better sleep tips

Tips for a good night’s sleep

Getting enough sleep is a perennial problem for some, and I sympathise. I’ve had two stress-related periods of exceptionally poor sleep in my life, and as a result, I began to dig deep into the science to help myself and others get a better night’s sleep. Here is what I found.

Tips for a good night’s sleep: environmental factors

Our circadian rhythm is influenced by external factors such as light and darkness in the environment.

So one thing we can do is to manage exposure to light to ensure that it works for our biological and mental processes and not against them.

For example, the hormone melatonin is responsible for good sleep and is produced in the mornings. Getting outside in the morning, therefore, can help your body to create more melatonin, which will help you get your snooze on at night.

Similarly, ensuring that you use blackout blinds and turn off blue light devices (phones, tablets, laptops) at night will mean that you are creating the right environment for your body to understand it’s time to rest. Especially given that reading on a tablet, say, can stimulate your brain so much it delays sleep onset for up to 90 minutes!

Finally, in terms of sleep hygiene, it’s important to keep your bedroom cool and to use the bedroom for sleep not work, housework or storage.

No more working from bed or watching the TV while you do the ironing in the bedroom. Make it a sacred space and have a ritual at bedtime instead. Perhaps, you fold your clothes away, get into bed and spend a few minutes thinking about what went well that day. Then, turn the bedside lamp off and go to sleep.

Tips good night's sleep bedroom sanctuary

Photo by Tan Danh from Pexels

What we eat or drink

You probably know what’s coming next… the bad boys of beverage stimulants – caffeine and alcohol.

As you may know, caffeine stresses the body through the impact it has on your blood sugar, causing spikes and collapses that make your energy levels rollercoaster through the day. The general advice in relation to improving your sleep is to avoid caffeine (e.g. in tea, coffee, chocolate) after midday and perhaps switch over to herbal tea. I found drinking Chamomile very helpful, and also the last thing at night a combination of Limeflower and Passionflower helped me to drop off.

The advice on alcohol may be trickier in some ways.

The “ideal” time to drink alcohol from the perspective of a good night’s rest is actually 5.30/6pm.

So that’s good news for the after-work drink and bad news for the drink with or after dinner. It is best avoided close to bedtime too as, whilst it can appear to help you to get to sleep – it can also cause you to wake in the night. The best advice is not to drink every night, and especially to avoid drinking on consecutive nights if possible.

Tips for a good night’s sleep in terms of what to include in your diet.

Magnesium can be very useful. You may even choose to get checked for magnesium deficiency as too little can reduce the production of neurotransmitters that help to balance mood. Supplementing with magnesium works for many people I talked to. Generally, professionals seem to recommend 500mg, especially when combined with a specific amount of calcium. You can find a professional near you by searching for the British Association of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine website.

Mental factors

One of the most important things I learned during my flirtation with insomnia was that the more I worried about not being able to sleep the worse things got.

Cultivate a determined attitude that your body is still getting some rest if you lay down for several hours. Refuse to count how many hours sleep you feel you actually got. This will slowly but surely begin to work. With that in mind, I’m not a great fan of the smart devices that show you your sleep pattern. Use them sparingly in my view – perhaps as a source of information – but watch out for obsessing over how much and what type of sleep you did or didn’t get.

In general, I recommend focusing on relaxation and breathing exercises instead.

My own favourite breathing exercise: imagine that your breath is like a wave, entering through your feet and washing up the body to the crown of your head. Then, on the out breath, it washes back down the body and out the feet. You can imagine that the incoming wave brings anything you need more of in your life – my go-to is calm – and then the outgoing wave carries out of you anything you don’t need any more. It’s a beautiful relaxing visualisation. Breathing out my worries, disappointments, tensions, busy-ness, helps me enormously to wind down and let go. And then I find I can sleep.

And the remaining thing you can do is get help – talk to a professional if you are concerned. I have found Reiki has helped many clients get better rest, as does yoga nidra (yogic sleep) and yoga itself.

So please do contact me to discuss how you could benefit and get a better night’s rest, or go ahead and book an appointment.

The land of nod awaits!

body confidence girl mirror

Body Confidence: why it is so important in business

Your body confidence is your tool for making your mark in the world.

Minds and hearts alone won’t do it – we have to have a body to act through.

Think about it… we need

  • eyes to see,
  • ears to hear,
  • a voice to speak with,
  • hands to create, and help us to relate.
  • We need all the underlying structure to work for us to work – lungs to breathe, stomachs to fuel us, legs to take us from place to place.

It is through our body that we experience our world. We collect and filter sensory information through our many nerve endings and the brain, and through this information, we make sense of our experience. So in an immediate sense, I hope it is immediately obvious that having a good relationship with our body will lead us to better care for it, which in turn will set us up to be a better channel for our businesses.

But there’s a little more to it than the fact that our body is our physical avatar, our way of relating to and acting in the world. And that’s this:

The body is an energetic magnet to draw what we desire towards us and through us into reality.

That’s a bold statement, isn’t it? And what does it mean?

From an energy work perspective, there are four key energetic flows to know about and work within our lives.

  1. Firstly, we have the manifesting flow. The manifesting flow is the ability we all have to bring our inspiration through into reality.
  2. The liberating flow is the ability to rise above the humdrum detail of survival and reach towards self-actualisation (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
  3. The receiving flow is the means through which we allow ourselves to receive love, kindness, generosity, friendship and all the good things that we have coming our way.
  4. The giving flow is the one through which we give those same things – our love, care, kindness, empathy and support.

The body is the magnet that draws the manifesting flow into being. Think about it. Think about a recent innovation you’ve had in your business. It started as an idea – which you began to contemplate and think through, bringing it into your being through your crown chakra. You looked at it from all different angles (third eye chakra). You began to check it out with key influencers (your throat chakra). All the time it’s taking more shape.

At some point, you became committed to the idea (heart chakra). You began to take the necessary steps to put it into place (solar plexus chakra). You went to work to create it until it ‘felt’ right (sacral chakra). And finally, when everything was ready you gave birth to it (base chakra). That’s the manifesting flow – which moves fast for the simplest of ideas, and for those who’ve mastered it, and which can take months and years, even a lifetime, for things of more import.

We give birth to each new change in our lives in this way, and energetically we can make this process easier by creating a safe ground for our desires to take root and grow, just as the physical womb provides the safe environment for a foetus to grow.

If we have safe ground or home, for our desires, it is far easier to draw them in and we become a more efficient channel from inspiration to reality.

And that will make us considerably more effective in business.

So that’s one energetic and yes, an esoteric, reason to develop a truly loving and cherishing feeling towards our body – it creates a safe and loving home through which our desires can be born. We experience more alignment (which is what makes channelling our desires into reality possible), and we experience less resistance. We become better at both receiving and giving, which too makes us more efficient and effective – knowing what our boundaries need to be, setting and holding them for example; delegating where we need to; creating teams that play to individual strengths and so perform better overall. We also through our much-loved businesses move towards our own self-actualisation.

But what else? What of the more prosaic but nevertheless absolutely critical elements of how body confidence affects your business?

Well, firstly total ease in yourself creates ease in the people you are with.

We mirror and amplify each other’s state, so when you are with someone, you will know whether they are comfortable in their own skin or not. That means other people will sense whether you are too! You want your clients to relax into your expert care – whatever service or product you provide. They can only do so if YOU are relaxed in yourself, which is more fundamental than just “not currently stressed”.

Being at ease will help you become a better speaker, communicator, marketer, and deliverer of your service. Why? Because you will see an improvement in intuition (less interference to fight through), better decisions (same reason), better self-esteem, better relationships.

Being at ease with yourself is a core secret to charisma, alongside being totally present. You will become magnetic. And it will become possible to own the rooms you walk into just by being YOU. And when you can do THAT, clients will flock to you.

So, how do we do it?

The first step is to recognise how profoundly programmed we are and to PROTECT YOUR THOUGHTS.

We are bombarded with incessant messaging through the media, through peer pressure, possibly through our family, even through our literature, art, and other cultural expressions. What are the messages? Well, it seems to me I’m permanently stuck between being not enough of something and too much of something else:

Not thin enough, too vocal.

Too demanding, not fit enough.

Not pretty enough, too emotional.

I don’t fit into the small box that’s been designed for me, so I am judged for the too-muchness that spills out of its confines. I’m sure you have your own rock and a hard place too.

If you’re not sure you agree about the messaging, think about this. The apparently objectively most beautiful people in the world are regularly dressed and made up to create an image and then photoshopped like crazy afterwards. So it’s not even a REAL standard of beauty. It is, in fact, a completely unattainable one because it’s NOT real.

So, it’s time to remind yourself with diligence that these are not attainable ideals, and also that they are not YOURS.

What would YOUR beauty ideal be?

Secondly, identifying your own particular brand of judgement will help you know how to fight back against the specific voices in your head.

Think about it now… in the not enough / too much stakes, what do you tell yourself? Got some ideas? Ok then – pick one that really annoys you. Where did that originally come from?

You see it’s probably not even YOUR idea. It is almost definitely something that somebody somewhere along the line said to you and you took it on board. Whether that was a member of your family, a friend, someone at school; or picked up by comparing yourself with someone else, or overhearing a conversation, or hearing something on the radio or picking up something from TV. Was it really yours?

Babies don’t get born into the world with body shame. We pick it up along the way. Well, it’s time to stop perpetuating these self-denigrating myths. Each time we keep them going we distance ourselves from our body further. Instead of being on the same side we make an uneasy ally at best, or an enemy of our own vehicle for getting things done in the world. How silly is that?

So, we’ve set up guard against the wider societal pressure; we’ve identified our own troop of tripper-uppers.

NOW, what do we do….

Let’s just get rid of them! Let’s clear them out. Give them the old heave-ho.

There are so many ways, but one way that I’ve absolutely loved is EFT – emotional freedom technique which you might know as tapping. If you know it, you can use the prompts below to help you clear these old judgements. If you have never done it before or need a reminder, here is a link to a fantastic practitioner and his getting started advice – Rick at Thriving Now.

Tap using the fingers of one hand on the places named below; fill in the detail where I’ve put [xxxx] with the judgement you would really like to let go of…

  • The side of the other hand: Even though I [xxxx], even though I really [xxxx], even though I hugely [xxxx],
  • Top of the head: I’m open to the possibility that [something less judgemental and more open]
  • Eyebrow: I’m willing to see if [something new or different in the situation or about you]
  • The side of the eye: if just maybe [are more redeemable than you originally thought!!]
  • Upper lip: [then begin to set up a positive alternative that you could credibly believe instead]
  • Chin: [reaffirm the positive statement, either with new words or repeating the same]
  • Collar bone: [continue to affirm the new for the rest of the places]
  • Under the arm: [continue to affirm the new for the rest of the places]
  • Top of the head: [affirm once more the new]
  • Breathe in and out…..

The more fun and completely ridiculous you’re willing to be in your judgements the better (because they are what you are secretly thinking anyway).

THEN, having cleared out all the old rubbish, we want to make a decision to think new thoughts about ourselves.

Make a decision RIGHT NOW that when you look in the mirror you will ONLY notice what works about your body and what you love about your body and affirm it to yourself out loud. Perhaps you like the wicked sparkle in your eye.  Maybe you’re grateful to your feet for walking you from appointment to appointment today. Perhaps instead of seeing a soft tummy, you think how grateful you are for the babies that soft tummy represents. Perhaps you always had a soft tummy and you realise that its part of your essential gorgeous womanhood. I don’t know what the trigger points are for you, but you do. Take care of them (literally).

And finally, the icing on the cake is that the very best way to develop your body confidence is to do more of what your body loves.

Eat the food that makes your body feel best. Sleep the sleep your body loves. Exercise the way your body most enjoys. Have the sex your body most enjoys! And do what you love. Give your body pleasure and not only does life become a whole lot more fun, but your body and you will also be best friends and it will work SOOO much better for you.

And if you need help getting your body confidence back, book a coaching session with me now. It will be my privilege to help.

Retreats at Joanne Sumner Wellbeing

Cleansing relaxation script

This relaxation script is based on a cleansing practice in yoga. It works with the different layers of the human energy field.

Within yoga, the physical body is seen just as the densest part of your being.

The other component parts are:

  • The energy body
  • emotional body
  • mental body
  • and the bliss body or spiritual body.

And you can see them as almost like a set of Russian dolls with the physical body as the smallest central one.

The spiritual body is the most expanded and least dense but they interpenetrate each other, so you can’t fully separate one from the other. And we don’t need to try!

Cleansing relaxation script 5 koshas

Actually, we  want to recognize that physical things that are happening in our body have an effect on:

  • our energy,
  • our emotions,
  • mental state
  • our feeling of being well in ourselves
  • and on our feeling of joy, which I think is the thing I associate most with the spiritual body.

The same is true the other way: if something happens that affects your spirit, you’re in low spirits, then it can weaken all the other layers too. So, we might be more likely to get colds for example.

In this meditation practice, we’re going to work with cleaning these layers.

We’re cleaning them of all the sticky residues from life events. These can be things like arguments, or something that happened on the tube, or things that you’ve been thinking through, and you’re worried about. It can all leave a sticky residue that you’re then carrying around.

The problem is that, because it’s sticky, it attracts other things that stick to it. For example, as a result of an argument, normally and very humanly, we carry that residue from the argument into the next conversation that we have or the next meeting that we have and we can end up being more prickly ourselves. Then, of course, if we’re more prickly in a new conversation, we make it more likely that the person we are speaking to, then, gets a bit prickly. So, you can see how it builds.

What I want for our meditation today is to just release some of that, letting go, releasing and smoothing out the energy field.

So, we can have a smoother experience in our life and a happier one.

We’re going to start by imagining that we’re lying down inside an egg-shaped energy field.

You’re in the centre of this egg shape: it extends maybe about a foot out from your body in every direction.

When we breathe in, we breathe gold light up, around the edge of the egg and also fill the right side of the egg with gold light.

When we breathe out, we are breathing silver light from the crown of our head all the way down the left side of the egg, filling the left side.

So, we have the gold light on the right-hand side and the silver light on the left.

Gold relates to solar energy, which is our drive to get things done. Silver energy relates to the lunar, receptive, replenishing energy.

Our yoga class sits more in the left side, it’s in the giving-back side. We’re balancing the two things out with this visualization, too.

You could add as the final element a very simple affirmation. You just say the affirmation inside yourself in your own mind, very simply:

I am calm and relaxed.

We typically use nine breaths and we all breathe at different paces. So I’m just gonna hand over to you to count.


Now, Imagine a smaller egg, about a hand’s breadth out from your body. It has 2 layers and it represents the energy and emotional bodies.

Keep breathing gold light in and out the right-hand side breathing silver light out and down the left-hand side. Keep repeating:

I am calm and relaxed.

Count nine breaths, starting when you’re ready…

Now, shrink your attention even further, coming to your spinal cord.

So, you’re breathing up and down the length of the spine, coming right up to your brain and then back down.

Breathe nine times gold light up the length, and silver light down and out. This time, an affirmation that works for me is

I am at peace.

Then, release the focus on the breath and just expand your attention to notice how you feel, just a light check on how your energy and mental state feel.

Joanne Sumner runs Yoga Classes in Ealing and Meditation Classes in West London.