At least once a week and sometimes multiple times a week, I find myself discussing sleep, or lack thereof, with a client. It seems we go through phases in our lives, as kids sleeping usually comes easy, teenagers can’t get enough, usually in our 20’s we do ok and then wham, we find ourselves staring at the clock as we try to get to sleep or back to sleep in the middle of the night.
You may have read articles that remind us that shutting down our electronic devices at least an hour before bed can help us sleep better. Keeping the bedroom free of distractions, dark and cool also have been known to help. Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol can also help as well as regular exercise and not eating close to bedtime. What if you’ve tried all those suggestions and still struggle with sleep? I’ve recently come across, and tried a few novel approaches to sleep I thought I would share. They are fairly simple and have been effective for many.
The first is a breathing exercise called the 4-7-8 method. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests this breathing pattern to help you relax. This is not limited to sleep, in fact, he recommends you practice it twice a day and then over the course of time it will help you not only relax and fall asleep but can be used to deal with anxiety, food cravings or general life tension. This is how you do it: Inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven then exhale for a count of eight. Do this a few times over until you feel your body relax or, you stop counting and fall asleep!
The next suggestion seems completely counterintuitive, but, seems to really work. If you are nervous or anxious, try submerging your face in a bowl of ice cold water. It seems that when we shock our nervous system this way it triggers a response called the Mammalian Dive Reflex which essentially lowers our blood pressure and heart rate. Then, when our BP and HR are lower, we are relaxed and ready to sleep. I’ve not personally tried this method but, I have found that if I’m awake in the middle of the night and nothing else seems to work, I get up, stand on cold tile or in front of a fan or open window, then crawl back into my nice warm bed. Nine times out of ten, I’m back to sleep in just a few minutes.
I’ve also found that using a sleep noise generator greatly reduces the amount of times I wake up at night. Though at times I sleep like I’m in a coma it appears at other times the slightest noise will wake me up. The sleep noise generator gives a constant level of white noise so the other little noises don’t get noticed. I use a white noise app but, if you choose this route make sure that your phone or tablet is far away from your bed to reduce EMR exposure or go the really safe route and pick up a white noise appliance.
For more information on these suggestions plus a few others, go to this Huffington Post Article.
What methods help you to fall asleep or go back to sleep? Leave your comments below, perhaps your method could help someone else.
Make today a healthy and happy day!