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Festival of Sleep Day

Have you had a restful and relaxing festive period? Many of us will not have done so despite it being a holiday period. But fear not, 3 January is the Festival of Sleep Day. With New Year falling on a weekend for many of us this is the last day of the holiday period before plunging back into the chaos of normal work and family life. So take some time to catch up on sleep.

The fundamentals of sleep are timeless and largely stay the same regardless of social convention, fashion or technology. Sleeping is the body’s time to rest and restore itself. Insufficient sleep will affects your mental and physical well-being. It’s also an incredibly effective way to help you deal with stress, recover from illness and, even, to creatively solve problems. As Thomas Dekker (English Elizabethan era Writer) said, “Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”.

Sleep comprises of several stages – Awake, Light sleep, Deep sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. It is during REM sleep when we have our most vivid dreams and is very important for memory and mood. We are lightly asleep for most of our night sleep and it promotes restoration. Deeper sleep supports learning and memory. If you wake feeling especially refreshed, it’s likely you got lots of deep sleep.

In these modern, busy, times it’s not always easy to get a good night’s sleep. So, here are some tips that might help. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule – go to bed at roughly the same time each night. The more active you are during the day, the better night’s sleep you will have. Avoid alcohol, stimulants (such as caffeine), sugar and too much fluid before sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, comfortable, not too warm and well ventilated.

Finally, a word about light. Accurate time keeping using clocks, watches and mobile devices is a very recent invention in turns of human development. The Circadian Rhythms of our bodies pick up cues from the environment to determine what time of day it is and what activities to carry out. Getting the wrong cues can fool the body into thinking its time to wake up when you want to sleep.

So, try to make sure you are exposed to sunlight during the day and especially early in the morning. Expose yourself to nature light as much as possible during the day. Make sure your sleep area is as dark as possible. Try not to put the light on if you wake in the night for any reason. Avoid artificial light and blue light (such as from mobile phones and computers) especially before bed time. This light trick the body into thinking its dawn and suppresses the release of melatonin (an important sleep hormone).

Hypnotherapy can help with sleeplessness and other sleep disorders. If you or someone you know needs help with this contact me.

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Meditation, for the Nation

21 May 2021 is World Meditation day. So, what is meditation? Well, of all people, Dick Van Dyke put is very well. He said, “When you’re a kid, you lay in the grass and watch the clouds going over, and you don’t have a thought in your mind. It’s purely meditation, and we lose that.”

Meditation plays a role in many religions throughout the world, especially Buddhism, but is not an exclusively religious practice. Many people have realised the benefits of meditation and incorporated it into their daily lives who are neither spiritual nor religious.

Today’s world puts many demands on us, such as work and family, and can leave us very little time for ourselves. Meditation is a way to have a very beneficial moment’s peace to quicken or clear the mind and relax. It has been proven to have positive mental and physical effects when practiced regularly. Specifically, some of these benefits include reducing anxiety and stress.

Anxiety remains one of the leading causes of mental health conditions and can manifest itself as physical as well as emotional problems. In severe cases doctors may prescribe medication, but the best approach is prevention. Meditation is one of the most common ways to treat the symptoms of anxiety, helping individuals to slow their heart rate, control harmful thoughts and prevent future anxiety.

Stress is a normal bodily response and is closely allied to the fight or flight response to danger. For short periods it does no harm, but if you are regularly stressed and your body it regularly preparing to run or fight, this can cause problems in the body. Meditation is a good way to take time out from the world and to focus inwardly on yourself. For example, breathing exercises can reduce blood pressure, calming the mind and give the body time to recover from periods of prolonged stress.

Also, practicing meditation and mindfulness encourages you to think about the present, to live in the moment and not worry about future possibilities. With this focus and other distractions dismissed, it can help you to stay focused and to improve your overall concentration and productivity.

One of the great things about meditation is that anyone can do it, almost anywhere. How you meditate varies widely from person to person. Some prefer physical activity accompanying it such as yoga, while others prefer to stay still. Whether you’re seated, standing, lying in bed or sitting in the bath, simply close your eyes, focus on taking deep breaths in and out and allow your mind to empty of thoughts. If thoughts pop up, simply acknowledge them and dismiss them. Continue to breathe deeply and use it to deepen your sense of calm. When you are ready, then open your eyes and continue with your day. If you are short of time, then set an alarm to alert you it’s time to finish.

So, celebrate World Meditation Day by setting some time aside for yourself to clear your mind and relax. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed, feel at ease and relaxed. This could be in the bath, in bed, or somewhere in nature like a garden. Then simply put yourself in a comfortable position, close your eyes, breathing steadily, and let all thoughts clear from your mind.

If you’ve never tried to meditate before then it can be difficult to clear your mind and avoid wandering thoughts. You may benefit from trying a guided meditation tutorial in which an experienced individual will gently talk you through the process. I have a guided meditation on my You Tube channel which you are welcome to use. Please click here.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate World Meditation Day, just remember that meditation is most beneficial when practised regularly, so why not set yourself a reminder to meditate once or twice a day. Try it for a week and see how you feel. You won’t be disappointed.