CAN'T SLEEP AFTER TRAINING? 3 MINDFULNESS TIPS TO COMBAT INSOMNIA
With everything in life, we experience both light and shade - like sunrise and sunset, or what goes up must come down. Cheers to Newton and his laws of motion.
Our society is becoming more and more focused on how to achieve balance - if there is such a thing - and personally I believe that balance is never black and white. The pendulum swings one way and we experience positive emotions, calmness, clarity and perspective. It swings the other and we get negative feelings, stress, to-do lists, "I should" thinking. This happens most days. I call it fifty shades of feelings. I am no psychologist, but I am a big fan of their work.
Boxing and other forms of martial arts bring you 'up' - they open up your energy channels, sharpen your mind, activate your 'good' stress hormones and get the blood pumping. However, science tells us that too much adrenaline may not be a good thing and our fight or flight reflexes are designed to level out once the perceived 'threat' has gone.
For some people, high intensity exercise can leave the body in a heightened state well after the training session has ended - it takes time for the body to settle. Our body's core temperature, blood pressure, breathing and muscles need to cool down. This is why for some people getting their session done in the morning is a perfect way to set them up for an energetic day. For others, family and work commitments mean they have to train at night. This can mean their bodies and minds are still in a state of high energy late in the evening. It also means, usually, that they are eating late. Both of these things can dramatically impact sleep patterns.
Below are some ideas that I have researched and put into practice to bring mindfulness into my own training schedule in order to get to sleep easier after putting on the gloves late at night. Because no one likes not getting their proper Zzzz's and being one helluvaaa cranky biarch the next day.
Spending anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes doing some restorative yoga (think Hatha Yoga as opposed to Power/Ashtanga/Vinyasa variations) will help bring the heart rate down, settle your breathing and give your body a well needed stretch. Check out some online classes, this one is my favourite: Hatha Yoga for better sleep - a 40 minute beginners class from Do Yoga With Me (they have amazing classes online, free of charge for online streaming, those lovely thoughtful yogis).
The first time I meditated I set a timer for 5 minutes, sat down, closed my eyes and just focused on the sounds around me (being in Richmond, it was mostly trams and cranes - so peaceful). There are so many ways you can explore meditation and for beginners sometimes using an app to learn is a great starting point. Aside from lowering blood pressure, the benefits of meditation are wide and varied. I loved using the 1 Giant Mind app when I first started, and other great apps are Calm, Headspace or Meditation Timer. One that I use when I can't get to the land of nod is the Sleepfulness app which has specific meditations using methods such as breath awareness and body scans especially for insomnia. Nice!
It might sound strange to some, but making a list of the 5 things you are grateful for in your life before bed can refocus your brain. Nudge it from a state of stress to one of luuuurve. This is not a new idea and certainly not mine (Deepak Chopra has a lot to say about gratitude as just one of many paths to peace), but taking a moment to write down anything in your life that you are pumped about is a tip top way to bring you into the present moment. It can be as simple as 'I am grateful for my dog', or 'I am grateful for the glass(s) of glorious Pinot Noir I had with dinner' - or larger ideas like 'I am grateful to live in a city with clean drinking water'. This is just another easy method that makes for a better mood when you hit da sheets.