Golden Slumbers pt.3

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Other Inhibitors of Sleep

Hola Groovers,

So further to the last two posts, we are concluding with an epic finale on all the other inhibitors of good sleep that you may find valuable to understand in a bid to enhance your overall wellbeing. We will then wrap up at the end with a list of bulleted recommendations for your nocturnal enjoyment…

Let’s start with dear old stimulants. You would think it was pretty self-evident that having stimulants in your body when you go to bed is not a great idea, and yet that is something that billions of people around the world still do.

Caffeine of course is the most ubiquitous one. Five hours after you consume it, half the caffeine is still in your system, and it doesn’t fully clear from your system for ten hours. And caffeine is f*cking stimulatory, as anyone who has not drunk it for a while realises when they have it. Therefore, the top sleep experts I’ve spoken to would strongly recommend avoiding any caffeine intake after 2pm, otherwise sleep quality will be affected. 

Worse than caffeine are the excitotoxins that are used as sugar substitutes in innumerable products, most notably diet sodas. Getting half life information on these chemicals is harder without deep dive research which I don’t have time for. Some say a few hours, others claim 72 hours. Either way the evidence suggests that you will eat more when you drink them, and you stand a greater chance of diabetes, so it’s hard to find the rationale for ingesting foods and beverages that contain them other than a flawed fixation on avoiding sugar. They will certainly affect your nervous system activation very negatively and quite probably your sleep as well.

Another chemical that will make it difficult for you to settle, and that will prevent slow wave sleep is the excess cortisol that oftentimes finds itself floating around your body. We all know stress is bad for our sleep, but do people realise just how inhibitory it is for sleep quality? Do they understand that its mere presence in significant quantities will mess up so many things, including your ability to get good rest at night?

And what about all those people who are in denial that they’re even stressed? It’s a big problem.

Now one of the ways that people try to burn off their excess energy is through evening exercise. However, if you do more than 20 minutes of intensive exercise, you’re likely to trigger stress induced analgesia, which makes you feel lush with endorphins, but it also masks the stress chemicals being released. 

Now regular exercise is generally considered good for sleep quality, but there is much less clarity around the benefit of evening exercise, and indeed a number of sources report that high intensity movement in the three hours before bed is not helpful, and many gym bunnies find their sleep is far from great, although that may equally be linked to the very trauma that causes them to seek solace in the endorphin rush of intensive workouts (see below).

Now there is one form of pre-bed exercise that seems to work for men in particular, but that’s more to do with the energy loss of the ejaculatory response than the exercise itself – indeed, if and when you master tantric discipline, you can and will be awake for hours, albeit the nature of the sex is a little bit gentler than the usual, excitable 5 minute crescendo that hallmarks many a night of nookie.

Another consideration is whether you may have an intolerance to your laundry detergent or fabric softener. All of these things have chemicals in them, and being the traveller that I am, I sometimes come across certain beddings which absolutely trigger a response and I can’t sleep for toffee. My favoured products are Ecover and any that are made for babies. But it’s very individual.

Another consideration is the thickness of your pillows. If your pillow is too thick, it can restrict the air supply to your brain, which probably doesn’t need to be elaborated upon in terms of how detrimental that is for your sleep. There are of course orthopaedic cushions which may be worth your consideration.

Another one to bear in mind is your sleep position. If you sleep on your front (as I often do) the quality of rest is not nearly as good as when you lie on your back.

Three times I’ve cracked my ribs, all due to self inflicted antics, but whilst the pain is intense, it’s magical how much brighter you feel because you are forced to sleep on your back. I even had tennis balls sewn into some T-shirts to prevent me rolling on my front but it’s just so habituated I end up taking off the T so I can get sh*t done the next day, so I can’t seem to crack it, without cracking my ribs, but maybe you can make use of this trick better than I. 

According to Ayurveda, you get the best possible blood flow around your body when you’re lying on your back, which is why the shavasana pose is so crucial at the end of a yoga class, because it helps to eliminate toxins after all those poses you’ve made, and is also ultra soothing for your nervous system, which is why people who skip the lie down at the end of class are such fools, because without it you don’t really integrate many of the benefits of the class. If you sleep on your side, it’s best to sleep on your left side.

Now some people may have lower back issues which make lying on your back tricky. If so, I have it on good authority from an osteopath that placing a pillow between your knees will support it. And indeed, lower back issues often have an emotional component that can be healed. Even musculoskeletal issues can be somewhat ameliorated with skilled myofascial release.

Another interesting aspect to blood flow is the orientation of your body while you sleep. I was first alerted to this by the ancient Vedic science of Vastu, and was at first quite skeptical. I really couldn’t see how it would make a blind bit of difference whether I was sleeping with my feet pointing north, south, east or west. 

However, given how much all of the other Vedic sciences had benefited me and others around me despite our initial skepticism, I decided to run an experiment when I subsequently travelled the world for three years and stayed in well over a hundred rooms. I would record my energy levels and feelings of rest each morning, and then upon leaving that particular place, I would get my compass and record the direction.

Unambiguously, I always felt best when my head was to the east or the south, and I always felt turd when my feet were to the south.

It was so pronounced that I gave up trialling it after 21 months because the patterns were just so clear. However, from time to time I would arrive late at a guesthouse and crash without thinking. And lo and behold, every time my feet were pointing south, I felt rubbish once again.

And it’s funny, because I’m writing this particular section of the blog from Clarence Square in Brighton, and two nights ago I checked into an Airbnb here, and yesterday I felt like absolute dog shit, and I just couldn’t work out why. And then at 11am I slapped my forehead with the palm of my hand and was like ‘mamma mia! I slept facing south again!’

So what did I do, well last night I simply put the pillows at the feet end of the bed and guess what? I feel absolutely pucker today. I mean I am singing and dancing again. The consistency with which this phenomenon plays out is extraordinary.

So why is it? Well, it turns out that it’s all to do with the earth’s electromagnetic fields, and their impact on our circulation.

When in the northern hemisphere, if sleeping with the head towards the south direction (feet north), it has been found that there is a significant lowering of blood pressure and improvement in sleep quality.

On the other hand, sleeping with your head to the north direction can impact the body, with pressure on the brain owing to the magnetic pull of the earth’s magnetosphere on your blood. 

Apparently this is reversed in the southern hemisphere, and has been backed up by some studies. But regardless of what the science says, it’s often so pronounced that you don’t need a study protocol to verify the truth of it.

So if your bed is facing with feet naturally pointing to the south, and it only really works to have it positioned like this in your bedroom, then I would strongly suggest doing what I do and sleeping the other way round. It may prove to be a game changer for you.

And for anyone who enjoys a bit of vanity, the ancient Indians were very forthright in saying that sleeping with feet facing south will age you much faster than feet facing north or west. There’s honestly no point applying all those face creams if your feet are pointing south each night. It’s a total waste.

And if you have kids, I would strongly recommend finding a way to ensure their feet avoid facing south at night too.

Now on the subject of electromagnetic effects, it’s probably worth you having a think about how many devices you have in your bedroom disturbing your electromagnetic field each night. The reason being that our electromagnetic field extends about 8 feet around us, and the EMF from our devices, from our routers, and from all of the 4G transmitters we are surrounded by in urban environments is interfering with our electromagnetic field, and our nervous systems, in ways that can be highly distortionary, particularly when we are trying to rest. There are so many delicate functions that rely on good EM integrity.

To give you an example of how EMF interacts with nature, we can examine birds, who famously use the earth’s electromagnetic field to navigate. Until recently, the how of it has been a mystery. It turns out that the EM field causes electrons in the molecules of their eyes to jump orbits, and that changes the colour of their vision depending on what direction they’re travelling in. That’s how they know to fly south!

This begs the question, is EMF causing any electrons to jump in our cells, as well as battering our nervous systems with the information contained within their waves? It’s an interesting idea that merits research. But one thing’s for sure, whilst we may not be able to see all the EMF we are surrounded by, it is most definitely having an effect.

So what do we do about it? Well, the first thing we can do is put our router on a timer plug that switches off each day between say 9pm and 7:30am. That way, our body at least gets 10 hours each day without wifi exposure, or at least much less – you’ll still get your neighbours, but proximity to source is key because doubling your distance from it, reduces its impact by three quarters.

It’s also worth being aware of other typical household devices that are strongly electromagnetic. For example, printers are heavy emitters. From time to time I’ve come across peeps who have them in their bedroom, or positioned very close to the bedhead on the other side of a wall, like in an upstairs office. The sleep problems have magically resolved themselves once the printer is moved. Similarly, fridges aren’t great. Studio flats can sometimes be problematic when the fridge is near the bed, and if I’m ever in a hotel I always look to see if I can turn the mini fridge off, not just to avoid the hum, but more importantly, the radiation. And of course, if there’s a router in your bedroom, you may be wise to move it as that will just be harsh!

And then of course, there are mobile phones, which many folks leave by their beds as a form of alarm. I do talk about this in courses, so won’t labour the point here, but needless to say its a quietly ruinous habit. Firstly, they emit strong levels of radiation, which as we’ve seen, are problematic. Secondly, when we’re awake, having a phone nearby is massively distracting and even having it within reach, significantly reduces our ability to focus. Does it somehow keep our hypervigilance system active while we sleep if it is in close proximity? I don’t know, but given how psychologically addicted we are to them, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to me.

Then there is the fact that having it so close will mean that we will almost certainly be looking at it up until bedtime, and pretty soon after waking. Good luck trying to get good sleep quality if that’s your habit! And not only will your sleep quality be reduced by circa 20% during the night, thus significantly reducing mood and performance the next day, but if you then spy your phone for any significant time the next morning, before getting yourself set, there will be another compromising drop in performance levels.

Similarly, ipads and tablets are not great either. Now I’m not familiar with the intensity of non-Apple products, but the stuff emanating out of Cupertino is fairly outrageous in its intensity levels, hence why so much work has needed to be done on improving battery lives. The result is an electromagnetic deluge to your visual cortex, and wider head region, that is going to seriously mess with your pre-sleep programming. Indeed, research has compared doing one hour of reading from a book before bed versus one hour reading from an ipad, and the ipad use delays the release of melatonin by 3 hours! Not only that, but your eventual melatonin peak will be 50% less than normal. Reading an ipad before bed will also  massively reduce the quantity of REM sleep, thereby having a huge knock on effect on how you feel emotionally, your mental health, performance, and quite possibly your levels of delusion and anxiety/paranoia.The impact on your sleep quality and emotional regulation is profound.

It’s definitely best to go old school, or at least go with a kindle, which I’m going to confidently speculate is closer to reading a book than reading an ipad.

This brings us nicely onto the subject of the final reason why having a phone or tablet by your bed is likely to prove a weapon of subtle destruction. Put simply, if the device is close to hand, then there’s a much higher chance that you’re going to look at it during the night should you wake up.

It’s worth remembering Professor Lockley’s assertion that the most destructive invention in human history is the lightbulb, because of the way it has disrupted 3.8m years of sleep rhythms and put us all out of whack, leading to billions of humans all being more grumpy, irrational, reactive selfish and unhealthy, resulting in all sorts of increased individual and societal problems. Well the light intensity from a phone is so much brighter, and more distortionary due to the frequencies being emitted, that it’s like the lightbulb on steroids.

And one of the absolute worst sleep sins you can ever commit, is to look at your phone in the middle of the night. This is because it immediately shuts down the activity of your pineal gland, thus inhibiting melatonin production and completely disrupting your circadian rhythms, at the worst possible time.

It also turns out that exposure to screens between 11pm and 4am also negatively impacts the activation of your habenula, and that will lower your dopamine levels, increasing your likelihood of low mood and if done consistently, then depression. This is not good.

If your dopamine is unnaturally low, you’re also more likely to engage in other self destructive behaviours and be more susceptible to the spike high of addiction dynamics.

Indeed, not only are you wrecking that night’s quality of rest, and lowering your dopamine, but you are training your body to expect that hit of EM radiation tomorrow, and training it to be awake at that time, thus consigning you to a spiral of unproductive sleep that will then f*ck with your gene expression as well as your hormone profile and neurological activation. That is not good. So even if you’re resistant to all of my tips herein, please, please, please do yourself a favour and avoid looking at your phone during the night, no matter what the circumstances, or how emotionally uncomfortable you’re feeling. It may temporarily offer some distraction and numbing relief, but it’s only likely to prolong the pain the following day, and indeed subsequent days as your rhythms become (even more) disrupted.

Now the best thing you can do is just lie there and pretend to be asleep. If you lie relatively still, and just accept your nocturnal fate, then half of your brain stays asleep. So whilst the other half may be active, you’re still getting pretty good rest. This is what I always used to do on red-eye flights (and still do between in-flight meditations), and it works a treat, especially if you are horizontal. 

Now if you are going to get up during the night, then there are a few things you can do which can actually prove somewhat value added. The first thing, particularly if you’ve been very stressed, is to eat a handful of brazil nuts. The reason for this is that they are very high in selenium, which we need in sufficient quantity to sleep well. I’ve tried this myself and it is surprisingly effective, albeit, you only want and need 3-6 nuts, whereas excess quantities will just sit in your gut and putrify.

Another good trick, particularly if you have a very dry cough, sore throat, or you are feeling very anxious or restless, is to chew on cloves. These settle something ayurveda refers to as your vata, particularly in the throat area, where your vata is most susceptible to imbalance. The oil in cloves also has great antibacterial and antifungal properties which could prove useful to your long term health.

But by far and away the most effective thing I’ve found for disrupted sleep is a hot water bottle placed on your stomach as you lie on your back, palms facing upwards, and simply allowing yourself to naturally reinitiate sleep. However, the disruption of going to the kitchen and waiting for the kettle to boil somewhat counteracts this, so if you’re going through a bit of a spell of insomnia, you could always have your empty hot water bottle ready to go by the side of your bed, or in your bathroom, along with a 2 litre flask of hot water. That way, all you need to do is fill the water bottle, put on the cap and away you go. And for added value you could chew on a few brazils while you do it, and then chew on a few cloves as you let the soothing warmth of the hot water bottle lull your nervous system into a more soporific state. 

For all of the reasons above, perhaps one day we’ll conclude that one of the most destructive inventions is the smartphone. I wonder if researchers will look back and realise just how negative they have been for health outcomes. And don’t even get me started on what they do to completely FUBAR our spiritual connection….

Now, obviously we want to be as preventative as possible so that you are not waking up in the first place, and/or so that you get a better quality of rest. Therefore another useful tip is to consider having a grounding sheet on your bed. I recently bought one and am using it for the first time since I left Shoreditch and I’d forgotten the improvement they make. It’s subtle but noticeable. The sheet has threads of highly conductive material like silver woven through it, and the sheet is then attached to a plug that fits into a standard plug socket and effectively provides an earthing connection for your body, which has probably collected a lot of static throughout the day from all of your device interactions. And just like your household electrics, it provides a path of least resistance into the earth so that there isn’t an electrical balance between the thing (in this case you) and the earth. These are particularly useful if you feel super awake, ungrounded, or have issues with inflammation. If you wish to explore these more, you can check out some recommended products here. I know so many people who swear by them.

And while we’re on the subject of great products for keeping things balanced, the brand memon make some great anti-EMF products. I use a memoniser on my phone to reduce it’s EMF impact because it tends to sit there in my pocket all day every day, and given that it seems to be a necessary evil in our modern lives, I may as well do what I can to take the edge off.

To avoid the need for a phone in the bedroom to wake you up, sunrise alarm clocks are highly recommended so that your body gets a sense of what’s coming with the gentle illumination of the clock mimicking that of the rising sun. They really are brilliant.

As mentioned earlier, it will also be worth using the Focus feature on your iphone to switch off notifications after say 9pm and before 7.30am. They also have a wind down feature which means your phone could start winding down at 8:30pm, in harmony with the household lights which also dim at this time if you follow our recommendations. And if you’re an android user, then there’s a great app called Minimalist which turns your phone black and white, and the absence of colour apparently makes it far less interesting and addictive and you just don’t use it nearly as much.

And if you’re in the US, then you may wish to try out these amazing footpads, which you put on before bed. They absorb loads of the toxins that are floating around in the lower half of your body and you definitely feel so much better the next morning. I always buy several months worth when I go to the States because I love them so much, and unfortunately, no other footpad comes remotely close to matching their effect.

As for other sleep inhibitors, poor feng shui is also quite a worthwhile consideration. The ancient vedic equivalent, vastu, was actually a precursor to feng shui, and is the one I tend to personally lean on more, but I’m sure either system could help you loads, not just with sleep, but general energy flow and balance within your house. The trick is to do what you can, but not strive for perfection, because that is usually expensive and disruptive. 

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are also surprisingly common in people suffering from insomnia. Now I’ve mentioned using brazil nuts to address the selenium situation, and wherever possible I would advocate using good quality foods to redress any deficiencies, but if not, then high quality supplements are recommended. My favourite is Epigenetics, which I buy via Amazon. The founder of the company, Chris, is a legend, and he helped teach me how nutrients are also symbiotic, so being deficient in one, can mean a lack of absorption of others, so making sure you’ve got a full complement of appropriate nutrients is even more important.

Now if you’re wondering which ones you may need, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to find out is to send a piece of your hair into a lab for some analysis, and this can be achieved for the rather reasonable sum of seventy english pounds. I believe these guys have been recommended to me in the past, but I’m sure Google can help you find a suitable option for you.

Alcohol and substances like cannabis may facilitate us getting some level of blackout sleep, and therefore satisfying our need for quantity, but again, the quality is poor. The reason for this is that these substances block our ability to attain REM sleep, which is so vital to our health and our need for restfulness.

Alcohol for example, is a sedative, so whilst it might sedate us, it doesn’t provide us with useful rest, so my mum’s insistence on a glass of wine before bed is thoroughly misplaced because it guarantees that she will feel more tired the next day, and more worked up about her inability to achieve adequate levels of rest at night. One could even speculate that it would explain her mild delirium on some days 😂

Sleeping pills are also highly questionable. They help you achieve short term respite, but the grogginess they induce, and potential dependency issues that develop over time, mean they are nothing but an ultra low grade solution and not one I can advocate in anything other than extreme circumstances.

I also recently discovered that sleeping in new surroundings is a huge disruptor of sleep, because half of your brain can’t settle down when you’re sleeping in a new environment. It comes down to our hypervigilance function wanting to make sure we are safe. So even though we might think it’s a good idea to sleep at an airport hotel the night before an early flight to make sure we get a proper night’s rest, actually we may be better off staying at home and leaving suitably early the next day, because we just will not get any phase 3 or 4 sleep. Unless of course you stay where you are and your hypervigilance function will keep you awake worrying about the traffic!

And as someone who ironically slept in 13 different places in the five weeks since I started writing this blog (had something unexpected that required ad hoc planning), I can attest that my sleep was most certainly affected by this dynamic!

Another big determinant of not just sleep quality, but also how much you’re able to stay energised and sharp the next day, is your energy management. We teach the basics on our courses, but if you really wish to go to town, the UK’s best teacher is teaching an advanced course on our April retreat [link]. She did one at the summer retreat and people went so mad for it, that we are repeating it one more time. I’ve heard incredible reports about how much it has helped people with their sleep, their grounding, their intuition, and their healing of deep traumas.

Speaking of which, one of the biggest disruptors of sleep is unprocessed trauma. When the traumas happen, whether young or old, our tendency is to try and bury it. To suppress it. To pretend it’s not there. But it is. And your body will try and get your attention one way or another to have you address it so you can move back towards healthier functionality once more. There are many ways this may manifest, one of which will be an inability to settle down at night and a sense of unease, of some unknown disturbance that stalks your much needed slumbers with withering reminders that something deep down remains unaddressed and no matter how much you run from it, it won’t let you hide.

To solve this will likely require a bit of a journey, and is one of the reasons we at Beeja offer more advanced techniques and courses beyond the initial meditation. We are all carrying traumas of some description, and we do a painfully good job of not healing them as we go through life, and the trail of subtle destruction they leave in their wake is absolutely wild.

And lest it still not be fully understood, childhood trauma doesn’t have to be something worthy of shock and notoriety, quite often it’s simply something that terrifies the child, or crushes their sense of self at the moment of incidence. Nor does it just come from what you experienced, but also what you didn’t experience. And having eaten away at your self worth all those years ago, it continues to eat away at you as you move through life, often blowing up in weird, not-so-wonderful and seemingly unconnected ways. But it’s all connected to this root issue, that must be addressed if you wish to make the most of your journey here on terra firma. 

Another common dynamic is avoiding doing what you know you need to. Again, we can run, but we can’t hide from our subconscious, so if there’s something you know deep down you need to do, but you are giving yourself excuses not to do it, don’t be surprised if it interferes with your sleep, or indeed your life. And the longer it goes on, the bigger that disparity between what your heart and soul are calling you to do, and what your head wants you to do will grow larger and larger until eventually there’s a schism. Either that, or you say, enough is enough, and you do something transformative to get back on path.

Obviously if you’re not clear on what you deep down know you need to do, one of the things you can do is an immersive programme like our retreats or advanced courses to help gain crystal clarity on who you really are deep down and where you need to be heading in life.

Finally, there is the tendency to worry about things that you can’t control. These generally have a deeper origin and revolve around your failure to accept and surrender that life has its own rhythms, and as much as you seek a sense of control to give you a sense of psychological safety and comfort, life doesn’t work like that and your ego and intellect and inner child issues will rebel against it until you finally learn to dance with life, rather than fight against it. It requires peeling back the layers of the onion, and the only true and sustainable solution I’ve encountered is to develop your spiritual connection so that you no longer need to cling to control freakery as your bulwark against existential discomfort and despair, and instead put yourself in the charge of the universe. Even if you have to baby step your way, every step will prove immensely gratifying, especially if you’re doing it in a structured way.

In the meantime, reading the works of Brene Brown, and in particular The Gifts Of Imperfection may help you come to terms with your sense of vulnerability, and learn to live with that rather than hide from it or reject it. But whilst she helps you to reframe it, there is still an imperative to heal that which is blocking you.


Conclusion

The simple truth of the matter is that EVERYBODY loves waking up feeling refreshed. It’s one of life’s universal principles that we all love beginning the day feeling like a champion and ready to take on the world. And yet so many of us are not. As you can see, there are a multitude of reasons, and whilst meditation can and does help with a lot of it, there are so many layers, and textures to it. It’s almost as if our sleep capability is a litmus test for our overall health and wellbeing. It’s like the subconscious uses it to reveal to us that there is still work to be done to align ourselves with our values and our purpose, or that what we’re doing in life is simply not sustainable.

But overcoming that isn’t always that easy. The mind loves a good narrative, and one of the most destructive narratives of our times is that we can and should adrenalise the sh*t out of ourselves in pursuit of doing ‘everything’. But in doing ‘everything’ we fill our lives with quantity and rob ourselves of quality. And we rob ourselves of the essential quality of being, in favour of doing. And then we mistakenly conclude that we must not be doing enough, or not doing the right thing. But it’s always an externalised phenomena we go chasing, little realising that the end of the rainbow lies inside, not at the end of some external phenomena that always seems to be just around the corner, but never actually arrives.

Now I hope that having invested myself in writing this gargantuan tome, those of you who wish to course correct those defective elements that are preventing you from golden slumbers are able to do so.

Of course, you will naturally feel some resistance to some of the suggestions. And even if you start to embrace the ones that resonate, it may still prove to be a big test of your prevalence towards self sabotage when you hit a speed bump and immediately find yourself gravitating towards destructive behaviours once more. And whilst each individual misstep may not be a biggie in and of itself, it does tend to be a bit of a slippery slope. Before you know it you may find yourself back in the grim place, but this is all part of the learning, and the more you can work on your inner world, the easier it becomes to make empowered decisions that aren’t reliant on the good opinions of others/the external world, even if there may always be some people for whom you seem preternaturally programmed to want to impress, or at least feel respected and valued by.  

It’s all good. Whatever you decide to take forward from this, I hope it will help. Having endured seven years of trauma induced insomnia, all I want for people is health and happiness, and anything I can do to serve is just my way of doing what lies deep in my soul. So if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. It’s a privilege to have people feel your words are worth their precious time. Especially when it’s coming from someone who is genuinely seeking progressive change in their life, and who is willing to try new things to solve age old problems. That attitude alone makes you a stellar human being in my eyes, and so long may you thrive.

Will & The Team xxx

As a quick summary of some of the key takeaways from this blog, below are some of the most pertinent ways you can get the most from your slumbers. It may be worth bearing in mind insights into habit forming research, that suggests picking a few things at a time and getting those established is good practice before trying to take on more. Otherwise it can just feel overwhelming. As always, we want to set you up as best we can for success, which is why we have tried making as many recommendations as possible that simply involve a one time change/purchase/substitution and then it’s automatically embedded into your life. However, some inevitably require an empowered decision, and that’s your subconscious challenging you to be a hero. Are you ready to be more of a hero in life? If so, here goes….

  1. Screen Discipline : Avoid looking at screens after 9pm if you can. Screens such as smartphones, ipads, computers and to a lesser extent television are so stimulating that they will have a significant impact on your sleep quality. Avoiding late night thrillers and action movies which adrenalise you may be wise if you wish to wake up feeling fresh. Horrors are also not advised for reasons I would hope are self-evident given their impact on your neurological activation. If you have Android, we highly recommend using the app Minimalist to assist your screen discipline. If using iphone, the Focus feature is genius. 
  2. No Caffeine After Lunchtime : Enjoy your caffeine fix in the morning so that you don’t disrupt your sleep hormones too close to bedtime. If you need a hit of energy to get you through the afternoon, do your second meditation in mid-afternoon and power through your day whilst retaining a calm nervous system.
  3. Eat Early, or Eat Light : Your digestion is such a stimulatory process that if you eat too late, or too heavily, that stimulation will potentially keep you awake at night. It will certainly affect your sleep quality (and leave you feeling sluggish the next day). Eating modest portions of digestible food, prior to 8pm, is generally the best bet. And hot food is usually easier for you to digest than cold food.
  4. Regular Sleep Patterns Help A LOT : If you are waking up and going to bed at different times each day, your body is never going to be able to develop a satisfactory sleep rhythm. One common habit we have which we mistakenly assume is helpful is having two lie-ins at the weekend.  If we change our rhythm on two successive days by waking up later, by the time it comes to Sunday night our body is going to be confused. We will naturally struggle with insomnia, and we will likely arise with a groggy start to the new week. It may feel counter-intuitive, but waking up earlier on one of those two days will generally make you feel better, not worse.
  5. A Booze Snooze is a Low Grade Ruse : It may feel comforting to knock yourself out with a pre-bed tipple, but alcohol is universally renowned for having a detrimental impact on sleep quality.  If you need a relaxant, use meditation. Not only will you get a golden night’s rest, but you’ll also feel restored in so many ways as all the side effects are virtuous. And who amongst us ever wakes up wishing they’d drank more the night before?!
  6. Sleep Timing : The timing of when you go to bed makes such a big difference to how much health and restoration you achieve through the night. For 3.8 million years we’ve been going to bed early. So it’s natural that when we keep to this schedule, our body is going to have a much better idea about what it is meant to do. A useful rule of thumb is that for every hour of sleep you take before midnight, it is worth two hours of sleep after. Timing all your lights to reduce intensity at 8:30pm will help your body stay in rhythm.
  7. Sunrise in your nest : Our bodies have programmed themselves to go into a more active state of functioning once sunlight reaches the retina in our eyes. This can happen before you wake up because those photons of light can pass through your eyelids and into your eyes, leading to artificial insomnia. So to help you make use of this phenomena, you could get yourself a sunrise alarm clock. It will gently awaken you to the day by gradually getting brighter, rather than alarming you with a body-shocking alarm. You’ll feel so much more alive.
  8. Cheeky thermal manipulation : If sleep is proving problematic, you can have a hot bath an hour before bed. This will then result in your body temperature cooling as you drift off to sleep.  This tricks your body into sleep readiness and stave off insomnia. A popular shortcut to this is to take a nice hot shower just before bed.
  9. Morning exercise is best : Strenuous exercise in the evening can result in your nervous system being too wired to sleep. If good sleep is important to you, then consider revising your schedule so that you can exercise in the morning. Use the tips here to help you get up easily. Also be aware that good sleep will be as helpful a part of you keeping trim as good exercise, as good sleep will help regulate our hunger hormones. You can also use Beeja meditation to calm the nervous system down after evening exercise.
  10. Don’t Have Your Feet Pointing South : The earth’s magnetic field impacts your circulation, and you want to make sure your feet are pointing any direction but south, and if you need to put your head at the foot end of the bed sobeit. 
  11. Grounding sheets : By making sure that what you’re sleeping on is well earthed, any latent static you’re carrying from being in and around digital devices all day will be filtered away, enabling you to have deeper, more productive sleep.  
  12. Vitamins & Minerals Are Important : If you are deficient, the impact will be felt night and day. You can find selenium in brazil nuts, and a good nutritionist can help you diagnose what’s missing and how you can best fix it, or you can do a hair analysis test and get your supplements from Epigenetics or other highly bioavailable supplies.
  13. Foot Pads : If you live somewhere that has easy access to the recommended footpads, I have to say I find them incredibly useful. However, getting them in the UK is not so easy these days.
  14. Fake It Til You Make It : If in doubt, just lie there and pretend to be asleep, and half your brain will stay asleep even when the other half is consciously awake. 
  15. Useful Cheats : Beyond a few brazil nuts, a hot water bottle on the tummy, and chewing on cloves are useful gotos. Having them strategically placed is a good idea, and will hopefully prevent you from falling prey to the seriously unhelpful habit of looking at your device in the middle of the night.
  16. Clear Your Airways : You may wish to use nasal strips to open up your nasal passages. Or mentholated products to open them up as well as your lungs. Training yourself to sleep on your back will also massively help. An orthopaedic cushion is also potentially a great shout. 
  17. Energy Management : One of the most powerful things you can do for sleep, and for general life is to advance your energy management capabilities. The best of the best is offering a one week course in April. We don’t know if there will be another opportunity to do it again, so if of interest, I’d jump all over it. Contact paul@beejameditation.com for more info.
  18. Heal Your Trauma : If you’re like most of humanity, you will have been trying to live in ignorance of the things you couldn’t process earlier in life. But whilst you can get busy distracting yourself, your subconscious will use any means possible to let you know there is a problem, either through physiological symptoms or psychological dispositions and/or using sleep to try and purge the problem, but thus keeping you awake. Taking a big healing journey is your opportunity to start absolutely smashing life, and you’ll need to do more than just use talk therapy to achieve full resolution.
  19. Live Your Purpose : The left brain, combined with any self worth issues will convince you that you are best following an inauthentic path, but your subconscious knows better, and may disturb your sleep until you listen. Following a deeper personal journey will help you to unlock of the mysteries of your inner universe, and maybe some of the external ones too 😉

Learn To Let Go : Learning to accept and surrender to things that are not in your control, and learning to dance with life’s challenges and changes in fortune is absolutely critical for a happy, healthy life. That will require you to find stability from a more reliable and more joy filled source than control mechanisms. And that source is the source of all life and consciousness in the universe. Dare you find out how far the rabbit hole goes? You know where we are if that speaks to you….

(if you missed them read Parts One and Two of this series)

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