For the chronic insomniac, a good night’s sleep is about as elusive as achieving the ever-mysterious runner’s high (and TBH—it’s likely just as euphoric).
But for the sleep-deprived among us, there are things you can do to try and reverse your track record. Your nightly pre-snooze ritual, for example, could increase your chances of snagging that priceless dose of shut-eye. In Tzivia Gover’s newest book, The Mindful Way to a Goodnight’s Sleep, the dream therapist and director of the Institute for Dream Studies says that sleeping well has a lot to do with how you breathe (yes, breathe!) before crawling under your covers.
“During the day, we’re often not conscious of our breath,” explains Gover in an interview. “We’re not breathing deeply into our diaphragm or our lower bellies so our breath’s getting caught in our chest.”
To stimulate mindful, sleep-inducing breathing, she recommends alternate nostril breathing, a technique that balances both hemispheres of your brain while simultaneously telling the chatter in your mind to chill out.
“Alternate nostril breathing has a natural balancing affect,” she says.
Ready to lull yourself into a sweet, sweet slumber?
Your snoozy, pre-bed breathing ritual
Gover recommends completing this while sitting up on the edge of your bed. After, you’ll be ready to nestle in for a full night’s rest. Preparing for a mindful night of rest is the goal—”by which I mean, a night of sleep where we’re conscious of the fact that we’re going to sleep,” she explains. “We’re conscious of the fact that we’re passing a threshold from one state of consciousness to another.”
1. With the palm of your right hand facing you, fold down the pointer and middle finger, keeping the other fingers extended.
2. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly and gently through the left nostril.
3. Lightly close the left nostril with your ring finger and little finger so both nostrils are held closed for a brief pause.
4. Open your right nostril and exhale slowly through the right; then inhale slowly on the same side.
5. Gently close the right nostril with your right thumb, and pause for just a moment as you hold both nostrils closed again.
6. Open your left nostril and exhale slowly; then inhale slowly on the same side.
7. Repeat the cycle several times before sleep.
8. On each exhalation let go of worries or concerns from the day. With each inhalation, breathe in peace and contentment.
Excerpted from The Mindful Way to a Good Night’s Sleep © by Tzivia Gover, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
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