Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, physiologist and author of The Little Book Of Sleep, says doing this every night in bed could be the key to achieving a state of deep and healing sleep.
Our guest editor, Katie Piper, has always been interested in the healing benefits of meditation. “I believe mindfulness can be achieved through meditation,” she tells me. “Even if it’s just 20 minutes a day, you can try to find some sense of inner quiet and silence the mind. It’s definitely something you have to practice, because your mind is just like a muscle: you have to work it out and build its strength up just like you would any other.”
Meditation has been proven, countless times over, to reduce stress and minimise anxiety. Physiologist and sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, though, believes that meditation (specifically, acceptance meditation) can also have a huge impact on the quality of our sleep.
Here, she explains how reciting a simple mantra each night, and practicing the art of self-compassion, can help you to achieve a state of sattvic sleep.
What does it mean to get a good night’s sleep? It’s not just about quantity. It’s about getting the right type and quality of sleep. I use the Sanskrit word sattvic to describe the type of sleep we should be getting – pure, deep, natural and healing. This is the kind of sleep where you wake up feeling refreshed, filled with vitality and looking forward to the day ahead. It not only heals us but also heals those around us. We wake up smiling and that energy is contagious; it affects our loved ones, the people we encounter on our journey into work, our colleagues and clients and the very work that we do – the work of life.
When we sleep deeply, rejuvenation takes place on many levels:
Physical: We wake up with the energy and vitality we need to go about our day’s tasks. The body is repaired and the immune system is strengthened.
Mental: The brain is cleaned up and reorganized and we feel creative and focused, even in the face of overflowing inboxes and constant demands from technology.
Emotional: We are able to engage fully in our relationships with courage and open-heartedness and deal with life’s inevitable ups and downs.
Spiritual: We can live with meaning, passion and inspiration, finding time for those things that we truly care about.
Sattvic sleep enables us to be the best that we can be – the best version of ourselves and to live our lives with purpose and meaning.
This simple meditation will not only lull you to sleep but also help you to feel better about yourself. Being hard on yourself stops you letting go; it stops you feeling at ease and accepting rest and deep sleep. Practising loving self-acceptance is an important step toward sattvic sleep.
- Lie down on your bed and relax. Enjoy the sensation of being supported, the smell and feel of your bed linen.
- Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Notice the natural rhythm of your breath.
- Bring your attention to your feet, saying, “I love my right foot. I love my toes. I love my right instep. I love my right ankle. I love the top of my right foot. I love my left foot.”
- Continue to work your way up your body, acknowledging your love for every part of you.
Be sure to say this meditation very slowly and very gently, as if you’re speaking to baby. There’s no rush. And, if you fall asleep and then awaken, start all over again from your feet.
The Little Book of Sleep by Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, is published by Gaia and is yours for £6.99.
For one day only on Thursday 15 November, Katie Piper has taken over stylist.co.uk as part of The Kindfulness Project, packing the site with articles on what she’s learned about empathy and the importance of self-care..
For similarly inspiring and uplifting content, check out Katie Piper’s Extraordinary People, available on Apple Podcasts now.
Image: Abigail Read