Monday, May 20, 2013

Lifestyle Changes for Better Sleep

The sun rises, the sun sets, the moon shines longer as the month progresses. These natural rhythms of light and dark regulate our body’s clock and tell us when to awaken and fall asleep.  Light  receptors in our eyes respond to the amount of light they are exposed to- then signal the brain which takes in the information and supervises production of the hormone melatonin to regulate our sleep.

Do you live in a world of light? At night where is your cell phone  and charger , computer, tv,  and remote controls? Does the light from street lamps, passing cars , large buildings and even over head planes make it’s way into  your bedroom? All that light can confuse our brains and disturb our natural tendencies to sleep easily while it’s dark.

Stress, worry and anxiety easily override  our desire for sleep even when melatonin levels are adequate - stress can make sleep seem impossible.  How restful is your sleep? Is it easy for you to fall asleep and stay asleep so that you feel rested when you awaken in the morning?

Well known suggestions  for better sleep include reducing the use of caffeine & alcohol, arranging your bedroom so that offending light sources no longer stimulate your brain, not eating too late at night, meditation and regular exercise. 

However other lifestyle changes that you may not have tried can really make a difference when it comes to permanently achieving restful sleep.

A simple yoga pose that anyone can do allows the body and mind to re-harmonize and rebalance so falling asleep seems natural and easy. Savasana (the corpse pose) involves laying down on your back with your arms stretched out to your sides. Some people may need a pillow under their head or their knees to be comfortable.  Once you lay down- quietly observe your body. You may need to adjust your body slightly to be fully at ease. Begin to breathe deeply and rhythmically  place your awareness on your feet and slowly and consciously  relax each part of your body from your feet up to your head. Most people would take about 15 minutes to do this. It is a wonderful way to detach from the day and prepare for sleep. 

Two of the best ways to relieve the tension, stress and worry that trigger insomnia are: Keeping  a gratitude journal and practicing  forgiveness on a daily basis. Acknowledging the gifts that surround you- the people and things in your life  that you truly appreciate  can permanently enhance your sense of happiness and satisfaction. This can be something as simple as jotting down 2 or 3 things that really moved you today.

Resentment, grudges, anger and judgement take up so much space in the human heart and can anchor us to the past. Being able to forgive and move on frees us to have more happiness and less worry for tomorrow. Taking a few moments to consciously let go of  grievances and resentments brings a sense of deep sweet peace.

Try these practices every night for two weeks-gratitude & forgiveness along with  Savasana will take the work load off your heart and re-balance blood pressure & breathing rate,reduce tension, anxiety and fatigue and make it much easier for you to sleep.  After two weeks you will have taught yourself  the way to  restful sleep that always brings a  clear head the next morning.

                                            “The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep”

                                                                                                W.C. Fields

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