Do You Have Trouble Sleeping?
6 Steps for Better Sleep
Not everyone has a restful sleep. In fact, each night millions of people in the U.S. struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep.
In fact, each night millions of people in the U.S. struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. For 30 to 35% this is only a brief problem. But for about 10%, insomnia can become a severe, ongoing struggle.
Restful sleep gives us a substantial cognitive boost as it helps our cells repair or regenerate themselves, and physiological benefits—such as the release of growth hormone and other hormones (including those that regulate appetite and satiety).
Insomnia can have a negative impact on your day to day operations, when it becomes long term increasing your risk of depression, weight gain and high even high blood pressure. It also can lower your quality of life. Common symptoms of insomnia include:
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Poor memory
- Mood disturbance
- Daytime sleepiness
- Low motivation or energy
- Increased errors or accidents
What causes insomnia?
Most agree that stress is the underlying cause of most sleep issues. Stress with the inability to relax and let go of tension in our body, mind and soul. This is a very broad topic because hormonal changes as well as certain medical conditions can also cause this; however, the underlying cause of all of this is inability to relax into being.
Let’s turn to some practices that I have used with students and clients to help with sleep.
Take a warm shower before bed.
Warming your body up with a hot shower or bath an hour or less before bed seems to benefit sleep. “Showers or baths can be very relaxing and helps rid excess tension from not only the body but them ind also. Creating a night time routine around the same time, you’ll get some value. Like with meditation, the mind prepares the body with routine.
Recommended by the National Sleep Foundation as a way to fall asleep fast, progressive muscle relaxation involves slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle in your body to help your body relax. A yoga teacher will use what is called the squeeze/release practice. It is done from the head to the toes where you squeeze your muscles, hold for 3-5 seconds, then release. We use this practice in our meditation training live events. The benefits are tremendous.
Eat dinner 3 or more hours prior to sleep time.
Stop eating at least 3 hours prior to sleep time. When you practice the overnight fast, you are not only helping your body rid itself of toxins, but you are allowing the body to engage in restful sleep.
Turn off the Blue Light.
When it comes to sleep, the less blue light you expose yourself to in the hours before bedtime, the better. Light of any kind can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, but blue light waves do so more powerfully, thereby shifting sleep-friendly circadian rhythms. Besides electronic devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones, the biggest blue-light offenders in your home are likely fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights, which many people use because of their energy efficiency and powerful light.
Wash your feet with warm water before going to bed.
I have observed with myself, that washing my feet with warm water relaxes my mind and improves sleep onset. From a scientific point of view, when we shift blood flow from our core to our extremities our body cools down, working in concert with melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland and serves as a messenger that announces bedtime to our brains. Darkness stimulates its release into the bloodstream; light inhibits it.
Use the “8-16-32” sleep practice.
This breathing technique is purported to help you fall asleep perhaps even before finishing the exercise. The method is said to relax you by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream, slowing your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from the lungs. According to yoga therapists, here’s how you do it:
- Start by laying on your right side for 8 breaths.
- Roll onto your back for 16 breaths.
- Turn onto your left side for 32 breaths.
As always, you may need to check with your health care provider in cases where needed.