5 Sleep Improvement Strategies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
The title says it all, let’s go:
1. Yoga Before Bed
Prior to the fall of 2021, I had never been able to cultivate a consistent yoga practice. Though I usually felt pretty good after the very occasional yoga class, the amount of time and effort required just didn’t seem worth it. Then, on a whim, I tried doing a 35 minute yoga routine (similar to the one attached below) right before going to bed. The results were amazing. I fell asleep rapidly, had vivid dreams, and if I remember correctly, didn’t wake up once during the night. The same results have persisted just about every time I’ve repeated the practice.
Attached below is one of my favorite yoga routines. If you’d like to use it, or any other YouTube-based yoga practice, I’d recommend eventually memorizing them so you don’t need to stare at your screen right before bed. That said, I’ve found that the sleep boosting effects of yoga tend to cancel out most of the negative effects of pre-bed screen time.
2. Breath Jogging
Breath jogging is a practice I developed based off of Holotropic Breathwork. It is a form of medium strength breathwork that can be practiced while walking, sitting, or, it turns out, while struggling with insomnia.
The idea for it came to me one night while lying in bed, and unable to fall asleep. I decided to stop channeling my energy into thinking and to start channeling it into breathing that was slightly more deep and slightly more rapid than a normal rate. Before long, I was fast asleep.
I also use this breathing technique when racing thoughts come up during walks. After about five to ten minutes of it, I often experience some form of insight or emotional catharsis.
Again, to do this practice, simply breathe at a rate that is slightly deeper and faster than normal, about the depth and pace at which you would breathe if going for a light jog (hence the name).
3. Candle Lit Journaling
To do this practice, I turn out all lights in my house and light a few candles. I then sit with a paper journal and pen and write down any thoughts that come to mind. I’ll often set the timer on my phone for an hour or two, as I generally find that the best thoughts end up coming after an extended period of sitting, and feeling a bit bored and frustrated. Not surprising, given that boredom and frustration have both been linked to enhanced creativity.
- I generally just write down anything that comes to mind, but sometimes work with prompts as well. I’ve included a few of my favorites below, along with some of my answers:
What do you believe in?
- Face to face conversation, doing one thing for an extended period of time instead of frequently switching from task to task, letting go of that which I no longer use, cultivating somatic awareness, learning various forms of movement.
What do you value?
- Friendship, time spent in nature, music, the ocean, trees.
What do you love?
- Sailing, slack lining, guitar, speaking, traveling.
What is something you believe that plenty of other people might think is crazy?
- That there are non-physical aspects of reality, which cannot be detected by scientific instruments, but which nonetheless have significant effects on our state of mind, and our abilities to learn, move, and express ourselves.
4. The 10 Points Practice
This is a form of meditation which is very good at helping people who don’t get much from more traditional forms of meditation. I believe there are a good number of variations upon it, but this is the one that seems to work best for me.
As with the previous practices, I like to do it right before bed. It can be performed both sitting upright in a chair, or lying one one’s back, with knees up, and legs held together with a belt or yoga strap. If you search 10 Points Practice on Google Images, you’ll see what that looks like.
When I do this practice before bed, I rarely, if ever, wake up during the night. I also usually wake up around half an hour earlier than I would have had I not done the practice.
- The first couple times I did this practice prior to bed, I felt a little fuzzy for the first hour or so after waking up. These effects have since gone away for the most part.
- I think it’s best to initially listen to guided instructions for doing this practice, but to then let go of the guidance after you have the steps memorized. Same goes for just about every other guided meditation I’ve encountered.
5. Cold Showers and or Ice Baths
A few years ago, I was flipping through a section of a magazine in which entrepreneurs discussed strategies they employed to help them wind down at the end of the day. One such strategy was a cold shower right before bed. I eventually gave it a shot and was very impressed by the degree to which it calmed my mind and helped me fall asleep. I’ve found that ice baths before bed can have the same effect.
- For those like myself who often find it difficult to find the motivation to do cold exposure practices, I’d recommend turning down the temperature on the shower very incrementally, instead of going rapidly from hot to cold.
If you end up trying any of these practices and feel compelled, I’d love to hear if they worked for you. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- I offer evidence-based coaching which employs tangible strategies to boost learning rate, memory, creativity, productivity, energy levels, expressive abilities, and emotional wellbeing. If you would like a free 30 minute consult over zoom, please let me know by emailing me at email@example.com