While the mind is capable of solving all sorts of problems we encounter day to day, it is also capable of running amuck, interfering with restorative sleep. So if you’re keen on spending the wee hours in dreamland, we’ve got some tiring ideas for you.
Put Your Favorite Adaptogen to Work
According to research, adaptogenic supplements and foods are fantastic ways to tame and quiet the mind. The suggestion is that adaptogens (stress-reducing plants) are beneficial to the body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the main stress response center. These three glands regulate stress, and adaptogens help balance your body’s production of cortisol, a hormone that is created due to stress.
Some of the leading adaptogenic plants known to Ayurveda are Tulsi, Turmeric, Ashwagandha, and Gotu Kola. A healthful supply of these adaptogens can be found in ORGANIC INDIA’s Peaceful Sleep supplement, which is an ideal blend of herbs that support healthy sleep cycles without sedating you. The Tulsi content supports a healthy response to emotional, physical, and environmental stress; Ashwagandha allows relaxation of the body and mind; and Gotu Kola promotes a healthy nervous system. Turmeric has been shown to play a role in managing inflammation conditions, allaying anxiety, and immune system response.
Breathing exercises are ancient practices. Cross-culturally, breath is equated with vitality; and breathing fully is something we rarely do in our hectic world. For this reason, it’s helpful to practice techniques for filling your lungs with air that relaxes, detoxes, and enlivens your body and all of its trillions of cells. Arlin Cuncic, author of 7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety, writes that breathing exercises help reduce stress and anxiety, and help you to relax when it’s time to go to sleep. There are many forms of breathing you can practice, including ones that incorporate visualization, mantras, and bit-by-bit mental attention on relaxing each part of the body.
One of the oldest systems of breathing is Pranayama, well-known to yogis down through the ages. Natural healthcare consultant and writer Devi Gajendran, Tamil Nadu, India, explains that Pranayama requires the mind to concentrate on the very process of breathing, and embodied within this focus is relaxation and healing. Pranayama not only strengthens, protects and energizes the various systems of the body, but may also lead to the realization of your inner self. Breathing is a biological process, but when you breathe with total awareness and pay attention to how the breath flows and is incorporated into your body, something wonderful happens. Your breathing changes from an unconscious default process into one that both consciously and unconsciously invites life-sustaining prana into the body.
Many people find that when their bodies are tired, sleeping comes much easier. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s all too common to spend countless hours sitting in front of a computer or television, where it’s exceedingly convenient to neglect the needs of our bodies.But the body has to move to be healthy; that’s how it’s designed.
Scientists at Northwestern University say millions of adults suffering from insomnia are likely to improve their quality of sleep and mood with regular aerobic exercise. Cardio-stimulating exercise may be enough to change your status from a poor to a good sleeper. Some of the side benefits include fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness in the daytime.
Yoga is great for promoting good sleep, too. Instructor Jeanie Manchester explains that the combination of breath and movement activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps counteract stress. There are also yoga practices you can do before bedtime to help combat insomnia. Because yoga nourishes both mind and body, a gentle pre-bedtime routine has the ability to relax the muscles, calm the mind, encourage deep breathing, and release tension throughout the body.
A common reason for poor sleep is body pain, inflammation, and discomfort. If your body is sore or out of alignment, regular chiropractic adjustments, yoga, massages, stretching, and Taiqi may be something to look into. Even a hot bath before bedtime can often do the trick.
Darken Your Room
Researchers reporting to the National Institutes of Health show that a dark room helps you get a better night’s sleep, chiefly because it allows the hormone melatonin to do its job.The brain produces melatonin as a response to darkness, and helps with the timing of circadian rhythms necessary for sleeping soundly. Exposure to light after dark — even just the light of a cellphone — can block melatonin production.
The Power of Aroma
Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, teaches people how to sleep soundly. Field, who specializes in pediatrics, has achieved some impressively relaxing results after studying the effects of lavender-oil baths on mothers and their infants. The mothers emerged more relaxed, and smiled and touched their infants more during the bath, and the newborns cried less and spent more time in deep sleep afterward. Cortisol levels of everyone in the group significantly decreased, and Field’s findings support a body of research showing the relaxing and sleep-inducing properties of lavender aroma.
Other essential oils reported to aid sleep include orange, valerian root, roman chamomile, sandalwood, bergamot, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, frankincense, sweet marjoram, and jasmine. Oils can be sedative, anxiolytic, anti-depressive, soothing, warming, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. A little experimentation may be all you need to find what works best for you.
In the United States, more than 40 million people suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and another 20 million complain of acute sleep problems. Actual numbers are sure to be higher because not everyone reports the trouble they have falling, and staying, asleep. And the causes for poor, nonexistent, sporadic, or restless sleep are all over the board. A busy mind is one of the biggest obstacles to good sleep, which is why relaxation, stress-reduction, breathing, meditation, physical exercise, and soothing cups of tea may be the best places to start.