5 ways to wind down properly at night
Jasmine Hemsley shares her top tips to calm the mind and body for bedtime
The all-important bedtime wind down works on us just as it does for babies and children. Changing your energy from upbeat and ‘on’ to mellow and ready to hit the ‘off button’ requires a rhythm and routine that the mind and body can flow with. How we structure our day with meal times, exercise and lighting is the best way to gear up for the day and then down for a good night's sleep, but that’s not always possible and why we sometimes need help. Here’s how I downregulate my nervous system as part of my bedtime routine especially when I’m feeling wired, excited or upset before bed. If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night, my tips can help then, too.
Have a good stretch
The first thing I do is stretch, whether I’m about to get into bed or have woken in the night. Reaching upwards and outwards helps me to reconnect to my body in the moment and get out of my head – think of cats and dogs intuitively having a stretch to make all things well. You could also add in some gentle shaking to release any stagnant energy. Simply stand and stretch your arms up above your head and then out to the sides, then finish with some slow rolls forward (seated or standing) to stretch the backs of legs. This tenses the body all over so that when you stop the activity and rest, you feel the whole body relax with a sigh of relief.
Comb your head
Who doesn’t love a head massage? Our scalp not only has many nerve endings but also vital energy points and gently stimulating these helps to quieten the mind. The East by West Neem Comb has wide smooth teeth that you can of course use to comb hair, but I also use it for massage. Hold one end of the comb and ‘roll’ the teeth lengthways from the top of the head to the nape of the neck – this leaves my scalp feeling tingly all over.
Listen to a sound bath
Sound baths are a passion of mine and the therapeutic tones from crystal alchemy singing bowls are soothing and relaxing, while their ‘yin’ or feminine energy is just the ticket to feel cool, calm and collected before bed. My digital sound baths are available to download to your phone and you can choose from any duration between 5-30 minutes. These offer a guided meditation practice with no experience necessary other than to get comfy and set the intention to surrender.
Massage your face
The Kansa Wand is a traditional Ayurvedic massage tool designed to direct life-force energy on the body. By teaming it with your favourite face oil or serum, you can gently stimulate circulation, resulting in clearer, plumper skin, and ease tension around the jaw, forehead and temples. It’s incredibly relaxing – just close your eyes and be guided by your intuition. I like to start on around my eyes while the kansa (copper-rich metal) dome is still cool and then, as it warms up, move it across the rest of my face and neck to smooth and soothe.
Hum yourself to sleep
For anyone new to breathwork, as well as those seasoned in yogic pranayama and other conscious breathing techniques, humming is a way to not only slow down and lengthen your breath, but you also produce your own internal sound bath. Everyone can hum even if you can’t sing. Just close your eyes and mouth, and hum into the back of your lips for the count of six, or longer if you can, then allow your lungs to fill up again with a long gentle inhale through the nose and repeat. At first, it may feel like an effort, but in time it will become a natural rhythm until you drift off to sleep.