Savouring, a sleep saviour: Letting gentle waves of past joyous moments lull you to sleep

Express News Service

You have switched off the lights, put away the phone, even put on some relaxing music. Yet sleep eludes. What gives? As it turns out, it’s easier to minimise external stimuli, but internal stimuli is a field of countless sheep. 

In recent times, therefore, what has been an eye-opener in the science of shuteye is a technique called savouring. Much like one savours a delectable dish or time spent with a loved one, the method is all about letting the gentle waves of past joyous moments lull you to sleep.

One of the many mindful practices under positive psychology, savouring emphasises embracing joyfulness and gratitude—though the difference lies in feeling it rather than just thinking about it. 

A term coined by researchers Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff in their 2007 book Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, which explores the role of appreciating enjoyable experiences to increase wellbeing, savouring represents the counterpart of coping. When you recreate a positive memory, your brain reacts by reliving it all over again. By cosciously letting go of stressful thoughts and replacing them with relaxing ones, the aim is to create a mindset that facilitates restfulness. Here’s how to make it effective:

Dwell in delight: Spend an hour or two before bed recalling a joyful memory, big or small, and describe it in detail. A childhood memory, a vacation with friends, a celebration in the family, or your favourite meal or a walk with your dog, recreate it as vividly as possible. A caveat: do this during your winding-down routine as focusing too intensely can be stimulating.

Swap stressful thoughts with positive ones: The savouring technique does allow you to ruminate over anxious thoughts—just not at bedtime. Set aside 15 minutes—five to six hours before bed—to process worries or thoughts that bother you before letting them go for the rest of the evening. Although it may seem challenging to not let the monkey mind take over after the 15-minute worry session, view it as a skill that can be improved and strengthened over time.

Pen your problems: Research published in JMIR Mental Health in 2019 revealed a correlation between sleep and mood. 

A positive mood during the day results in better sleep and vice versa. An effective way to manage stressful emotions and feelings is to transfer them from mind to paper. It helps to process and work through them, and gradually replace them with positive ones. You can also counter the negative thoughts by writing about moments of joy on the next page. When it comes to sleep, savouring is indeed a saviour.

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