Sleep and mental health are intertwined with each other. Depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders among many other problems sprouting from other mental issues can result in insomnia. Therefore, in order to sleep healthy, you’ve got to keep your mind healthy.
Our first sleep influencer is Lily Silverton. Lily is a mindset coach, wellbeing teacher, speaker, and journalist. She is also the host of “Priorities” podcast. Lily has over 20 years of meditation and yoga experience. Most importantly, she is helping people every day to live happily and transform their lives through meditation and yoga. Well, that’s an amazing job! Isn’t it?
We got a chance to talk to Lily about sleep and mental wellbeing. And here’s what she had to say about it!
Why did you choose this profession and when did you realise you can help others with their mental wellbeing and stress issues?
Lily: I’ve been working in wellness since 2016, and since the beginning, I’ve dedicated my work to try to help people with their overall mental wellbeing. I chose this profession (or it chose me!?) because I have a lot of personal experience with mental health issues, and I wanted to share the tools, techniques and knowledge that helped me with my own mental health with others.
In one of your articles, you’ve discussed the importance of sleep over exercise and diets. Intermittent fasting is a trend these days but for a healthy mental life, you prefer intuitive eating. Our eating habits also affect our sleeping pattern (such as a high intake of caffeine and oily food etc). How can we prevent food from affecting our sleep pattern while also following intuitive eating?
Lily: I think if you are following intuitive eating, then, for the most part, you’ll naturally eat in a way that complements your sleep pattern. Also, some people are highly affected by caffeine and oily food but others have no problem eating a few doughnuts and having an espresso and going straight to sleep. I think if you are struggling with sleep then it’s important to stop drinking caffeine after midday, but sleep problems are often more connected to psychological and external stressors than food.
According to you, yoga and meditation are essential for our mental wellbeing. However for insomnia, what do you think helps more – yoga or meditation?
Lily: I think it depends on the person. I recommend meditation for everything. However, it has been found, if practised before going to bed, Yoga can be helpful to cure insomnia. When I struggle with sleep, I use a guided body scan and meditation for sleep. I have these available on my site.
You always focus on anxiety and its consequences on our lives. How does anxiety affect our sleeping pattern?
Lily: Anxiety can have a huge impact on our sleeping pattern, as its most prevalent aspect – worry – is very good at keeping us up and waking us up in the middle of the night.
For anxiety and sleep, I recommend a grounding meditation and/or a guided body scan as this is a good way to redirect the mind away from anxious and worried thoughts and help stop that whirring of the mind.
You’re doing an amazing “Home To Self” online course, which aims to help people with anxiety and stress. You have a very balanced course module for it but how can this four weeks online course help someone who is suffering from non-clinical anxiety for many years? What’s the secret recipe 🙂
Lily: Thank you 🙂 The secret is helping people re-pattern their thoughts. Life on its own isn’t inherently stressful, it’s our thoughts and beliefs about events that make them stressful or anxiety-inducing. So, alongside meditation and breath/bodywork tools to help with stress and anxiety, the course encourages people to explore their habitual thought patterns and find new ways to mentally approach their lives.
When your students or followers approach you for insomnia and other sleep-related issues, what is their biggest concern? Can you share your experiences of how you help them cure their insomnia? Also, what is their general feedback?
Lily: Their biggest concerns are anxiety, social media use, and feeling busy/in demand all the time. I work with them to create more of a stable routine, and also to look at some of the reasons behind why they have habits that don’t help them sleep. For example, if you’re looking at social media every night until 10/11 pm (or later!), and it makes you feel sh*t about yourself, then why do you keep doing it? You can’t just tell someone to change a habit, you must work with them to help them understand why they are doing something repeatedly that they know doesn’t make them feel good. So I work with them on a deeper level, changing their beliefs about themselves and of course their thought patterns. In general, in terms of routine, I try to get them to a place where they are: exercising x3/4 times a week, incorporating a bit of yoga, daily meditation and breathwork, and avoiding screens (turn off phones etc and leave outside the bedroom) for at least 2 hours before sleep and for 30 mins after they wake up in the morning.
Being a mindset coach and wellbeing teacher, what do you think are some of the key reasons for rising insomnia among young adults and how can we avoid them?
Lily: I think anxiety plays a big part, which is understandable. As well as the prevalence of screens and general complicated demands of modern life. Also, many people simply don’t move enough during the day to sleep well at night, so exercise is important. See above for my recommendations 🙂
Well, wasn’t this interview super enlightening? According to Lily, everything connects back to our habits and routine. If the mind is at peace, the body itself relaxes. So, be it insomnia, anxiety, stress or any other troubling issues, meditation can help you achieve if-not-an-extraordinary-life then at least a better life.
Featured Photo from lilysilverton.com
Written by Shahana Khatoon
This is a post by Shahana Khatoon, who is currently pursuing an MA in English. She loves to read, write and explore. She believes poetry can cure anything in this world, even sleep deprivation. If you want to know how and which poems can cure insomnia then you can talk to her and follow her on Instagram.