Sleep…one of the main challenges that I get asked about as a health professional. How to get a good nights sleep? It seems to evade every other person out there…but getting a goodnight’ss sleep is easier than you may have thought! This has more to do with what these relaxation techniques are doing inside our bodies, rather than simply putting us in more of a relaxed state. The key is not only to fall asleep, but to stay asleep, and here’s the nutshell of how and why it will happen.
The Healthy Body is a machine, and functions, or malfunctions, based on what we are exposing it to, how we are treating it, and often times, simply not being aware of how our internal processes work! Our hormones control all physical and chemical processes that take place in the entire Healthy Body. We have many different hormones that all play a key roll in how our bodies are functioning, and when these are in balance, sleep is effortless! When they are not, it seems nothing we do will yield a better slumber. First of all, we have two different hormones that regulate our sleeping patterns. Cortisol and Melatonin. Not only is Cortisol our fight or flight stress hormone, but it’s also the hormone that tells our bodies that it’s time to wake up, and stay awake! Melatonin is the hormone we need to tell our Healthy Body that it’s time for rest and repair.
Here are some excellent relaxation techniques that help to keep these two partners in balance for the best sleep ever:
1. Turn off all artificial light (including screens) by 8pm.
This is a wonderful time to relax by avoiding screens. The best time to take a bath, write, draw, meditate, or simply relax with yourself, which is something that most people do not leave as much time for as we should! Here is why: The way that circadian rhythm (our natural sleeping pattern) works, is that we are meant to sleep from 10:00pm to 6:00am. Our cortisol is meant to be running throughout the morning and then completely calm down by 6:00pm, when Melatonin begins to take over. Any artificial light within two to three hours of 10:00pm, gets our Cortisol kicking and Melatonin then gets suppressed, thus falling and staying asleep becomes a problem.
2. Practice a relaxing “work in” exercise.
Just like Tai Chi, or Qigong. My favourite is my own free style slow and methodical dance movements incorporating stretching. You can move in whichever way you like, just make sure that your heart rate stays low and that you can maintain breathing through the nose. Here is Why: These slow and methodical movements stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (our system that is responsible for rest, repair, metabolization, rejuvenation, etc). We need this system to be the one that is turned on in the evening and during the night, especially when a better nights sleep is the goal! Ã¯Â¿Â¼
3. Sun meditation: Morning and Evening Sun meditation.
a. Morning meditation within 20 minutes of rising sun. Do 6 minutes of alternate nostril breathing and then 15-20 min relaxed breathing while gazing directly at the rising sun. b. Evening meditation within 20 minutes of setting
b. Evening meditation within 20 minutes of setting sun. Same breathing as morning.
c. Ideal to do sun meditation in bare feet. If it’s too cold then stand on earth, grass or natural stone or wood. Here’s Why: Breathing through alternate nostrils balances the right and left brain hemispheres, and also the nervous systems. This will gear the Healthy Body up for rest and relaxation, and helps to put us to sleep much quicker than we otherwise would! 4. Keep a journal of anxious thoughts: Keep a journal around that you can record all of your anxious and especially negative thoughts in.
Here’s Why: Breathing through alternate nostrils balances the right and left brain hemispheres, and also the nervous systems. This will gear the Healthy Body up for rest and relaxation, and helps to put us to sleep much quicker than we otherwise would!
4. Keep a journal of anxious thoughts
Keep a journal around that you can record all of your anxious and especially negative thoughts in. Over time you have an anxious thought, simply write it down in the journal and focus on the positive side of that same situation, or the potential of the positive side, if the positive side is just too hard to reach at the time.
Here is Why: When we write things down, it moves the thought process from circling around in our minds, into a streamlined thought on the paper. This creates more space in the mind to relax and helps us to focus on other more positive things. When you focus on the positive side of any given thought, or situation, or even the potential of the positive side, this helps to re-wire our brains to think more positive thoughts rather than negative, so we can have a clearer mind more ready to shut down for the night and allow us to sleep with more ease.
5. Give yourself a relaxing massage
Purchase Essential Oils of Frankincense and Lavender. To be sure these oils are of the best quality (it makes a difference!), I use and very highly recommend the brand Young Living.
a. Use 10 Drops of Frankincense in hot bath before bed.
b. Add 3 drops of Lavender to organic skin cream and massage on soles of feet, behind knees, armpits, along sternum of chest, and front neck muscles up to the scalp before bed. Here is Why: Essential oils (of high quality only) are extremely powerful in our systems. They are able to completely alter the chemical processes in the Healthy Body, and they are an excellent way to relax, while wiring your Healthy Body for an optimal night’s sleep! With just a few small, and very enjoyable changes to your lifestyle, you will fall asleep like never before, sleep more soundly, and wake more refreshed than you’d ever thought possible.