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Turn up the wind-down: slumber tips for night owls

Sleep and dream specialist Livy Von Goh brings attention to one of the biggest issues in nightlife and how to overcome it

  • Words: Livy Von Goh | Images: Sunda Festival & The Conscious Festival
  • 13 March 2024

Sleep — we spend a third of our lives doing it and yet most of us can still improve. Some of us have trouble falling asleep while others have trouble staying asleep, and some haven’t slept in a while.

With night shifts or unpredictable schedules, it’s easy to have your sleep upside down or wait for it to ‘fix itself’. Without the sun to follow, it’s already harder for your body to naturally gauge when to rest and rise. Pulling that all-nighter and destroying yourself — how is that helping? That time you spend being out past bedtime can sometimes be time lost.

Time to take matters into your own bed!

Here are three statements that prove sleep is not for the weak: (1) Sleep is nature’s best attempt at immortality, (2) Deep rest is our body’s way of regenerating our cells and helping us live longer, and (3) Some of the greatest inventions have come from our dreams.

With World Sleep Day just around the corner (March 15), here are several tips to help ease your way into snoozing.

Obey Your Rituals

Craft a relaxing bedtime routine: Take a warm bath, practice deep breathing exercises, listen to calming music, etc. (Another excuse to make a dope playlist!). Do the same for your waking ritual: Wake up, stretch, sun gaze, meditate, practice a skill etc. This signals your body that it's time to wind down or rev up, so it’s always prepared. Don’t be overambitious, start small and make it achievable. Don't let anyone tell you your ritual is ridiculous, you do you!

Track Your Natural Rhythm

Whether working the nightshift or normal, when are you the most and least energetic throughout the day? Find out your chronotype and adjust your routine according to your natural circadian rhythm to maximise your energy and wind down accordingly. You can invest in a wearable sleep tracker to help you see how much deep rest you need to get to function at 100%. Ideally, you will want to get 90-120 minutes minimum of deep sleep, see what works for you.

Say No to Stimulants

Ask yourself what is stimulating to each of your senses. Avoid heavy after-hours meals, caffeine, uppers, and alcohol close to bedtime. De-stimulate yourself with any of these: Wear earplugs, eye mask, ditch the screens (blue light disrupts sleep!), and wind down with calming activities like reading, pamper yourself or light stretching an hour before bed. Reflect on what works for you as that may stay consistent or change with time and age.

Find Sanctuary Anywhere

It can be tricky to travel and get good sleep. New environments can take time to get used to. Transform any bedroom into a sleep haven. As much as possible - Keep it cool, clutter-free, and quiet. Include elements of your bedtime and waking ritual to signal your body to be comfortable. If you’re on commute, the best thing you can do is follow timezones and cut yourself off from any stimulants to get some shut-eye.

Fuel for Sleep

Did you know you can simply eat for better sleep? Include grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, lentils and fermented foods that are great for sleep. Regularly eat foods rich in magnesium, GABA, melatonin, and serotonin. You can collect recipes that you like and make something delicious to share with your loved ones. A sleep tea blend before bed helps to calm yourself and get in the sleep zone.

Dive into Dreams

The exciting part about sleep is being able to enter your inner world. Dreams are a gateway to your mind, body and soul. Prepare to get creative, sharpen decision-making, heal your emotions and more. Set an intention to remember your dreams before you sleep and repeat it over and over again until you drift. Recall the symbols upon waking, decode it and weave it into your creative process or use it as self-growth and healing for daily life.

Get a Sleep Buddy

Have someone on a similar journey to hold you accountable and keep you feeling your best. Whether that’s checking in on each other’s dreams, going to a sleep wellness workshop or sharing a sleep-friendly meal - it’s better together. Ditch the alarm clocks and take a weekend to focus on wellness and resetting your sleep schedules! You may slip up now and again, but the important thing is to show yourself compassion. Like eating healthy, sleeping healthy is a journey.

Remember, consistency is key! Keep exploring these hacks and you'll be mastering the art of sleep, even with an upside-down schedule. If you continue to experience sleep difficulties and deepen your understanding of your dreams, consult a sleep and dream specialist.

Register for a “Sleep wellness & dream decoding consultation” with Livy here and use the code MIXMAGDREAMS for a discount.

Livy Von Goh is a facilitator and guide covering the world of waking and sleeping dreams. Follow her on Instagram here

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