Struggling to sleep? How to break a bad sleep cycle, without breaking the bank
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Expert comment from Nic Lenny, Studio owner and Pilates teacher
An August 2020 study from the University of Southampton showed the number of people experiencing insomnia and sleep difficulties rose from one in six to one in four during the pandemic, and identified “women with young children, key workers and people of BAME heritage” as the worst hit.
It is therefore no surprise that sleep seems to now occupy as much of the national conversations as weather - and in the past 12 months, sales of sleep-related products have soared, Holland & Barrett sales of products in the sleep and relaxation category have grown by over 30% year-on-year and it is predicted the market will be worth $163bn by 2030.
Founder of online Pilates studio, Nic Lenny (mum, business owner and previous sufferer of sleepless nights) shares her tips on how to break the bad sleep cycle, without breaking the bank as well as her favourite Pilates flow for promoting a calmer night’s sleep.
CONTROL YOUR BREATH
The para-sympathetic nervous system is the part of us that is responsible for resting and digesting (vs the sympathetic part which is responsible for fight, flight and freeze).
The only part of our para-sympathetic nervous system that we can control is via our breath. So as well as practicing good sleep hygiene (no caffeine, limited stimulating content even in books, no screen time, bed only for sex and sleep) practicing breath work so that it becomes an easy thing to tap into when you need it, will really help you to kick start your PSNS and calm your SNS. There are so many different sleep breath techniques out there, but I really like the 4, 7, 8 breath which makes my brain have to focus too so which quietens the noise of my busy chatty brain.
It’s super simple:
Breath in for 4 / Hold for 7 / Breath out for 8 and repeat
Another good tip is that the PSNS all lives in the back of your body so as you lie in bed can you focus on what your back, legs and arms are touching and let them sink a little deeper. Notice that doing this will naturally slow your breath too. Relax your jaw, focus on your breath and how it moves your body and allow yourself to slip into your body and out of your mind.
And if all else fails…GET UP!
Go into another room and do this there and when you feel sleepy, and only when you feel sleepy, go back to bed again. Otherwise you are training yourself that bed is for sleeplessness and not for rest.
I also love sleep oils such as Neon Sleep Spray. Or an Epsom Salt with Lavender bath before bed - the cooling of our hot body actually stimulates rest which is why we always bath babies before bed to help them to sleep!
READING (even on a screen!)
I know screen time is bad BUT there are times when I’ve got up with the kids and then am struggling to get off again and I’ve found reading the a BBC News long stories session is the best phone reading to do which still switches me off and doesn’t stimulate me to be more awake.