Everyday we wake up to the world full of both chaos and order, conflict and peace, joy and sadness. There are many contradictions around us that may put you out of balance. Everyday we wake up in bodies that carry us since our first day on this Planet. And I think that’s the main reason why looking after them should be of the utmost importance. The same concerns our mental “body” not visible to the naked eye - our mental health, that we often seem to neglect because we don’t feel like having a tangible proof at hand to tell why we are actually not feeling well.
When we zoom out from our temporary but strong emotions in order to see what caused them we will notice that sleep and mental health are highly correlated. Sleep deprivation can increase the level of cortisol (“stress hormone”) which while elevated affects many areas of our health including also poor quality of sleep. Vicious cycle of chronic stress and nights of disturbed sleep affect your meantal health. How to recognize it - you can experience for example feeling of a racing mind, flow of thoughts which makes you anxious, be prone to verthinking and worry a lot - how to stop it?
Cortisol production follows a daily, 24-hour bio rhythm, lowest overnight and highest first thing in the morning. When that rhythm gets disrupted, sleep does too.*
Recently a friend of mine recommended to me the Huberman Lab podcast’s episode “Sleep Toolkit: Tools for Optimising Sleep & Sleep-Wake Timing”. I’m not a huge fan of optimising every bit of your life, yet it seems that when we effectively harness light (and darkness), food, exercise, caffeine, and digital devices we can achieve better quality sleep. And you can start pretty much by adjusting your routine with very easy additional activities.
After listening to the episode, you will realise how “magically” from the moment we open our eyes, each thing we decide to prioritise will have an impact on how we will go through the new day as well as how we will fall asleep and feel the next day. That is a pretty powerful realisation. Especially when we highlight the importance of good quality sleep with our mood swings and capacity to control how we react to external events.
And that is why we need to put effort into creating that Dreamy Routine for ourselves. It sounds cliche, but if you cannot build up a working routine it may be because you keep pushing yourself to do something that may work for your friend, partner or a role model, yet it needs to be truly and purely yours. Don’t rush with building your routine, don’t scare yourself off by those days, when it won’t work. As all good things in life, creating a working routine takes time, and as they say, life happens in the meantime. Start from including one new thing per week or per month and focus on sustaining consistency of new activity in the routine.
In the podcast you will learn how light and body tempreture influences sleep routine. You can experiment with trying this easy adjustments from Andrew Huberman’s toolkit for good sleep**
Look directly at morning sunlight within 30-60 minutes of waking up - it will help you fall asleep and stay asleep at night, and optimise cortisol & adenosine levels
Delay caffeine intake for 90-120 minutes after waking to avoid the afternoon crash
If you workout in the afternoon (also relevant if you have late caffeine) take a hot shower or bath after exercise to decrease body temperature and help prepare your body for sleep
In order to effectively use eye mask assure that the mask is not too tight and the room is cool enough to drift softly into the night
Every day at Studio Balance we open our doors for students and teachers who seek a moment ito rest their minds while moving their bodies. We all come through the studio door with plenty of reasons, motivations, challenges, struggles and emotions. Yet I think most of us still sign up for a workout or yoga practice to maintain a healthy, strong and immune body.
What we want to reccomend is that next time when you feel blue, think that movement helps maintaining healthy levels of cortisol and other hormones which can directly support your mind in whatever it is going through at the moment. We don’t say that a workout will solve all your problems but we are sure it will be a great fit to a routine of balancing your mind.
Instead of "are you sad? go for a run or do yoga" we say that yoga, meditation, pilates and other physical activities can support you in balancing your sleep therefore reactiveness of emotions and as a result you will experience a clearer overview of what kind of additional help you may need to seek if you recognise repeating patterns that don't serve you.
Choosing to prioritise calm over hurry, care over neglect and focus over distraction supports your mental health. Prioritising your sleep routine can be your first-aid kit when you start recognizing that you are not enjoying your daily life, you are easily distracted or triggered or simply sad.
Have a good enough day and not disturbed sleep tonight!