From stylish Scandi interiors to amazing food and chic fashion, Switzerland has inspired many aspects of our day-to-day lives. However, according to one expert, we should be going one step further and incorporating the Swiss philosophy of Sophrology into our sleep habits – and the difference when we do could be striking.
‘In Switzerland, there is an emphasis on quality sleep being a major contributor to people being healthier, happier and more productive,’ explains Dominique Antiglio, Sophrologist and Author of best-selling The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology (be-sophro.co.uk).
‘This focus on the importance of sleep can be seen in the number and quality of sleep retreats in the country, where people travel from across the world to visit in order to learn the most effective sleep-inducing techniques, namely Sophrology (a type of dynamic relaxation that is taught from school-age in Switzerland) and meditation.
‘There are also sleep clinics that deal with sleeping disorders and state-of-the-art sleep labs where research is conducted into the science of sleep. The take-away is that the Swiss take sleep seriously.’
So, what do we need to do to follow in their well-rested footsteps?
5 simple ways to sleep like the Swiss
1. The Swiss are blessed with a proximity to nature and fresh mountain air that instils a sense of calm and escape but there are plenty of parks, canals and scenic spots in the UK where you can hide and let the mind and body wind down after a long day’s work. This moment of calm will set you in good stead just before bed time.
2. Creative a positive environment for your sleep by rounding off the night with some verveine (also known as lemon verbena) tea, a Swiss favourite. It’s naturally caffeine-free and has a soothing citrusy aroma, so ideal for easing the senses and helping you drift off to sleep.
3. Make like the Swiss and practice Sophrology (a type of dynamic relaxation) before bed. The practice has been used by the Swiss for decades to prepare the body and mind for a restful sleep, as well as to keep stress levels to a minimum throughout the day. It is so effective that it is even used in the country’s sleep retreats and clinics to help patients suffering from sleep disorders. I have included an exercise further below.
4. The Swiss have more space in their homes for this to be more practical, but setting clear boundaries between work and entertainment spaces, and the bedroom is key to distraction-free sleeping. Do try to keep the bedroom as a designated rest and relaxation (and tech-free) space to minimise stimulation when you’re just about to head to bed.
5. The Swiss start off their day earlier, sometimes being at the office as early as 6.30am, so that they can leave earlier to spend more time outdoors or with the family, before gently winding down for bed.
The 60-second Sophrology exercise that will help you fall asleep
Focus on your body sensations and feel the movement of the breath. Are there any sensations of tightness in your body, worry in your mind or agitation as a whole? Inhale, clenching all the muscles in your body as you hold your breath, then do a long exhale to release all those tensions. Repeat 5 times and then pause, inviting your body into a relaxing body scan. Then concentrate on a positive image of your choice to lull you into a slumber.