Is a good night’s sleep really a fairytale?

April 16 2014

Anne MareeAnnemaree Rowley, Founder of Cool, Calm, Collected

There is a fabulous quote that I often use when I am teaching meditation and yoga to assist people to sleep. “A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.”  ~ Charlotte Brontë. In a nutshell it is ‘thinking’ (and it’s associated emotions) that can seriously hamper a gorgeous night’s rest. Bronte had it in one!

Is a good night’s sleep really a fairytale for most? Well, I do remember reading a Pfizer Australia Health Report some years back (with a sample size of 1600). You may be interested in some of these facts and be relieved to know you are not on your own.

A true eye-opener…..(unfortunately).

10% of Australians are turning to sleeping tablets to help them cope with the nation’s rising rate of sleep debt. Of the one in ten who use sleeping tablets, a third admit to taking them every night.

20% reported being disturbed between three and five times every night. Close to two-thirds reported difficulty going to sleep.

Two-in-five say they do not wake up feeling refreshed and close to two-thirds feel sleepy during the day more often than once a week.

Not surprisingly, more than 70 percent of those surveyed feel their ability to get to sleep is affected by the level of work/school or everyday stresses, and that they sleep better when relaxed.

And most importantly…..

“Insomnia is often caused by worrying,”This, combined with the long hours and stresses of our 24-hour society, is a recipe for leaving the majority of the population living in a constant state of fatigue. Not to mention bad moods! Not a healthy, or safe, way to live. 

Thinking promises to give us solutions and they have their good points, but the more we think the worse we think. There is truth in the saying, “You think too much”.  Thinking stimulates our nervous system and can exhaust us. It burns through our reserves and 1/3 of our body’s daily energy expenditure occurs in our brain. A tired mind cannot make decisions clearly.

It’s the emotional charge behind our thoughts that stirs us up.  It is worrying (about the future), anger (over someone or something), irritation (family members), even desire (planning for the weekend) that can cause us not to sleep well.

Good things stimulate the mind just as bad things.  E.g. what we see and can buy every day – having to have. We may feel troubled beneath the surface of our busy lives, worried about ageing, illness, not achieving, irrational hopes etc. Our minds then fixate on small things and we lose our sense of proportion and then we react to a red light or a lost sock as if our world is collapsing.

I could go on and on but what can seriously help you to rest your mind? (Then in turn rest your body)? Yes, you have heard it before. Meditation. (Guided or otherwise). This is what it will do for you…

Very simply put, it will slow down the thought process, stop you from dwelling on the negative, teach you to detach from the adrenalin-pumping, emotional connections to thoughts, and bring peace and sleep back into your life.

Annemaree’s favourite sleep remedies…

Śāntimarga - Path to Peace’ CD - I have been told by many of my students that whenever they listen to my CD – ‘Śāntimarga - Path to Peace’  I send them to sleep.  In fact, when I recorded it and tried to listen to the demo tape, I sent myself to sleep.  That says something, and that is what it has been designed for. You can try it out here.

Golden Milk – this is another antidote that we often recommend in yoga as it’s an excellent nightcap. Milk contains tryptophan, which induces healthy sleep and calcium which is more easily taken up by the body overnight.

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The Golden Milk recipe…


¼-⅓ tsp turmeric
250ml milk (soy or dairy)
1 tsp almond oil
1 tsp honey

1. Put a little bit of water in the bottom of a mug or glass
2. Add the turmeric and rest for 30 seconds
3. Add milk and cook on high for 1 minute
4. Add the almond oil and honey