The Wellness Edge

Aro Ha's Best Practice For Sleep

Discover transformative sleep best practices to rejuvenate your health and enhance your daily life experience.

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Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep.”Mesut Barazany  

If only it was as easy as ‘just going to sleep’… For a few seemingly select people it is that easy. They are lucky enough to confidently say, ‘I love going to bed’, knowing that sleep is a mere few minutes (or breaths) away.

But for many of us, sleep can be a challenge – from falling asleep to waking in the night unable to fall back into a restful slumber, or even just waking in the morning feeling completely unrested – leaving us unable to function at our best both physically and mentally.

A lack of deep, high-quality sleep can impact everything from age, mood, memory and even your sex drive! Thi is why, getting a good night’s sleep is critical to how we experience life and show up in the world. Sleep offers us a reprieve – a chance to simply be, to restore our health, and to rest our minds after our busy days.

Your Sleep Is An Ecology

The closer we look at sleep research the more we notice that everything is connected.

In the same way that our inhales are connected to the exhales, and the rivers to the seas, just about everything we do in our day will affect our sleep in one way or another.  

How can we expect to live highly stressed and highly stimulated lives, taking poor care of ourselves, without noticing the cost of that imbalance somewhere? Sleep is often where we notice it, or should we say the lack of it.

Below are our Best Practices for Sleep, organised into three simple sections of practice. Try accepting one change from each section. You will intuitively know which one will be most rewarding.

Notice what you believe are your worst habits, which may help you decide what changes you will make first. The hardest part is letting go.

“Sleep plays an integral role in health. A good night’s sleep empowers the body to recover and lets you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.” –The Sleep Foundation


Best Practices of Sleep

1. Prioritise Sleep

What we prioritise and practice we get good at. So what is it that we prioritise in the middle of the night? What do we worry about, and what can we let go of?  

Our ability to relax and sleep is associated with our ability to trust life. If we trust, we can let go, we are not needing to resolve or fix anything. It is a radical practice that can begin right now.

Just notice what the mind feels is not working out right. Then let go. Our mortality rate as humans is 100%, so we might as well enjoy the ride. Nothing we are working on comes with us, meaning absolute freedom is guaranteed.  

  • Recommended Read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD – Of the five books I have read on sleep, this was a favourite. If you are not yet convinced that sleep is far more important for your wellness and longevity than squeezing every last waking minute out of the day, you need to check out this book. Written by one of the world’s most renowned sleep scientists, expect a fascinating look into the purpose and power of sleep and dreaming.

2. Sleep Starts At Dawn

From the time you wake up to the amount of sunlight your eyes and skin enjoy, what you choose to do with your day makes all the difference.

Exposure to Natural Light
Have you ever looked out of the window of a plane and seen the light of cities at night? That light in all of its forms is wreaking havoc on our sleep.

Our suggestion here is to use multiple tools to first understand what our Chronotype is and then align our lifestyle with our natural tendencies to create consistency around our sleep patterns. The message here is not to fight your natural tendencies (you won’t win). While we are all creatures of the day, one third of us are night owls too – we are all unique. Find your ideal natural flow, and craft a life of habits around that pattern of sleeping. Once you have found a schedule that works, be consistent.

  • Best Natural Light Alarm: If you live in a city, chances are you can’t leave the blinds open to let the sun be your alarm, so you can use a Natural Light Alarm.  There are several good ones, but we like the Casper Glow Light.  It has got a brilliant design – simple and smart.
  • Expose Yourself: Expose your skin and eyes to the early morning light. Eat your breakfast in a big window or even better outside.  Go for a walk, or do a class outdoors. This has been proven to improve sleep.  

Nourish Your Gut
A healthy gut has been repeatedly linked to better sleep, mood, energy, and overall health. If you have never tested your microbiome, reach out to your friendly local Functional Medicine Doctor, and ask for advice on testing the world of your microbiome. I have used BePure’s Clinic and loved their process. Essentially they test, notice what is missing, and give supplement, lifestyle and diet suggestions, and then test again to be sure the protocol has worked. Just brilliant!

Move Your Body
Whether you love cardio or weight training, there is a clear link between exercise and better sleep, but choose the right type for the right time of day. Higher intensity in the morning, lighter intensity later in the day, and restorative just before bed.

Switch to Herbal
While many of us love a good glass of wine or an after-dinner cup of coffee, unfortunately, the evidence is clear, alcohol and caffeine both interfere with sleep. Having a healthful evening routine is important so you might replace one habit with another, consider switching your beverage of choice to something herbal. We like:

  • Dandelion coffee: the liver-cleansing properties of dandelion is known to be a valuable aid in helping sleep. A healthy liver will balance blood sugar levels – Blood sugar fluctuations and drops are a major factor in insomnia and waking at night.
  • Chamomile tea: is a well-known and highly effective option. Its calming effects may be attributed to an antioxidant called apigenin, which is found in abundance in chamomile tea. Apigenin binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.

3. Your Bedtime Routine

Your bedtime routine is essential to setting yourself up for a good night in the land of nod. Often we are distracted by social media, or finishing that one last thing for work, which can leave our minds busy, making it all the more challenging to wind down for sleep. Here are our favourite ways to create a nourishing bedtime routine:

Announce Your Daily Retirement
This habit is magic, and probably my favourite. Set a time when all your doing is done!  Say to yourself ‘Today was a success, there is nothing else I need to do.’

By giving yourself permission to be done for the day, your unconscious mind will be listening, and you will feel yourself relax. Give yourself at least one hour before bedtime, then use this time to craft your perfect evening routine. I am quite sure you will love this habit.

De-Power
This one is big, our screens are stimulating! Watching TV or using your phone, tablet, or laptop in the two hours before bed can affect your sleep. These devices emit blue light which tricks your brain into thinking that it is daytime. Try reading, taking a bath, journaling, or meditating instead of being on your phone. Give your body a chance to go to sleep in its natural state.

Breath and Movement
Use gentle stretches and movement combined with conscious breathwork to release tension. Yoga offers us the perfect opportunity to release the stress from our day.  Try Yin Yoga or Restorative Yoga.  You might also try gentle foam rolling or self-massage with a massage ball or the use of a shakti mat.  This kind of self-care will aid you in activating your body’s relaxation response; a lowering of one’s heart rate and blood pressure. Slow your breathing using longer exhales to move toward sleep. Try taking a few breaths with a four-count inhale, two-count hold, and six-count exhale.

Magnesium
Taking magnesium before bed not only helps you sleep, but also helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps the heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, keeps bones strong, and helps to relax the bladder and reduces the need to urinate throughout the night.   Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure and is known to be involved in the energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Here at Aro Ha we create our own Evening Tonic which contains magnesium.

Meditation or Mindfulness
Meditation is not only an essential practice for understanding ourselves, but also has been proven to induce theta brainwave states, which are analogous to sleep. The stilling of the mind allows for the complete relaxation of your being. Stress means that we continue to overthink, and cannot relax our mind as well as our physical body. 

Our Favourite App For Meditation
Have you tried Yoga Nidra for Sleep?  I am usually snoring away within the first 15 minutes of these specially designed guided meditations, and often use the practice before bed if I am feeling wired or stressed.  Here is a guided Yoga Nidra for Sleep on our favourite app for meditation, InsightTimer.

Best for Work-A-Holics
For those who need to check their devices in bed, you may like a pair of Nighttime Blue-Light Blocking Glasses. You will feel the difference of using these, I promise.  And the brand you get does not massively matter, other than the style and quality of the lens. The magic is in reducing blue light. While the daytime blue-blockers still look cute, the best ones for nighttime will have you looking like a disco raver at best, but trust me they make a world of difference.

Earplugs and Eye Masks for Traveling
I religiously travel with earplugs. Anytime I am away from the quiet of my home at Aro Ha, I know my sleep will be greatly improved if I can block out the city or airplane sounds. I know that I am more sensitive to sounds than light. If light really bothers you when you are trying to sleep, an eye mask could be a game-changer for you.

Are you a snorer?
I have been using the Sleep Cycle App to track my sleep. It also records your snoring and sleep talking throughout the night. The snores I heard in the morning were both comical and enough to get me concerned about the health and dental effects of mouth breathing after reading Breath by James Nestor. I have been using mouth tape for the past 6 months, and have noticed a massive difference. I also feel much more rested when I wake. I hope that you are inspired to weave some of these practices into your wellness routine to support restful sleep. If you would like to experience what it feels like to wrap these practices into a holistic wellness retreat you know where to find us.

I hope you enjoy and sleep well!

Sending hugs,  

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