The basics of sleep hygiene.
Our sleep habits, oftentimes referred to as sleep hygiene, can play a major role in helping us prioritize our sleep. A few small changes can make all the difference, like:
- Setting ourselves up for success during the day by getting some exercise, avoiding caffeine in the afternoons (this is one of the reasons why we LOVE to drink a booch in the afternoon), and eating dinner on the earlier side.
- Making our bed as luxurious and comfortable as we can, so we can associate it with sleep.
- Carving out time to have a consistent sleep cycle. Waking up and going to bed at the same time daily. This sense of consistency is really important.
- Giving ourselves at least 30 minutes to unwind before bed. We like to relax by reading a book we can luxuriate in, brewing a cup of herbal tea, or taking a bath with epsom salt.
- In fact, research has shown that a 20 minute hot bath elevates the body’s temperature so that when we get out of the bath our body has to work to cool down. This sends a soporific signal to our body to go to sleep.
- In turn, if we can keep our room temperature at 65 degrees, our body temp will lower and cross that threshold to signal our body to go into slumber.
When it comes to sleep, what’s better: Quantity or quality?
Interestingly, quality and quantity play a role in good sleep. In general, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. And the quality of our sleep can range depending on what phase we’re in.
Sleep tracker apps can help measure quality of sleep and help us find correlations with our daily lives and how it affects our sleep. Without a sleep tracker app, measuring the quality of our sleep can be as easy as paying attention. Taking a moment to note when we have good sleep, bad sleep, and what the differences are between them.
For those of us who don’t remember our dreams, how can we dive deeper into that world?
It has been found that having confidence that you will remember your dream actually helps you remember your dream. Before going to bed, try telling yourself “I will remember this dream in the morning.” Have something on your bedside to record your dreams. Some people might use a notebook, dream app on the phone, or voice recordings – all options are good. Sometimes dreams can be so epic that we can’t write them down fast enough, which is why the voice recorder on your phone can be handy for recording dreams. Whatever you choose it’s important to have as few barriers between your dream and recording the dream as possible.
It’s thought that after the first 10 minutes of waking up, 50% of your dream memories will have evaporated. If you don’t capture it, it’s gone. So these first 10 minutes are crucial for dream recognition. Stay in bed and roll over in your mind anything you can remember. This is where state-dependent memory can come into play. For instance if you wake up on your back but you’re a side-sleeper, gently turn back to your side and see if that can help you remember your dream. After recording our dreams, we can then transcribe them into a dream journal. This gives us the opportunity to revisit them.
Using dreams to process emotion and have a deeper understanding of our lives.
Oftentimes we dream about the things that are on our minds. Stephanie recommends looking at what arose in our dreams and asking ourselves:
- How can I put my dream into the context of my waking life?
- What answers does that give me?
- What other perspectives does my dream provide?
- What is my unconscious mind adding to the conversation?
Tuning into and paying attention to our dream life is a form of mindfulness.
A mindfulness practice for those who have a hard time sleeping:
- Starting with your feet and working your way up the body, focus on one area of your body.
- Feel into that part of your body while repeating “my feet are getting heavy,” “my legs are heavy,” etc…
- As you work your way up the body, you will begin to feel progressive muscle relaxation.
Because, like anything you want to improve, you have to make it a practice.
About Stephanie Gailing
Stephanie Gailing is a wellness consultant, astrologer, and author with more than 25 years of experience. Her unique approach to healing weaves together compassion-based coaching, wellness strategies, dreamwork, and astrological insights. In addition to working directly with individuals, couples, and organizations throughout the world, Stephanie regularly teaches workshops and writes about holistic well-being, inspiring her audience with ways to live their dream life. Co-host of the So Divine! podcast, Stephanie is the author of The Complete Book of Dreams and the forthcoming book The Complete Guide to Astrological Self-Care. She holds a Certificate in EcoPsychology from Pacifica University, an Advanced Diploma in Coaching from New York University, and an MS in Nutrition from Bastyr University. Stephanie lives in Seattle with her husband Sebastiano.