First published by elephantjournal.com
Sleep is that rejuvenating repose in which we spend 30 percent of our lives. Our body uses the sleep cycle to repair itself. Still, for many, sleep is elusive. Here’s a few tips for natural, deep, dreamy sleep.
Feng shui your bedroom to improve the energy. Blue is a calming color for sleep. Keep your bedroom space sacred: don’t use it as a place to do homework, business or have arguments.
Calcium and magnesium are calming, and found in green leafy vegetables, almonds, figs and sea vegetables. Caffeine or food within three hours of bed stimulates. Be active during the day. Naps are healing when needed, but longer than 20 minutes can interfere with nocturnal rest. Take a walk after dinner.
Many prescriptions can interfere with sleep including antibiotics, steroids, decongestants, cold remedies, appetite suppressants, contraceptives and thyroid medications. Sugar (the legal drug for kids) doesn’t help either. It can be wise to stop drinking anything several hours before bed, as waking to urinate can disrupt sleep.
Electro-magnetic pollution close to the body can be stimulating—keep all electrics (outlets, electric alarm clocks, your cell phone) at least six feet away from your bed. Light is a stimulant—if a light shines into your bedroom at night, consider getting heavier curtains (lights on clocks, DVD players, phones and computers can encourage wakefulness).
If your mind is active at bedtime, write down goals, thoughts and things to do so you can forget about those things until tomorrow. Laying out clothes and even packing a lunch after dinner can help nocturnal serenity-as can relaxing in a bath with seven drops of lavender essential oil.
Avoid mental activity before bed (action-packed TV or page-turning novels). Making love before sleep is a great way to promote deep rest. Earplugs or a sound machine that makes white noise or ocean waves can also help. If sleeping with pets is disturbing, get a doggie bed. If sleeping with a partner is disturbing, try a bigger bed (or, yes, the couch).
Herbs have long been used in sleeping potions and are available as tea, tincture tabs or caps. Chamomile is a nerve restorative that calms anxiety and stress. Hops contain lupulin-a strong, safe, reliable sedative. Passionflower relaxes the mind and slows the breakdown of serotonin and norepinephrine, allowing one to attain a more peaceful state of consciousness. Skullcap stimulates the brain to produce more endorphins. Stronger herbs include valerian, which calms anxiety and relaxes muscles. Kava kava is a tropical tribal remedy for insomnia and nervousness. Be aware that large doses of any of the above herbs can make one feel too relaxed (don’t drive after taking them).
Get comfortable in a good bed and take eight breaths while lying fl at on your back. Then take 16 deep breaths lying on your right side. Last, take 32 breaths while on your left side. Most people fall asleep before completing this.
If you lie awake for more than a half hour, get up and write a letter or read something that is not too action packed. Should you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t snack. Sweet dreams!