather than trying to add a new activity to our schedules this month, let’s try to improve an already existing habit – sleep! One of the best things we can do for ourselves is get some good sleep. For most of us that is extra challenging during the holidays. Schedules are often packed with festivities, family time, and more socializing than usual. Sometimes family time and socializing can be restorative and energizing, but that isn’t always the case. It’s important to give ourselves time to rest and maximize our sleep during this magical, yet exhausting time of year.
Lama Tsomo recommends maximizing rest by creating a routine and sticking to it. Easier said than done, so here are some of her tips. Part of her method is to create a space where she sleeps best.
“I use black-out shades, so my room is pitch back, which is especially important in the summer due to the longer days. Along with that, our bodies are built for living within a rhythm, so it’s important to keep the rhythm the same every night, wise to keep the same wake and sleep times. I find that makes a huge difference. As a lifetime poor sleeper, I’ve found these simple ‘sleep hygiene’ methods extremely helpful!”
We can take Lama Tsomo’s advice and start by designing our sleeping space as we see fit, like setting the stage for a good night’s sleep.
A common obstacle between us and those recommended 7-9 hours of shut-eye is the ever-present phone. Though small enough to fit in our hands, phones can cause major sleep disruptions. Our phones connect us to the world, help us navigate, stay organized, and so much more. However, our phones often cut into precious sleep time. To combat this, Lama Tsomo uses amber glasses, which filter light from electronic devices, starting 90 minutes before she goes to bed. She writes, “It is important to cut out the blue light part of the spectrum because it suppresses melatonin, which is our ‘off-switch’ for going to bed.” Blue light can come from any screen. Click hereto read about blue light’s impact on sleep (“Blue Light and Sleep: What’s the Connection” by Kris Gunnars, BSc on healthline.com). Once we’ve created our ideal sleep space and gotten rid of our phones, we can start experimenting with nightly routines.
Here are more methods from the Namchak Crew:
· “A brief Vajrasattva practice with a mental run-down of my day – what went well (rejoice) and where my mind went off the rails. After identifying the areas where I was unskillful throughout the day, I perform Vajrasattva mantras while visualizing white light flooding through my body, purifying all negativities. Usually I fall asleep to these mantras and the white light.”
· “Take a hot shower, drink a cup of herbal tea, check-in with my kids, and play guitar.”
· “Read a real book (no screens!) and keep my phone out of bed.”
· “Make a to-do list for the next day, writing down anything I forgot to do that day. If I write it down, my mind will let it go.”
· “Listen to peaceful instrumental music (lyrics usually get my brain thinking).”
· “Watch an episode of “Seinfeld” to shut off my brain.”
· “Do a quick pick up of my room so that my space is somewhat organized.”
· “A simple 21-breath meditation where I count each breath until I reach 21 breaths, counting each exhale as one breath and pausing after each.”
· “Listen to an educational audio book or short story and avoid reading the news.”
· “Have a cup of chamomile tea.”
· “Complete a simple meditation or listen to music while washing the dishes.”
We hope these rituals will spark some ideas to help create or rejuvenate your nightly routine. There’s no right or wrong way to do your nightly routine. The most important point is to create one and stick to it. It’s easy to let routines slip when we have extra events in our schedules. If we look, we will always find something else to be accomplished. Our inboxes won’t stay empty for long, so we may as well relax, right?! In this month of busyness let’s try to make our bedtime routines a priority, so we can be fully present and enjoy the holidays.
Happy Holidays from the Namchak Crew!