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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 13 2019 11:30AM

Massage therapist and yoga teacher, Erika Zettervall, shared some thoughts on sleep and how such a simple thing can be so complex! And touches on yoga nidra - the holy grail of sleep...

A great part of our lifetime is spend sleeping - almost 1/3 provided we get 7-8 hours of it per night. We all know how good sleep is essential for maintaining health and good mood. Sleep plays crucial role in maintaining the nervous system (the brain in particular).

This week it is World Sleep Day highlighting the importance of sleep and there will be plenty advice and information around and good advice but as with everything it’s not what we know or the volume of information that makes the difference but how it is applied.

So simple and yet at times illusive, difficult and near impossible to attain. Just lay down close your eyes relax and drift off into sweet slumber.

In English we say fall asleep, implying a letting go. We also use the term dropping off when going to sleep, indicating a motion of fall and that how it often feels in the mind. Relinquishing control we trust we will wake up again (on time) and we that we can safely drop into the unknown where the subconscious can and will make itself heard and seen in the form of dreams.

Dreaming is fascinating, it can help you understand yourself, but can also be very intense, loud, vivid, frightening and disruptive. To ease and begin to understand deeper parts of my mind my therapist encouraged me to practice directing the dreams so that when becoming aware of dreaming, I began to direct the situation in the dream. This often happens without actually waking up and is so called lucid dreaming. I was also encouraged to go back to dreams after awakening from them and dropping back in and create a different outcome. It has the effect of softening and calming of the mind and therefore better sleep. The mind is powerful and the times when we can’t let ourselves fall into sleep or wake up (4am with a start), the possibility to let go from the grip of wakefulness is out of reach. Thoughts churning, we can end up tossing and turning searching in for the switch that allows us to loosen the grip and allow the sink/fall or drift back into sweet slumber. The more agitated we become sensory input appear sharper harder and/or louder and we can become hypersensitive, hypervigilant or hyperaroused. Us humans are wired to be on guard alert to dangers, this is necessary for survival and safe keeping. The problem for us is when it hijacks our minds unnecessarily and/or for prolonged times.

How do you improve the quality of sleep? Create routines and learn to relax would be my short answer.

Set the scene, take care of the physical space and body - regulate the intake of stimulants such as food (big meal near bedtime and type of food such spice and garlic), drinks (alcohol, coffee) and visual stimulus such as movie/television/or social media. Read in black and white or give the eyes a rest and listen to audio book.

Treat your bed and bedroom with respect and as the place for rest. Simple things such as making your bed every day and caring for sheets and bedding. Investing in good quality and looking after it you spend a lot of hours in bed after all. It set an intention of the importance of rest.

Create routines, keep bedtime but also keep set getting up time some say that is more important than going to bed. Lying-in is not great for establishing healthy sleep patterns or for making up lost hours of sleep. We humans like a rhythm respond well to regularity even if we tend celebrate impulsiveness in our society.

Soften sensory input from sound and light. Some sounds are hard to regulate living in a crowded city where people’s life goes on in close proximity. Softening can be achieved in form of textiles, insulation and white noise like a fan. When we think of light Black out curtains might be good, but if there is a small gap the light gets focused cutting though like laser beam through the room, so softening by a fabric or shutter that create shade light.

But then think of the content baby or pet or people for that matter to whom this does not matter they just switch off and sleep.

To switch off we need to relax. To relax deeply takes practice. Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way but I don’t think there is an exaggeration in saying most of us struggle with it. Tiredness and lack of sleep is very common and instead of rest ending up with a false relaxation that occur when we get stuck watching television or searching the internet, still feeding sensory input through our eyes and stimulating the brain.

I don’t think there is a better way to get better at relaxing than to practice Yoga Nidra. It’s very easy and accessible either through class (Emma does one weekly) or through apps (Sanctuary for example) or through internet. Yoga Nidra so called yogic sleep is not sleeping but systematic relaxation, which leads to deepest level of effortless awareness that’s possible where there is no judgement or movement in mind or thought and no mental chatter to accompanying experience. It’s the deepest level of rest with awareness. It’s methodology for relaxation and will lead you to sweet zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 4 2018 08:00AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein shares how yoga can positively impact your sleep - and therefore the rest of your life.

When my little one was a tiny baby, I never really appreciated the fact that even though we were waking up every hour or two to feed her, the rest of the time she was pretty complacent. Fast forward to now and we have a little terror who never sits still.

Going into this motherhood thing, I was fully expecting to be tired (mostly just for the first few months), to have days where it all got too much, but overall, to just be able to continue on pretty much as normal. Even though I knew from friends and family how time consuming and exhausting being a mother is, I still don't think I really understood it until I've had to do it!

As kids get older, they fight against you more and try and assert their will at strange times. I have discovered that the tired crazy monster that appears when my daughter is refusing to sleep is like a belligerent drunken tornado who lies on the floor screaming, “I’m not tired!” until she suddenly passes out dead to the world for anything from 30 seconds to 2 hours.

So, let’s talk about sleep.

As an adult, we expect to get between 5 - 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. We dream of the days when we were able to have naps during the day and often can think of nothing better than snuggling down in bed with a book and a cup of tea (or at least I can't).

When we are short on sleep, we start to become short on a lot of other things too. Patience often is one of the first things to go, closely followed by concentration. When this happens we take longer to do simple things and the next things to go out the window are diet and exercise.

As an adult, having a toddler isn’t the only reason we become short on sleep. Being tired can be caused by many different things from worry and stress all the way through to serious health conditions. And these causes can all be treated in different ways. But one thing that can help you to feel refreshed and give you a little bit more energy without any caffeine is Yoga.

The exercise can help tire out the body and quieten the mind.

Often when we can’t sleep it is because we are stressed. This is also regularly accompanied by sitting at a desk all day. Getting the body moving and focusing completely on these movements helps work off the excess muscular energy and gives the mind a mini break to not think about everything else in your life.

The meditation aspect, whether actual seated meditation or the 2 minutes in savasana can help give the brain a mini rest.

Savasana is the most important and difficult pose to work on in Yoga. Lying completely still and thinking of nothing is much harder than it seems. But after a good yoga practice the body is tired and the rest is welcomed and with practice the mind learns to focus on the breath and eventually on nothing. This comes with time and patience but the lessons can be taken into a meditation practice and as this practice develops, eventually you will be able to find calm and moments of stillness where ever you are, whether that is in a quiet space or a busy tube.

Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep) is extremely beneficial and just 1 hour of Yoga Nidra can be the equivalent of 4 hours sleep to both body and mind.

Yoga Nidra is a practice all on its own. It is something that can be done in a Yoga Nidra class or you can download a track to play at home. This practice taps into the Alpha brainwaves and takes you to a place of neither sleeping nor wakefulness. Where sleep can be a rest for the body and meditation a rest for the mind, Yoga Nidra tries to merge these together and bring rest to both the body and mind. This practice can be extremely profound and has been shown to help with many different types of tiredness and insomnia, as well as PTSD and other mental health issues.

It can be really hard to find the few minutes a day to have a daily practice, but even attending a class once a week can have longer lasting benefits and is worth the effort. And if you really can’t find the time for the hour of yoga, then download a 15min Yoga Nidra and play it while you are lying in bed at night. You will be amazed at how well you sleep.

Namaste everyone and happy sleeping!


Class Schedule can be found either on West Norwood Therapies website or my own Yoga Flo-ga website

Contact details if you have any questions: OR

Source for Yoga Nidra Tracks:

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 1 2017 09:00AM

Osteopath and yoga teacher, Yinka Fabusuyi, shares her top tips for keeping your mattress in tip top condition to help support a healthy spine

I hope that you have had a good festive season and wish you a happy and prosperous New Year. As part of your goal for a healthy year, which includes keeping your spine in tip top condition, do not overlook the importance of a good mattress. After a busy day there is nothing quite like getting into bed and feeling comfortable, relaxing and waking up feeling refreshed. If this is not the case might your mattress.

Top tips

1. Use a washable mattress (and pillow) cover to protect your mattress from stains. Buy them in a purpose-made ‘barrier’ fabric if you have a dust allergy.

2. Throw back bedclothes in the morning and leave the bed to air for 20 minutes to allow body moisture to evaporate.

3. Turn your mattress over and end to end every three or four months. For new mattresses do this every week for the first three months, to help upholstery fillings settle down more evenly. Mind your back when doing this and don't do it on your own.

4. To keep your mattress at its best, do not let children bounce on it.

5. Do not sit on the edge of the mattress.

6. Try to avoid your mattress getting wet. If it does air dry it. If necessary use gentle detergent and water to spot clean. Do not use solvent based cleaners on visco-elastic foam mattresses.

7. A good quality mattress that is used regularly will last about 8-10 years. Poorly cared for mattresses will not last as long. High quality mattresses may last longer.

Yinka is at West Norwood Therapies on Wednesdays and ad-hoc

Osteopath and Yoga teacher

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