Sleep is an essential element for our health and wellbeing. But sleep is something that for many of us remains elusive. As busy adults we tend to deprioritize the need for sleep competing with ever increasing busy schedules at work and when we get home, often with increasing family responsibilities that take our focus away from any thoughts of selfcare. To deny the need for sleep to meet the expectations of others is a trap we all too often get caught in. Routine sleep patterns are quickly lost and difficult to re-establish and the thought of being able to switch down a few gears, enough to fall into a peaceful slumber seems impossible.
This short article aims to offer some practical, solutions for those nights when sleep seems just out of reach.
Understanding Sleep Challenges
The journey to a restful night begins with understanding our environment, its impact and challenges. It could be hormonal fluctuations, work stress, or family responsibilities are disrupting our sleep patterns. Late night stimulants such as alcohol or caffeine, eating too late and poor digestion may be other culprits, these are often linked to poor sleep quality.
Over time poor sleep quality can result in us being more than just tired; left unresolved it may negatively impact our overall health and wellbeing. Science suggests long term insomnia or poor sleep quality is a major contributor to accelerated ageing and chronic inflammatory processes such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Making some positive and practical changes to what is often referred to as ‘sleep hygiene’ could well be one of the best decisions we can make, commitment to self-care is good for oneself but also a great decision for those we care about. Being well rested is a great feeling and one that can energize us towards the greatest goal of living our best life every day. Self care is not selfish, it is essential. Taking care of ourselves enables us to be more effective, more efficient and bring more benefit to others.
Practical solutions - or you could think of them as sleep and relaxation props
Eye pillows and Sleep Masks can play an important role in supporting sleep. Depending on your needs we encourage you to try an EyePillow and a Silk Sleep Mask to find out which works best for you. (an eye pillow can also double up as a warm or cool eye compress and is great as a yoga prop for deeper embodiment during savasana).
Weighted Eye Pillows and the Vagus Nerve
Research has demonstrated there is a direct link between the gentle acupressure of a weighted eye pillow and activation of the Vagus nerve.
The Vagus nerve (is the 10th cranial nerve and a part of our parasympathetic nervous system controlling the heart, lungs, digestive system, and other bodily functions that keep us alive. You could think of it as an operating system running in the background). One branch of the vagus nerve lies close to the neck. By placing a weighted eye pillow over the eyes its gentle acupressure stimulates the vagus nerve sending signals to the brain triggering an automatic (parasympathetic nervous system) relaxation response. The resulting effect is a decrease in heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure leading to an increased feeling of calm and relaxation. If you are feeling anxious, or your mind is working in overdrive, a few minutes spent lying back with a weighted eye pillow in place coupled with some calm, slow deep breath work is a great reset for your emotions. Give it a go and observe how you feel after 10 – 15 minutes. By adding lavender aromatherapy, you will find even deeper relaxation. For centuries lavender has been associated with sleep and relaxation. If you haven’t tried a lavender eye pillow before you will be amazed at how restful it can make you feel. You’ll find a selection of colors, and styles in the LOTUS EyePillow range on this website. If you’re not a fan of lavender the red color is unscented.
Usually sleep masks are worn throughout the night acting as light blockers to help us stay asleep. They are also the perfect solution in a relationship where one bed partner wants to read while the other wants to sleep!! If this sounds familiar read on....
When you’re shopping for a sleep mask, you’ll find there are hundreds to choose from. But the trick is to find a sleep mask that is comfortable enough to be worn all night. It’s important to realise that much like a pair of shoes one size does not fit all!
Look for a sleep mask with an adjustable and comfortable head band. NOLAVA Designs offers a wide range of styles and colors to choose from. If this sounds interesting you'll find more on this website. All NOLAVA masks are fully adjustable with a covered elastic band for added comfort and a slider buckle for adjustment. We know the ability to customize is essential for both fit and all night comfort.
Silk is one of natures gifts and a premium material of choice for a good quality sleep mask. Silk has many benefits and staying comfortable and cool is one of them. Avoid satin and other synthetics, they can cause irritation and heat rashes around the delicate eye area.
It’s also important to shop for 6A Grade Mulberry Silk, this silk is the finest and strongest because it has extra-long threads for smoothness and resilience. All NOLAVA Silk Sleep Masks are made with this high-grade silk, and all are manufactured and certified to be OEKO-TEX compliant. What this means to you is that there are no harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing process. OEKO-TEX is a rigorous standard that is reassuring to be aware of when making your buying decision.
REM Sleep and Light Block Out
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep is essential to good sleep quality. But to reach the state of REM sleep requires total darkness and complete light block out. NOLAVA Silk Sleep masks are cut generously giving wider eye coverage than the industry standard. If you’re trying to sleep in a room with ambient light, you’ll know how impossible this is. Your best and easiest solution is to buy a well fitting sleep mask, you’ll be amazed at how much longer and deeper you will sleep. Effectively blocking the sleep disrupting light from streetlights and night lights will enable you to sleep until the alarm wakes you. But the true test of success will be how you feel. If you feel refreshed and ready for the day ahead it’s a clear indication you have had a good, deep, and restorative night’s sleep.
Wearing a sleep mask will also improve sleep quality for night shift workers who often struggle to sleep during the day. If you know someone who works nights giving the gift of a Sleep Mask could be the best gift you could give to them. They will love you for it!
Top Tip: If you or someone you know sleeps with CPAP wearing a well-fitting, adjustable silk sleep mask will protect the eyes from dryness.
The NOLAVA Wellbeing Meditation and Mindfulness App.
This App offers a range of calming music and soundscapes. Listen to the evening sounds of birds as they fly across the lake to roost. Listen to the distant sound of thunder or the rhythmic sound of the ocean. As you clear your thoughts and focus on the sounds of nature you will gradually sense a feeling of increasing calm as you enter a state of complete relaxation. For extra support to relax there are several guided sleep meditations to ease you towards a state of sleep. You will also be able to enjoy the range of music available on the app, some general chill vibe sounds, some binaural beats, and solfeggio music. This App is completely free to download and use. It is our way of giving back and we hope it helps you along your journey to wellbeing quality sleep and relaxation.
Additional Tips for Better Sleep
Beyond sleep masks and apps, it is important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Here are a few tips: try setting a timer half an hour before bedtime, switch off blue light screens, and create a comfortable environment in your bedroom. Make sure you have comfortable bedding and a good supportive pillow to rest on. There are several sleep rituals you can work into your schedule but to start with keep it simple.