Most of us struggle to get enough sleep. And when we do sleep, it’s restless and uncomfortable. We wake up feeling just as tired as we were the night before. This has both short- and long-term effects on our overall health and happiness. So what can we do to solve this problem? It’s all about changing your sleep habits. This takes time, and it’s tough to know where to begin. Lucky for you, you can take the Mindfulnessa’s five-day Better Sleep course for free on the Skylight app. This article only gives a taste of what you’ll learn and practice during the Better Sleep course, so you’ll have to head on over to the app to try it yourself. A good night’s sleep is only five days away. . . .
Day 1: Introduction
The first day is a simple introduction to the Better Sleep course, which is centered on mindfulness techniques. It will help you understand what to expect from the next five days. In the six-minute video for Day 1, the Mindfulnessa Vanessa Keranovic says:
“At this moment, you might wonder what does mindfulness help, or how does mindfulness help us sleep better? Mindfulness is a simple practice of coming back to the present moment in an open, non-judgmental way. It helps us move throughout our day, but also in the evening, in a more open, non-attached manner. And while worrisome thoughts may disrupt our evening, making sleep difficult, mindfulness helps us move with more intentionality and become less reactive over time.”
“In the next three days, we will dive deep into how to create an evening that will fully align with our inner self, allowing the mind, body and soul to release resistance, surrender, and allow rest. At the end of four days of this course, you will find a meditation practice created to fully support you in letting go of the day, relaxing, and falling asleep.”
You really don’t have to do anything special at bedtime on this day, since it’s just an introduction. But if you want to go above and beyond, you can use Day 1 as an opportunity to set intentions for the Better Sleep course. After watching the video, grab your journal and record some of your thoughts. Here are some prompts if you need some help getting started:
● Why am I interested in this course?
● What do I want to accomplish by the end of the course?
● What are some of my good sleeping habits? My bad sleeping habits?
With your intentions in mind, you’re more likely to stick with your goals. Your intentions will also frame the next few days as you continue the Better Sleep course.
Day 2: Doing and Being
In the 10-minute Day 2 video, the Mindfulnessa explains that human beings have two modes of living: doing and being. In everything, we are either doing or being. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and both doing and being are both necessary in order for us to live productive, fulfilled lives.
In doing mode, you’re busy in your body or mind. This means you’re thinking, working out problems, worrying about the past or future, or completing a specific task. However, in being mode, you’re not doing anything. You’re focused on the present moment, tuned in to your senses. The Mindfulnessa says:
“My favorite example of how to distinguish these two modes is in doing mode, you would plant a flower; in being mode, you would stop and smell that flower and enjoy that moment. As already mentioned, both of these modes are important and have their purpose.”
Why are the doing/being modes important if you’re trying to have a restful sleep? Because it’s tough to fall asleep in doing mode! Racing thoughts at night are common, and they’re one result of not making the switch to being mode. For some, it’s more difficult to change from doing to being; for others, it feels more natural. Wherever you fall, learning some techniques to make that switch is useful. The Mindfulnessa gives four techniques to help you switch from doing to being:
● Breathwork. One breathing exercise she gives is four-seven-eight breathing. You breathe in and count to four, hold your breath and count to seven, and breathe out and count to eight.
● Meditation. Meditation is something you can do on your own or in a guided setting. The Skylight app has a ton of guided sleep meditations you can try: Clear Your Mind (10 mins), Self-Reflection Meditation (11 mins), Breathe into Sleep (10 mins), and Wind Down (20 mins) are some examples.
● Body scan. This is a practice where you “scan” your body for tension or stress by slowly relaxing each part. If you’d like a guide for this, check out the Body Scan meditation on the Skylight app.
● Progressive muscle relaxation. This is similar to a body scan in that you look at each body part one by one. The difference is that before you relax a muscle, you tense the muscle. The relaxation can be stronger after you hold some tension there.
Day 3: Evening Routine
Day 3 is all about creating an effective evening routine for yourself. In a previous article about spiritual bedtime routines, we wrote:
“Establishing a nighttime routine can help you prepare for sleep, sleep better, and wake up feeling more energized. In turn, it can help un-confuse your circadian rhythm a bit. But you don’t need a dream journal or a star chart or a bath bomb to have a good sleep routine (although those three items can be wonderful additions!). All you need is yourself. The best bedtime routine is one that connects you to your core self, the part of you that sometimes gets ignored throughout your busy day. In other words, you can weave spirituality into your nightly rituals not just for physical benefits but also for emotional and spiritual benefits.”
In the 13-minute video, the Mindfulnessa describes the importance of evening routines and how you can start one for yourself. She shares her own evening routine: to summarize, she dims all the lights and tries to avoid technology two or three hours before sleep. She reads for 30 minutes to an hour, and then journals. Afterwards, she does some breathwork/meditation exercises (which you’ll be a pro at after Day 2, for sure!). But she adds that she doesn’t always follow these rituals strictly:
“Sometimes I'll do it all, but sometimes I'll reduce it to two or three things depending on how much time I have, how much energy I have and what happened that day. I really try to tune in with my body, to tune in with my emotional state and see what's going on and what do I need the most that day. For me it really comes down to listening to my needs and what my body asks for at every moment.”
When you’re establishing a bedtime routine for the first time, it may not be realistic to dive right into something as dedicated as the Mindfulnessa’s routine. Try our five-minute bedtime routine for an accessible and powerful evening ritual.
Day 4: Journaling
Day 4 of the Better Sleep course focuses on journaling. Why is journaling essential for a good night’s rest? The Mindfulnessa explains:
“Journaling is a powerful tool that can help you transform your anxious and worrisome thoughts onto a piece of paper, allowing you to distance yourself emotionally and to see things clearer from a wider perspective. Using journaling to reflect on your day allows you to see your experience in another light, to see all the good things that happened but also to learn from whatever happened that day, the experience being good or bad, or whatever you labeled it to be. Because seeing the less than ideal experiences and situations that occurred as an opportunity to grow and learn is really how we shift our perspective, find closure, and allow the day behind us to fade away.”
In the 8-minute video, she suggests six different journaling techniques you can try before bed:
- List the day’s highlights.
- Note a lesson you learned from that day.
- Set a timer to write out all of your worries.
- Use stream of consciousness–style journaling.
- Write out your future plans (and leave them on the paper).
- List what you’re grateful for.
You don’t have to do all of these every day! You can choose one to stick with for the whole Better Sleep course, or you can change it up from night to night. You get to create your perfect before-bed ritual. And remember, if you don’t have a journal, you can always type your thoughts out on your phone or computer.
Day 5: Reflection and Meditation
This is the day where you can utilize everything you’ve learned in the Better Sleep course so far. In this eight-minute video, the Mindfulnessa will lead you in a breathing practice combined with journal prompts to help you reflect on the course and what you’d like to change about your sleeping habits. Here’s a sneak peek at the questions she invites you to consider:
● What does my evening routine currently look like?
● Is my evening routine an enjoyable ritual to me?
● What do I enjoy about it?
● What do I feel called to change or let go of?
● What do I want to bring into my evening routine?
● In what order do I want to do my evening routine activities?
● What is one thing I can do today that will help me create an evening ritual I'll really enjoy?
If you haven’t done the free meditation for restful sleep that’s included with the course, Day 5 is the perfect opportunity for it. It’s thirteen minutes of pure relaxation to help you wind down and have a good night’s sleep. You might find yourself dozing off before it’s over!
Even though the course is only five days long, the hope is that you develop good sleep habits that increase your energy and happiness. You can always return to the course if you need an extra boost. If you stick with it, you’ll tap into the power of a good night’s sleep.
Love the Better Sleep course? Try our other free wellness courses on the Skylight app: the Journaling course or the Saying No course.