In this series of blog posts, I speak to Surrey-based yoga instructor Liz Daffen about her bedtime routine. She reveals how she’s able to sleep better now after a period of insomnia, and shares a breathing technique to try out before bed.
Q: What does your night time routine look like?
Liz: I love to have a shower or bath, wash my face, then brush my teeth.
If anything notable happened that day, I’d write it in my journal. I currently have a 5-year diary and I’m currently on year 5. Because of all the changes I’ve gone through in the last 5 years, it’s interesting to see what I was doing on the same day a few years ago. It will be fascinating to look back on this year, especially at the moment with lockdown and pandemic.
Then I’ll jump into my pyjamas and bed, maybe recite a mantra with my mala beads, put on my eye mask/pillow and drift off to sleep.
Q: How do you destress and wind down after a busy day?
Liz: I’m lucky that a busy day for me involves a lot of movement, so this helps me feel prepared for sleep. However, if I have a particularly busy mind. then I like to drop into a meditation session to allow my mind to unwind. Or sometimes, I just flop onto the sofa and catch up with my husband and watch a bit of telly. I might read some mantras to help me get into that relaxing headspace and fall asleep.
Q: What time do you go to bed normally?
I like to be in bed by 10.30pm. I teach a lot of yoga in the evening so it’s nice to have enough time in the morning to have some personal space – which could explain why I’m an early bird in the morning…I naturally wake up around 6.30am/7am.
Q: What are your last thoughts before drifting off to sleep?
I’m lucky that I don’t often have thoughts racing around my mind at night. So normally my last thoughts are “mmm, I’m in bed, sleepy time”.
It wasn’t always the case – there was a time during my early twenties when I was stuck in a cycle of trying really hard to sleep but just couldn’t. By the time I needed to sleep, it’ll be half an hour before I needed to wake up. Yoga and breathing can help with insomnia – of course, it’s not a cure all, but worth trying.
Q: If you suddenly woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep again – what do you do to try and go back to sleep?
Liz: It’s quite rare for me to wake up in the middle of the night.
But if I do, I might go to the bathroom, have a glass of water, read or recite a mantra.
I did suffer from insomnia in my early twenties and it was horrid. However, I didn’t really have any tools at the time to help me drift off. In fact, I did two things which probably really didn’t help: I got up and watched some TV and then worried about the fact that I had to be up in a couple of hours.
If I was unlucky enough to go through this again, I’d probably remind myself to focus on breathing, then try a mantra and then maybe a little bit of yoga.
Try this bedtime breathing exercise next time it’s the middle of the night and you’re unable to sleep:
Start by taking 5 deep breaths and allow your mind to focus on your breathing.
The exercise will help you count down from 11 to 1, counting down with each inhale and exhale.
So inhale for 11 counts, then exhale for 11 counts.
Then inhale for 10 counts, then exhale for 10 counts.
Repeat until you get to 1, if you lose count start from 11 again.
More in the series:
- An Interview with Liz Daffen: Yoga in Pyjamas, Being Kind to Yourself and Misconceptions about Yoga
- Surrey-based yoga instructor Liz Daffen talks about her nighttime routine and how she winds down before bed
- A Yoga Teacher’s Favourite 5 Yoga Moves to do before Bed
- Breathwork, mantras and humming – yogi tips to help you sleep better.
ABOUT LIZ DAFFEN
Liz has always had an interest in exercise in various forms, from a young age she took part in ballet, horse riding, cycling, walking and Taekwondo, after university she gravitated towards a career in the corporate world. In recent years, on being made redundant she was keen to get back into more movement and exercise, and so embarked on a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and hasn’t looked back. Since then she has completed numerous other courses to help bring breathing, movement and mindfulness to a variety of ages groups and abilities. Having experienced first-hand the benefits of yoga and Pilates for physical and mental health she enjoys sharing this with others.
Liz is a warm friendly teacher offering classes that are varied and can be adapted to suit individual’s needs.
“I love teaching to all ages and abilities. Many people say that there not flexible enough for yoga, but we all have to start somewhere, and the wonderful thing about Yoga and Pilates is that it can be adapted for all abilities.”
Come along if you would like to stretch, tone, improve posture, reduce stress and increase overall wellbeing.
Breathing. Movement. Mindfulness.
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