There never seems to be enough hours in the day to give our full attention to everything we are asked to do. When we’re under time pressures, the first thing we sacrifice is sleep.
It’s a dangerous trade-off. Sleep is one of the most powerful tools of self-care we have available to us. Getting the recommended eight hours a night has been shown to increase productivity and concentration, perhaps lead to better calorie regulation (and therefore less weight gain) and improve athletic performance. More importantly, sleep plays a critical role in our health, helping to lower inflammation, reduce our risk of heart disease and strengthen our immune systems.
I dream of spending restful nights at COMO Shambhala Estate near Ubud, Bali—a true ‘Retreat for Change’ with resident experts including a yoga teacher, Ayurvedic doctor and resident dietician. The holistic, 360-degree approach offers signature massage therapies and beauty treatments. A state-of-the-art gym and outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing make the most of the Estate’s unique location.
COMO Hotels & Resorts have a couple of ideas to help you get better sleep each night.
Follow the sun
Sunlight is essential to calibrating our body’s circadian rhythm, which not only dictates our sleep cycle, but also affects hormone production, digestion, the immune system and many other bodily functions. Exposure to artificial light disrupts this natural process. One way to get back into natural sleeping patterns is to rise with the sun and expose yourself to sunshine as much as possible in the day. Light filtering in through a glass window isn’t enough: you need to feel the rays, take off your sunglasses and refrain from long hours in bright indoor lighting and blue light interference from gadgets, wherever possible.
Dark and cool sleeping conditions
Our skin can detect even the smallest amount of light, which can disturb sleep patterns. Switching off any electronic devices, putting your alarm clock on sleep mode and using black-out curtains are simple ways of reducing your exposure. It has been said, that cooler temperatures, between 15-20 degrees Celsius, encourages a deeper sleep. Ensure your clothing and bedding are made from light, natural and breathable fibres so you can stay cool.
Look after your heart
According to Oriental medicine, insomnia is caused by the disturbance of the shen, or ‘spirit’. One way to settle and calm the shen is to strengthen the heart. This can be achieved through meditation and by avoiding stress and anxiety-inducing environments. Taking herbal medicines, such as suan ren (sour jujube), ren shen (ginseng) and long yan rou (longan fruit), can also help calm the heart and spirit. Consult with a professional herbalist to find the right formula to suit your body’s needs.
Watch what you eat before dinner
During the three to four hours before you go to bed, it is best to avoid food and drink — especially alcohol. Having an early meal and switching a glass of wine for a calming herbal tea will help induce relaxation and ease into slumber. Easily digestible cooked foods, such as vegetables, sweet potato and rice, should be eaten at dinner. Spicy, greasy, sugary meals should be avoided, as they can result in excess phlegm which disrupts the stomach.
Consider your liver
According to the Chinese body clock, the hours between 1:00am and 3:00am are when your liver is most active, which can cause wakefulness. This is only exacerbated by stress. If you find yourself awake around this time, consider taking advice on a liver detox, as well as finding ways to reduce stress through meditation to calm an overactive mind.