Have you been waking up during the night with a million thoughts and just can’t seem to fall back asleep? Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or do you simply always feel tired during the day? You are not alone!
Sleep hygiene: What you can do to improve your night's sleep naturally!
First, start improving your sleep with following the first six suggestions below and save some focus for the last tip, my personal favorite which can be explained by a mind, body energy technique as described in number seven!!
1) Do not eat a heavy meal (especially red meat and spicy foods) four hours before bedtime
2) Decrease or stop caffeine in your diet. Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system (of the methylxanthine class) that may stay in your system sometimes up to 8-10 hours. Rule of thumb for sufferers of insomnia: Don't drink caffeinated coffee after noon.
3) Use a proper, contoured therapeutic pillow. If your neck is stressed throughout the night or doesn't have the proper support, pain may disrupt your sleep and might even awaken with a stiff neck.
4) Purchase a supportive and comfortable mattress that doesn't sag or generate heat. Support, comfort and maintaining a very comfortable body temperature are three key elements to a perfect nights' sleep.
5) Draw the drapes to maintain the darkest room possible throughout the night. Also, be sure and cover up (perhaps with masking tape or a dark cloth) your LED lights in the room. Both the aforementioned help to keep your maximum amount of melatonin (your sleep hormone) in your system.
6) Go to bed and wake-up at consistent times. This is a key part in maintaining a good circadian rhythm.
7) Then, if you have trouble falling asleep because of tension, anxiety or find yourself waking up during the night with thoughts that are just not allowing you to fall asleep, try this mind-body technique that has worked for many of my patients and certainly works for me:
"Begin to think each of the following words individually, slowly during every exhale: "love, gratitude, forgiveness and healing."
The key is controlled, rhythmical breathing that starts from your diaphragm. Start with lying on your back or side, placing your hand on your abdomen, and breathing in through your nose for a count of seven. Feel like you are filling your stomach with air (pushing your hand outward), which allows you to press your diaphragm downwards, expanding your lower lungs. Then, slowly release this air (through your nose) for another count of seven. Continue doing this at least ten times, which is a little over two minutes.
Once you get comfortable with this breathing technique, begin to think each of the following words individually, slowly during every exhale: love, gratitude, forgiveness and healing.
Focus on what each word means to you one by one, with each breath you release. Continue for several minutes, the exact same breathing technique; experiencing the meaning of each of the words, as you slowly and gently release the tension and pressure from your mind and body. This will most likely increase your relaxation, clear your mind, and improve your chemistry to allow you to reduce your tension and enjoy a better night’s sleep.
If these steps are not effective, you may need to see a physician that specializes in sleep and talk to your doctor about other possible medical issues, such as respiratory, gastrointestinal, sleep apnea or other conditions that may be causing a physical or chemical change in your body. Let’s start with some ideas that may help you solve your problem naturally.
And always remember, you sleep for almost a third of your life!! Be sure and focus on the habits and thoughts that you can change to "Improve your Life through Better Sleep"(R).