A good night’s sleep will allow you to have fewer cravings, be more creative and solve problems with ease. But many of us spend hours tossing and turning. Did you know that 43 million prescriptions for sleep medications are written each year? Instead of reaching for some pills, why not try some natural methods.
1. Simple Yoga – in a study led by neuroscientist Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD., it was found that doing this simple exercise created deeper and longer sleep. Before bed, sit on the floor with your legs crossed, pressing your palms together against the middle of the chest. Inhale deeply through your abdomen so that you feel your belly expand, then exhale and allow it to relax. Breath as slowly as you can focusing on your breath. The longer you go, the more relaxed and ready for sleep you will be.
2. Walking – Ahh, my favorite. In a study at University of Arizona, those who walked at least 6 brisk blocks daily slept longer and did not wake up during the night. The best time to walk is after work or early evening. Your body temperature rises during exercise, then falls about 1 1/2 hours later, helping you feel relaxed and drowsy.
3. Carbohydrates – Eating a snack that is rich in carbohydrates, but low in fat and protein helps make insulin levels rise. This decreases the levels of amino acids that prevent the brain from making serotonin, a chemical that helps you feel drowsy and relaxed. Eat foods such as a whole grain cracker at least 1/2 hour before bed. Any closer to bed time and your digestive system will react and keep you awake.
4. Stay away from caffeine – That means avoid coffee, tea and soda. Also watch out for chocolate, cold medicines and diet pills. Caffeine causes insomnia and restlessness.
5. Progressive muscle relaxation – A big cause of sleeplessness is the stress you bring to bed. Muscle relaxation will allow your body to relax and bring sleep. As you lie in bed, lie on your back in a comfortable position. Begin by tensing the muscles in your face for about 8 seconds, then relax. Feel the relaxation. Move to your neck and shoulders; tense the muscles, then relax. Continue to move down your body with each muscle group. Your arms, your chest, your back, your stomach, etc., right down to your toes. You may find that you all asleep before you get all the way through.
6. Visualization – Think of a scenario where you know you would be relaxed and stress free. Perhaps on a tropical beach or out in the woods. Imagine how your scene looks, imagine the sounds, and the smells. Hear the waves or the gurgle of a creek. Hear the birds, smell the flowers. The more vivid your imagination, the better to help you relax.
7. Reduce stimulation – If you love watching TV before bed, choose programming that does not have a lot of action. If you don’t, the action will become a part of your dreams keeping you awake. If you’ve been out to a party, you will be full of energy. Before going to bed, find something relaxing to do to unwind. Any of the techniques here would work.
8. Lavender – The essential oil distilled from lavender has been used widely for a natural sleep aid. Dab a drop on your pillow or put a sachet under your pillow. You can even apply some directly to tight muscles to help them relax, but watch for out allergic reactions.
Next time you have trouble sleeping, try out of these methods. Then be like this kitty. Good night, sleep tight.