There is almost nothing more important than for us to get a good night’s sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, there may be some simple things under your nose that could be affecting your ability to deeply rest.
What is Feng Shui?
You are all doing feng shui already, whether you are aware of it or not. The basic principle is to bring into balance whatever is out of balance. You do this when it gets too hot out and you open a window or take off a layer of clothing. You do this when it gets too dark outside and you turn on a light bulb. The only difference between you and a feng shui master is that you are doing everything intuitively via trial and error rather than fully understanding the principles of energy that are affecting you.
Feng Shui is About Energy
The way in which we can understand the “energy” of a space is the initial reaction we have to it the moment we walk into a room or building. I call this our inner stoplight: green light, yellow light and red light. If you walk into someone’s home, your first reaction may be “Ahhhhhh.” It feels good, feels like home. This is green light. It may also be “Nooooooooo.” It feels like you instantly don’t want to be there. This is red light. Or perhaps your reaction is “Meh.” You feel neutral about it. Neither good nor bad. Neither drawn in or wanting to leave. This inner awareness will serve you well.
The Purpose of a Bedroom
When I ask people what the purpose of a bedroom is, 90% of them say sleep (the other 10% say sex, love and intimacy, which is also true but for today, let’s focus on rest). This lets me know that we, as a society, are sleep deprived. There may be things within your space that are affecting your ability to fall (and stay) asleep. So the simplest rule of thumb is to eliminate anything in the bedroom that isn’t serving the purpose of that space.
Set Yourself for a Better Night’s Sleep
Treat your bedroom as a sanctuary. This is your private space (it is for you and about you), so don’t let the worries of the outside world make it in here. There is a time and a place to address these concerns and while you are trying to rest in your bed is not one of them. Create some separation when you cross the threshold to your room.
Remove What Isn’t Serving You
Clutter: This means different things to different people, but if you are feeling claustrophobic, you will have a harder time resting. If your room is disorganized, you will have a harder time relaxing. If your room has lots of distractions, you will not be able to focus on the task at hand: rejuvenation. Go through and do a sweep of your space.
Stuff Under the Bed: Sometimes people think that just because something is out of sight that it doesn’t affect them. This may work for an ostrich, but it doesn’t work for humans. We can feel things even if we don’t see them (remember the stoplight.) If you live in a city, you may not have a lot of closet space. Or any storage. But you should have the space under your bed be free for air to pass through if you want to sleep better. What is your priority? Those old winter sweaters? Or your overall health and wellness?
Remove Work from the Bedroom: If your job matters to you, you will want to do a good job. Many people feel like their work will never end. They bring work into the bedroom with the intention of being a good employee or boss. But most of the time, they are creating a win-lose scenario. It might be a win for the emails you are checking, but a lose for your ability to disconnect from what you are focused on all day long. Please leave the work outside.
Bed Position: When we are children, the safest place for us to sleep is in the corner with a wall protecting us on one side and a solid wall behind us. As we become an adult, we may move our beds away from the wall (so that someone can join us in our bed), but we still want to feel protected and safe so that we can rest fully. There is a feng shui principle called “command position” or “power position,” which is essentially where the Godfather would sit in a restaurant: The far corner (not the front of the room or in the path of the doorway) and with your back to a solid wall (no window or door behind your head). For our purposes, this is like creating our very own safe spot and it will allow us to turn off the part of our brain that relates to fight or flight.
Mirrors: There are two types of energy in feng shui: Active (Yang) and relaxing (Yin). Mirrors are very activating for our energy. Nothing good can come from a mirror being in your bedroom while you are trying to rest. Mirrors are for awake-time activities only. Remove them, turn around those closeted doors or cover them: by draping a scarf over it or hanging a curtain in front of them. You can see yourself again in the morning.
Wi-Fi: Thank goodness we can all stay connected. There are so many benefits to having this technology in our lives. But Wi-Fi (hubs and base stations) put forth an energy that is stimulating and not restful. Get it out from under or near the bed, and ideally out of the bedroom.
What to Bring Into the Bedroom to Support Sleep
Negative ions are sometimes referred to as vitamins of the air. These have been known to help with depression as they help clear our minds. They are also known to boost creativity. They exist in nature where ocean falls against rock, where the wind blows through the trees and in the air after lightning and rain. We can help replicate what is found in nature by using:
Himalayan Rock Salt Lamps: These generate negative ions when they heat up. You can get the kind that heat up with a lightbulb or the kind that heat up with a tea light candle. The mineral content in this kind of lamp helps to charge the air with negative ions.
Beeswax Candles: Bees are incredibly smart. Their wax burns cleanly, helping to purify the air and charging the air with negative ions.
Shower Before Bed: We sometimes get our best ideas in the shower, right? We can feel instantly better as the water rushes over us and the thousands of little drops of water rub up against each other and generate a flood of negative ions to help us feel as though we are outside in nature.
Aromatherapy: This is also quite beneficial to help us relax. This is where the essence of the flower is condensed into a spray bottle or oil infuser and fills the air with an amazing smell as well as something that can help you relax. You’ll want to make sure that it is high quality. See if you can get your hands on some lavender or even Palo Santo, which is a special wood from South America.
How Can I Rest My Mind Too?
This is perhaps the most important environment of all, because it is the one that is the closest to us. The thoughts we are thinking can stimulate our brains to send out chemicals to prepare us to take on the battles of the world. These chemicals are not our allies while we are trying to rest, relax and rejuvenate. Since most of us are involved in work, our families or watching TV right up until we get into bed, see if you can create a bedtime ritual. This can look a lot of different ways, including, but not limited to:
Getting the Words Out: Our minds go and go, our thoughts race and race. See if you can get them out on paper. Use the 10 minutes before (or just after getting into) bed to get whatever is inside out. Write down a list for the next day, or the troubles on your mind in a journal. You can also write creatively. The point is that if the words come out of you, they are less likely to swim around your brain all night long.
Breathing: One of the best things that sleep does for us is that we breath long slow relaxing breaths which helps to flood our body with oxygen, removing waste from our cells and helping our body repair. You can learn different breathing techniques that will help you replicate this kind of breathing and help the body prepare itself for sleep.
Think Peaceful Thoughts: You can go as far as to explore the different types of meditation but the basic principle is: Whatever you focus on grows. A simple technique is to breathe the words “let go” as part of your bedtime ritual. Every inhale you can think the word “let,” every exhale you can think the word “go.” Start letting go of your worries with each passing breath. You can focus on them again tomorrow. For tonight...just for tonight...let go.