Ditch the sleeping aids and use your own body's rhythms to put your mind to rest and give your body deep restorative sleep.
In a materialistic and results driven society, we tend to praise over activity. Sayings like "burning the candle at both ends," are considered badges of merit when in fact sleep deprivation robs your body of, not only precious biological resources, but also spiritual fuel.
Hyper wakefulness or insomnia can lead to serious social, cognitive and physical ills.
When you've had a good, deep sleep, your social, cognitive skills and physical health are at their peak. You have better coping skills, are less prone to making mistakes or getting into an accident. And, a good night's sleep keeps your memory and mental functioning and libido functioning properly and healthily.
Deep sleep also helps regulate your blood sugar, lowers your blood pressure and gives you the energy you need to keep your body's systems strong and balanced.
Deep sleep is a great anti-aging solution for your skin too, as it allows your cells to replenish and rejuvenate. And, getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining healthy weight as it regulates the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to cause weight gain.
But probably one of the best reasons you need to get back to sleep is, your life depends on dreamtime and the R.E.M. state that puts you there.
In the R.E.M. stage your brain has access to and processes images and experiences from the day that it's stored below your conscious awareness. And, deep sleep gives you courage. That's right. What can be seen as hopeless and overwhelming when we are over tired, stressed out and depleted of energy can almost always be cured with a good night's sleep. Sleep is the reset button that restores both perspective and the energy to tackle life's problems.
When we're too busy with the logistics and details of daily functioning and survival—getting to the grocery store or a business meeting—sleep time allows us uninterrupted communication and audience with all the symbols and messages our brain has absorbed from the day. It is during deep sleep when our best creative ideas arise or our trickiest problems get worked out.
Here are Nine Great Ways to Get More (Deep) Sleep:
- Meditate with Nature - A good nature meditation is like turning off the light switch in your mind. Listening to the clearing sounds of running water, at the beginning of your day or before you head to bed, will help your brain to quiet the chatter that can keep you from falling asleep.
- Get Some Laughs - Laughter lightens your load in so many way. It alleviates stress, reduces cortisol and epinephrine levels and boosts your immune system. And, deep, side-aching belly laughs relax your diaphragm and give you a deep breathing workout without even trying, both of which are very relaxing!
- Pet an Animal - Cuddling with pets floods us with oxytocin, endorphins, and other healing hormones that trigger your body’s self-healing mechanisms. This is why service animals and other types of pet therapy can be so beneficial to both body and mind. If you can't snuggle up with your favorite feline or other cuddle critter, spending just ten minutes a day in the company of an animal can do the trick.
- Do a Liver Cleanse - When your liver is overloaded from too much fatty food, alcohol, medications, pollutants or metabolic waste, it will wake you up at the oddest hours. 4:00 a.m., according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is the "liver" hour. Because, generally, we've eaten around 6:00pm the previous evening and it takes that long for your liver to start processing what we've ingested. Clear your liver and you'll clear the way for a long night's sleep. One of the easiest and most effective ways to flush toxins from your liver on a daily basis is to drink a glass of water with a half lemon squeezed into it upon waking.
- Do Yoga or Qigong - Taking an easy, relaxing class that includes breathing and stretching, during any part of your day can help reset your body clock to wind down when it comes time for bed. Qigong helps rebalance your body's energies or Water Up, Fire Down elements and can help you get better sleep.
- Join a Group - Social isolation is one of the key factors in the chronic stress and worry that keeps most people awake at night. Joining a group provides that sense of belonging and purpose every person needs to stay healthy.
- Give Yourself a Massage - The Ankle Massager and Wooden Pillow are simple wooden props that have great health benefits. Used to support, realign and massage your acupressure points, they can improve your posture, work out the kinks in tired or tense muscles, adjust your spine, open your meridians and increase both your blood and Qi circulation. If you don't have someone to rub your back and sing you to sleep, give yourself a soothing, healthful massage with these simple tools.
- Slow Down with the Breath - Breathing is fundamental but when we learn to focus on how we are breathing it can be a wonderful way to induce sleep. Slow, long breaths can push away the debris of the day and restore equilibrium to your body.
- Use Natural Supplements - Herbs and foods such as warm milk, pumpkin seeds and other foods that contain tryptophan can naturally induce sleep. Lemon balm, valerian root, hops and passionflower are also excellent herbs for sleep. They are used in many herbal sleep formulas and have no side effects.
The next time you're wide awake in the middle of the night, rest assured that you can tackle the next day with one or several of these methods and have your body back in sync in no time.
This is not intended as medical advice. Consult your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any new dietary or exercise regimen.