A lot of things can happen those last few minutes before you finally go to sleep. Perhaps you’re in bed frantically replying to “urgent” work emails on your phone or scrolling through Instagram out of habit or maybe you’re watching a Friends re-run before you finally drift off with the T.V. still on. Sure, eventually you may fall asleep but is it quality sleep?
Instead of packing your mind with more activity and stimulation those short moments before bed, try incorporating a routine every day that sends signals to your mind and body telling it to prepare for sleep. Or better yet, make a ritual out of it!
Far different from the dreaded teeth floss, rituals are ceremonial, they’re a time for connection and something to look forward to. Why not bring an element of this into your pre-bed routine? Set aside the same time every evening and treat it as sacred, as an opportunity to train your brain that it’s time to wind down.
For me, I like to incorporate essential oils into my day to day rituals, both for the sensory experience of applying them and also for their therapeutic benefits. Lately, I’ve been using In Essence’s Sleep essential oil blend, made of Lavender, Mandarin, Roman Chamomile and Valerian. All of which are used to relieve symptoms associated with sleeplessness, not to mention it smells incredible!
So here are two simple, accessible rituals using essential oils that you can incorporate into your pre-sleep routine. Rest easy, yogis.
OIL MASSAGE & WARM BATH
1.5 hours before bed
30 MINUTES: MASSAGE & BATH
- Add 12 drops of ie: Sleep Pure Essential Oil Blend to 1 cup of warmed carrier oil (e.g. natural coconut oil or jojoba oil).
- Take care that oil is warm to the touch not piping hot. You can always pre-mix this in advance so it’s ready to go.
- Place a towel down, sit and begin self-massage on your scalp, neck and shoulders, torso, arms and hands, and finally, legs and feet.
- You can incorporate the traditional Ayurvedic practice of Abhyanga into this ritual, if you wish.
- But don’t fuss too much over trying to get the technique or steps perfect, making the time to connect with yourself is what’s important!
- Follow the massage with a warm bath using 6 drops of Sleep oil blend. If you don’t have a bath or tub, you can always sprinkle 6 drops of Sleep oil blend onto your shower floor and take a hot shower, inhaling the steam as it rises.
1 HOUR: COOL DOWN
Allow 1 hour for your body temperature to dry and cool down, signaling to your body and mind that it is time to sleep.
The physical contact of this massage is not only grounding, but also calming to the nervous system. Pairing it with the aromatherapy of the essential oils, helps soothe any restlessness or nervous tension.
But if you’re short on time and nothing sounds better than jumping straight into your PJs, try this 20 minute ritual from the comfort of your own bed.
PRANAYAMA & RESTORATIVE YOGA
20 minutes before bed
5 MINUTES: ESSENTIAL OILS
- Draw down your blinds, make sure the room is as dark as possible. Your phone is on Do Not Disturb, your T.V. and lights are off.
- Turn on your diffuser (keep the light switched off) and add in 6x drops of ie: Sleep Pure Essential Oil Blend.
- Meanwhile, roll ie: Sleep Essential Oil Roll On onto your wrists, back of neck, temples. Inhaling the aroma as you massage the oil in.
5 MINUTES: PRANAYAMA
Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama)
- Sitting upright, you can support yourself against your bed’s headboard or prop a pillow behind your back, prioritising the length in your spine. Facial muscles are soft as you slowly close down your eyes.
- Close your lips, teeth are slightly apart and place the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth. Jaw is relaxed and unhinged.
- From here, block each ear with your thumbs and gently rest your fingers on top of your scalp.
- To begin, take a long, deep breath through the nose. Lower your chin to your chest and slowly exhale, making a low-pitched ‘humm’ sound. The sound is soft, steady and unforced. Feel the vibration throughout your face and your head.
- Continue with 6 more rounds, 7 round in total. After the final exhalation, return to your normal breathing and take note of any changes.
Practicing this calming breath exercise in addition to restorative yoga, relaxes the nerves and quiets the mind. Inhalation of the essential oils during this practice further relieves anxiety and tension, helping induce sleep.
10 MINUTES: RESTORATIVE YOGA
Stay in each pose for 10 breaths with long, creating even lengths of inhalation and exhalation.
- Child’s Pose (Balasana) • For more support, stack 1-2 pillows vertically beneath you to act as a bolster, drape your torso over the pillow(s) and rest one cheek on top.
- Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottasana) • Try placing a pillow vertically on top of your thighs for more support, knees can be as bent as much as you need.
- Reclined Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana) • If knees are elevated, place a pillow underneath each knee. Rest hands on your belly to feel the rise and fall of your breath.
- Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani) • Legs can slide up headboard for support. For more elevation of your hips, place a pillow underneath hips.
- Corpse Pose (Savasana) • The weight of a pillow on top of hips can feel grounding. Or try using a pillow underneath knees to relieve any lower back pressure.
Let these poses feel nourishing and passive, let go of any gripping or tension. Allow the support of the bed and props hold you.
Please be mindful when integrating new practices into your health regime. Always consult a trained professional for guidance concerning health conditions.
Please also note that Abhyanga, Bhramari Pranayama and Viparita Karani should not be practiced when pregnant or menstruating.
This article is sponsored by In Essence. Learn more about the In Essence Sleep essential oil range at https://www.inessence.com.au/sleep-destination. Use the code 'SLEEPWELL' to get 15% off the Sleep range.
Images by Vinny Yoga & In Essence.