|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Tzivia Gover is the author of The Mindful Way to a Good Night’s Sleep and Joy in Every Moment. She is a writer, educator, and certified dream therapist and the director of the Institute of Dream Studies. Gover has led numerous workshops and panels about dreams, mindfulness, and writing, and she holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. She is an active member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and the founder of 350 Dreamers, an international network of people who dream together for global healing. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and can be found online at tziviagover.com.
Read an Excerpt
a good night's sleep
It's the home base we scramble to reach after a long day, and it's the place from which we begin again each morning. Bed is where we sleep and dream; throughout the ages it has also been where babies are birthed, and where we go to die. In bed we nestle and nest, cocoon and create new life. It's where we can create the conditions that help us wake with inspiration and innovative ideas.
Bed. The compact word is made up of a lowercase b and d facing each other like a matching headboard and footboard. Between them, a small e curls around itself like a baby asleep on a plump mattress. This single syllable has wide-ranging roots from many languages: from the Germanic bhedh or bajam, meaning "a place dug into the ground like a garden or grave" to the Greek bothyros, meaning "pit" — which perhaps takes its meaning from the animal's primal bed, a small crater dug into layers of leaves and dirt. In Old English the word means "the bottom of the lake or sea." Indeed, in bed asleep we dive into the mysteries of consciousness, that ravine of memory and association as deep as the collective ground of human history, our human story.
Bed. Animals make theirs, too: roosting in rafters, nesting in branches, huddling in hay. Even at sea, dolphins doze in moonlit currents.
The bed, like the one bedded down in it, takes countless forms: trekkers stretch out on whisper-thin pads, the homeless find what comfort they can on park benches or in cardboard boxes sited on subway grates, and kings curtain themselves beneath canopies of sumptuous embroidery. Be it a humble pallet or an elaborately carved and crafted bedstead, it's where we spoon with our lovers and cuddle our babies. We share our covers with favorite pets, or lie down with only our dreams, while the planets spin and the stars shine.
Bed. Like the ground beneath our feet or the air we breathe, our bed is a constant source of support that we often take for granted. But it's likely the first of our possessions to be pushed through the doorway of a new home, dragged up the steps and dropped into place, while all of our other belongings pile in boxes in the center of some as-yet-unpainted room to be sorted out later.
They say home is where you hang your hat — but really it's where we make our bed that defines our digs and allows us to dig in and begin our lives anew each day.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish word that means "coziness," and evokes the scent of cinnamon, comfy wool socks in winter, and conversation with friends by candlelight. The Danish love for all things hygge is said to be one reason Denmark has been rated one of the happiest countries. At its heart, hygge is about appreciating the simple things and bringing more comfort into our lives. What better place to begin paying attention to everyday pleasures than the bedroom, where we tuck in for the night.
What comforts you? It could be a person, a pet, or a place, or even an activity, such as sewing or swimming. Make a list of things that bring you comfort (include scents, sounds, colors, or tastes) and refer to it again and again. Commit to bringing more comfort, in all its many forms, into your life. Then share some (in the form of kind words or gestures) with others whenever you can.
make your bed
Turn the first chore of the day into a gratitude practice. As you smooth out the sheets and shake the blankets back into place, focus your thoughts. Rather than let your mind wander aimlessly, anchor your attention to your breath. Notice the sensation of your hands as you fluff the pillows and tug the covers taut, and consciously consider all the ways this expansive piece of furniture adds to your life. It is the place where you sit and read, make love, sleep, and dream. Send some gratitude to your bed for all the ways it supports you, literally and figuratively, and for setting the stage for a safe and sound night of sleep.
it's not just what we do in bed that matters
Conventional wisdom for healthy sleep hygiene holds that the bed should be for making love and sleeping only. But just as important as what we do in bed are the thoughts we take with us when we go there. Make your bed a worry-free zone. Banish troubles from your mind by writing them in your journal, and close the covers on them before you turn off the lights.
CREATE YOUR SLEEP SANCTUARY
We might close our eyes encircled in the arms of our beloved, but once we cross into sleep we are, in a very real sense, alone. That may be why we tend to lavish more of our decorative flourishes and housekeeping prowess on other rooms while leaving our beds unmade or heaping our clothes on a chair in the corner. We close the bedroom door, knowing that no one else will see that pocket of neglect anyway. But to reflect the value of sleep and dreams, the bedroom should be a haven of comfort and peace.
what's the message?
If there are phones, computers, or file folders from work dropped on the bureau in your bedroom, you are giving your subconscious the message that this is a place for doing, not relaxing. Clothes strewn about? What does that say about how you value your time in the bedroom? Look at your room anew and assess what messages it's sending to your subconscious about your attitude toward sleep. Remove or replace any items that don't support your intention to rest and relax in this space.
fluff it up
Now, turn your attention to the condition of your mattress and pillows. If they're worse for wear and no longer serve your goal of getting your best night's sleep, it may be time to replace them. Consider mattress toppers, buckwheat pillows, and other bed accessories that can help you settle in for a good rest. (Hint: don't be shy, survey your friends about what works for them. If someone sings the praises of their pillow, mattress, or topper, ask if you can take a nap at their place to see if their recommendations work for your body. Also, peek under the sheets and check out the make of mattresses that bring you comfort when you wake well rested at a hotel or inn while traveling.)
Cuddling boosts oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel good, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves sleep. Touching in various forms, including holding hands, massage, and sex, encourages the body's production of oxytocin. If you sleep alone, you can also gain the benefits of the love hormone by petting your dog or cat, thinking about pleasurable experiences, or taking a warm bubble bath before bed.
The right aromas can support sound sleep. Use a diffuser in your bedroom with calming essential oils such as lavender, sandalwood, or pine, all of which invite relaxation. Or add a plant whose scent is known to soothe sleepy souls — such as jasmine, gardenia, or valerian — to the bedside table or nearby windowsill.
boring is better
Adrenaline-fueled adventure novels are best kept out of your bedroom. Instead, try soothing stories for your bedtime reads; those with endearing characters and pleasantly predictable plotlines will do just fine.
Traditionally composed in the triple meter of ballads and waltzes, the lullaby's rhythm and melody evoke primal memories of the watery womb, the beating heart, and the bouncing knee. Add to that lyrics redolent with silvery moonbeams, roses, angels, twinkling stars, and mockingbirds, and you have the magic recipe that can sway even a stubbornly crying baby to sleep.
Except of course when the boughs break and babies tumble from cradles. Or when, as in some traditional sleep songs, lyrics lurch into tales of crying infants who are threatened with attacks by hungry hyenas or punishing wolves if they don't keep quiet and behave.
The stark contrasts between the nursery songs' rocking-chair comfort and cradle-crashing rhymes hint at our uneasy stance in the face of sleep. Throughout time and across cultures, lullabies simultaneously plead for safety and repose and call up stark reminders of the dangers that lurk in the cold, dark night.
The very word lullaby is a study in contrasts. The lull in lullaby whispers of the cushioned caress of our first in-utero sleep. But lull can also refer to that menacing stillness between stormy winds. And so the lullaby seems intent on reminding us that even the most restful of sleeps can be interrupted by a sudden night-shattering clang of fear, the thrumming threat of predators real or imagined, or ghouls and spirits who can't be kept out with even the strongest locks or the sturdiest doors.
Then there's that farewell note at the end of the word: by, as in goodbye. It's the false cheer of a jaunty "God be with you" — cold consolation to the traveler stepping over the threshold into the unknown.
These lullabies, whose lyrics were once carved into ancient clay and now populate playlists on our thoroughly modern devices, are sung in hushed whispers in the dark by the people who love us most. They acknowledge the mysteries and danger we confront when we lie down to sleep, but they also comfort us with golden strands of prayer, hope, and love. In this way, they have much to teach us about presence and courage in the face of fear. And so we ride their music, like magic carpets that carry us on their lightly hypnotic melodies across the chasm of night and into morning.
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Too often, rather than the sweet sounds of sleep songs, the brash tones of television voices fill our homes in the evening. Or maybe there is only the silent swiping of phone screens as we check status updates one last time before bed. Here are some ways to bring the music of lullabies back into your nighttime routine.
not just for babies
In addition to being an age-old sleep aid for infants, toddlers, and children, and a beautiful way for parents and babies to bond, lullabies have also been shown to reduce stress in the adults who sing them. Tonight, sing your children, your partner, or yourself to sleep. Find a sing-along CD or songbook to help you learn new songs or remind you of forgotten lyrics to old favorites.
don't just press play
Babies are known to sleep better and learn more when lullabies are sung to them by loving adults. So don't just press play — sing along.
Get the music started before you climb into bed. Create a bedtime playlist of soothing songs — traditional lullabies or not — to play while you go about your bedtime routine of brushing teeth and changing into pajamas. Let the sweet songs encourage the adults and children in your household to get delightfully sleepy as bedtime approaches.
Various spiritual traditions offer chants or mantras to help people sleep. One Sanskrit mantra that is easy to remember, and which can calm and balance the mind for sleep, is sa ta na ma. These sounds mean "birth, life, death, and rebirth" and are said to help wake us to our divine nature. Sing these syllables to yourself before bed and feel your mind and body settle down for sleep. (To become familiar with the rhythm and melody of the chant, ask a yoga teacher or search for the chant online.)
It seems counterintuitive, and counter even to our species' primary task of survival: each night we lie down, defenseless, eyes closed, senses dulled. Our faculties for rational decision-making are tamped down. We do this not for a few brief moments — fingers crossed that our vulnerability won't be recognized or exploited — but for hours, the length of a complete nine-to-five workday, in fact. Risky though it is from an evolutionary point of view, sleep is vital to our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. We need it and crave it in the same way we need and crave food or water. If we deny ourselves sleep, our bodies will steal it from us whenever possible, whether it's when we sit down to watch TV, settle on the sofa with a novel propped on our knees, or, in extreme cases, when we drive through the night despite our inner cries for rest.
Some people can't wait to slip into bed at the end of the day, while others resist turning in and turning out the lights. Your early experiences with nighttime likely color your attitudes toward sleep today. But by making new decisions and updating your evening habits you can cozy up and experience a more enjoyable bedtime.
EIGHT FOR EIGHT
Whether your ideal is to get six or eight hours of shut-eye each night, simple changes in routine have been proven to be as effective as medication for getting a good night's rest. Here are eight elements to enhance the quality of your sleep, naturally:
1. back into bedtime
To eat mindfully, we leave the table before we are overly full. To sleep mindfully, go to bed before you are maxed out with exhaustion. This can be difficult with so many activities and responsibilities competing for your time. But it's also the most important step. So, work backward when you plan your day, and build in a solid hour to wind down so you can climb into bed before you are beat.
2. commit to it
Spontaneity is great, but when it comes to sleep, sticking to a schedule works best. Make a commitment to go to bed at about the same time each night. Then, mark your calendar with a gold star or silly sticker for every night you succeed in tucking in on time. When you succeed for a whole week, treat yourself to something special that affirms your dedication to better sleep, such as a luxurious evening bubble bath, a soothing CD, or a scented eye pillow.
3. stretch before bed
Prepare the body for sleep with a few stretches or yoga poses that help soothe anxiety and still the mind: cat/cow, downward-facing dog, forward fold, and legs up the wall poses are all good options. (If you aren't familiar with these poses, you can find good instructions on yoga websites or consider taking a beginner's yoga class.)
4. mind your routines
Bring mindful attention to nighttime routines to prepare for a good night's sleep. For example, as you wash your face and brush your teeth, you might imagine that you are washing away any worries, regrets, or plans for tomorrow. Let any thoughts from your busy mind swirl down the drain with the soapy water as you exhale deeply and relax.
5. feed your spirit
Evening is a time to calm your energy, so watch what you ingest, both mentally and physically. Restrict your intake of news to daylight hours if possible, and focus on reading, doing, or watching things that encourage feelings of calm and well-being at night. What you eat after the sun goes down matters, too. Eat as little as possible in the three hours before bed, but if you need a snack, choose a slice of whole-grain toast, a small bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with slivered almonds, or a handful of cherries — which contain sleep-friendly doses of melatonin, magnesium, and tryptophan.
6. hit the cushion (before your head hits the pillow)
Meditating in the evening between dinner and bedtime calms the mind for sleep. Instructions for several meditations will be offered throughout this book (or if you already have a meditation practice that works for you, use that). Just 10 to 20 minutes will do.
7. divine mind
As you enter sleep, you might be heading toward anything from a peaceful night to scary dreams. You could be blessed with deep rest or hours of anxious thoughts and tossing and turning. So move through this transition consciously. Say a prayer, or set an intention to connect with the spirit of goodness, love, or peace just before you turn out the light.
8. gratitude for a good night
Studies show that people who go to bed grateful tend to sleep and dream better. As you drift into sleep, mentally review what you are thankful for, or mentally replay any beautiful or loving moments from your day.
IT'S GOOD FOR YOU, AND IT FEELS GOOD, TOO
Doctors, scientists, lifestyle gurus, and talk-show hosts have been touting the benefits of getting enough exercise for decades. Now, the new trending topic is sleep. If you've been paying even the least bit of attention to the lifestyle pages of your favorite magazine or health blogs, you can probably reel off the benefits of getting enough sleep, well, in your sleep. As with a daily exercise regimen, regularly getting a good night's sleep reduces stress, boosts your mood, helps manage weight, repairs memory, and even makes our skin and hair shine.
Excerpted from "The Mindful Way to a Good Night's Sleep"
Copyright © 2017 Tzivia Gover.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.