To celebrate World Sleep Day we chat to Alison Francis aka Anandi.
Alison Francis (AKA Anand) is the founder of The Sleep Guru and developer of Sleepology. She has been working in the wellness field for 25 years, working with busy people who are stressed, foggy headed and unable to concentrate due to sleep deprivation.
Anandi knows personally what it’s like to suffer from insomnia . Her credentials include Ayurvedic practitioner, NLP practitioner, Senior Akhanda yoga teacher and Akhanda yoga teacher trainer. She’s also a Chopra meditation instructor and the author of ‘Breathe Better Sleep Better’ which explains how to use the breath as a healing tool, not just for sleep, but for wellbeing as a whole.
Anandi’s message to the world is that you don’t need drugs for insomnia, you just need balance.
In your work as a yoga instructor among your other specialities, are you aware of people who complain of neck or back pain ?
My clients often talk of back and neck pain, many caused by a combination of stress, poor posture and poor breathing. If people are uncomfortable in bed with their spine and neck not supported, it will certainly exacerbate the problem. I work in a holistic way and believe that the small details, when put together make all the difference to the quality of sleep.
Tell us about your bedtime routine? Do you have one?
My evening wind down is fundamental . Im very strict about switching my mobile phone onto aircraft mode so I feel that I physically and mentally cut myself off from the world. I have herbal tea in the middle of the evening. I like to have the lights low, or candlelight as that helps the wind down process and I nearly always meditate for 20 mins before sleep.
How do you wake up in the morning?
I do have my alarm on my phone, but I have it wake me up with my favourite mantra Purnamadam at 05.45. I’m on my yoga mat by 6am. My practice is around 1hr 45 mins and is a combination of meditation, pranayama, asana practice and savasana on my amythest crystal BioMat.
Once I’ve finished my practice I have breakfast and listen to the news on LBC radio!
What first piqued your interest in Sleep Health?
Sleep for me is a very personal thing as I suffered terribly from insomnia for many years. It wasn’t until I went to India and stayed in an Ashram for 6 weeks, that I realised I had it all wrong! I found yoga, Ayurveda and in particular at that time the divine breath.
If you had to narrow it down to three, what are your most important sleep tips?
- Rhythm is of great importance. Your body is in a cycle of 24 hours called the circadian rhythm and does certain things at certain times. When you are in tune with this, your body finds it easy to carry it’s various functions. However, when going uphill at irregular times, it will struggle. Sleep is one of these functions. Going to bed about 10pm and getting up at 6am is the best rhythm.
- Eating very light and early in the evening is very important. Your body needs to drop its core temperature in order to go into a deep sleep, if your body is digesting food, your core body temperature will rise and therefore inhibit you going into a deep sleep.
- Having a wind down ritual in the evening and decent work/life balance is important for sensitive sleepers.
Do you think that in general as a society our quality and quantity of sleep is getting worse, why do you think this is and how can we improve?
The NHS give out 10 million prescriptions for sleep medication per year. That’s pretty indicative of the state of our sleep. We run on empty, put too much pressure on ourselves and we’ve become separate with too large an ego. It’s all about ‘me’ and ‘mine’. There’s plenty to go round! Modern entrepreneurs are including giving back into their business models as that is good for the soul. There’s nothing more stressful to the human being than being less on the outside than one is capable on the inside. Sometimes sleeplessness is a message from the soul. There’s a reason why it’s keeping you awake!
What difference has the Reflex Pillow made to your sleep and do you recommend it to your clients?
I absolutely love the Reflex Pillow, it sits so nicely round my neck and I actually look forward putting my head down on the pillow at night. Stress just melts away! Yes, I certainly do recommend it to clients.
Do you have any events coming up in advance of World Sleep Day on March 15th?
I’m speaking at the Sleep Show in London on World Sleep Day.