We are all immersed in a culture dedicated to the clock, grounding us in the work day, ticking off the seconds when we should be doing, rushing here and there, giving up rest in order to be productive. This constant doing is taking a tremendous toll on our bodies, hearts and spirits.
There is another way of being in Time. What if time were a circle made up of 24 hours? Flowing and spiraling from dark to light and back to dark again. In the old ways, like the Celtic tradition, time is a 24 hour cycle where dusk is the beginning of the day, not the end. In this way, dusk and sleep are ways we prepare for the day to come. In this luminous, in between time, a few routines and rituals can support restorative rest and rejuvenation.
In fall and winter, there is more darkness, more hours to sleep and quite often, will all the life going on around us, this is a challenge. In Spring and Summer, there is just so much more light! We may feel the pull to do more and more and rest less and less.
Entering your Sleep Temple
One of the ways to begin creating a structure to support restorative and regenerative sleep is to take a look at your bedroom and your night stand by your bed.
What does it say about how you feel about your sleep, how you feel about your sanctuary?
What do you want it to say?
How would you feel if you created a sleep temple and sleep altar in your bedroom?
Take a look at your bedroom. You want to set it up so that it is your Inner Sanctuary, relaxing, calm and secure, a place for you to completely release yourself to your sleep and your dreams.
Choose comfortable and loose fitting clothing, or nothing, to sleep in. Keep your bed sheets clean, comfortable and cozy.
Avoid clutter and mess in your bedroom. Clutter has a way of disrupting your mind and blocking your deeper connections to the Web of Life.
The electromagnetic disturbance that come from TV’s, computers and other devices creates static in your energetic field. If possible remove them from your room or place them on the floor away from your head.
Set up your room so you have fresh air and good circulation. Bring in plants or flowers to clear and sweeten the air. A noise machine or ear plugs help to shield you from noise so you can truly let down your guard and surrender into sleep. I know this one can be scary if you have small children. In my experience, my inner mama sense is still aware when it’s needed. And you know if you are ready for this, or maybe some negotiating with your partner on what nights you can be ‘off.’
Create total darkness in your room, total. Blackout curtains, a sleep mask. It is important, especially for women, to sleep in total darkness. Exposure to light at night interrupts your body’s ability to produce melatonin and interferes with our immune systems and hormone production.
Decorate your room and Night Stand with soothing images from your faith or spiritual beliefs. Create a Sleep Altar on your Night Stand, let your imagination and heart guide you about what should be on the altar. You may want to include images or statues of goddesses, dream catchers, crystals, or very little. Remember less clutter is better.
Create a consistent sleep-wake cycle and make sleep a priority. This may be the hardest part. With so many demands on your time, this might actually be the hardest piece. But make it easy. Try to make sleep a priority a couple times a week, once a week if that’s what it takes until you can do more. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. This consistency will re-synchronize your circadian rhythms and reduce anxiety.
Make the 2 hours before you go to bed the beginning of your sleep routine and ritual. Turn the lights down low, turn off the TV.
Establish a routine that you will be able to follow most of the time;
brushing your hair,
brushing your teeth,
perhaps a bath or dry skin brushing,
a short yin yoga practice,
some devotional mindful reading.
Create a small nighttime ritual. Speak out loud or write in a journal three things you are grateful for that happened that day and what you hope for the next day. Or offer up a prayer in whatever tradition or religion resonates with you. For a time, I pulled a card from a tarot or oracle deck before bed.
Creating new routines is a challenge, you will have the energy from your old ways of being pulling at you strongly at a time of day when you feel the least energized and receptive about incorporating new ways. Notice what it is that you already do, the ways and how’s of your nightly rituals now and add in one new aspect and see what happens. Set yourself up for success and growth will come.