Insomnia Keeping You Up and Getting You Down?

For some, there is nothing worse than lying in a bed, awake and unable to sleep. While aggravating in the moment, a pervasive lack of sleep can lead to issues beyond just sleepiness and a lack of energy, a foggy brain, and an inability to cope with stress effectively. Ongoing sleep deprivation can also lead to lowered immunity, depression, weight gain, high blood pressure, and an increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Yikes!

Maybe you or someone you know is having difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. Or both. What causes it, and what can be done about it? Let’s look at a brief overview of both situations.

First, let’s state the obvious culprits for poor sleep:

1.  Caffeine. Reduce and/or eliminate it from your diet. Watch out for sneaky sources, outside of your regular cups o’ joe: soda, tea, hot chocolate…even plain old chocolate. You may think that you need these to keep your energy up during the day if you are not sleeping, but caffeine isn’t a “real” source of energy. It will actually rob your energy reserves and create a vicious cycle of fatigue for you.

2. Eating too close to bedtime.It’s best not to eat within several hours of bedtime – your body will be focused on digestion, rather than sleep.

3. Alcohol. It doesn’t help anyone’s sleep, but it is particularly detrimental to those who have difficulty waking up in the middle of the night.

Many of the tips in the following two sections are similar, so take note of the particular issue you are having.

If you have difficulty falling asleep at night…

Many find it hard to “turn off” their brains at night, and the thoughts keep coming and coming, making falling asleep seem like a faraway dream. The trick is to calm down your body and your mind so you are in state where falling asleep comes naturally.

1. Turn off the television and the computer 1 hour before bed. Staring into these light sources will stimulate your brain and trick it into believing that it’s daylight, and time to be awake. Remember when you used to dim the lights while getting the kids ready for bed? There’s a reason it helps to settle them down…

2. Get to bed so that you can fall asleep by 10:00 pm. Our natural biorhythms want to fall asleep before 10:00, because it is the “heaviest” part of the day. You will be more likely to sleep if you adjust your schedule to take advantage of this fact. Night owl? Need the time to get things done?  Slowly move your bedtime back in increments of 10-15 minutes until you’re there. Maybe it will take a few weeks. Eventually, you will gain your time back in the early morning, and/or by being more productive with a mind that’s clear and efficient.

3. Give yourself a warm-oil massage called “Abhyanga” with sesame oil and take a warm shower before bed – or at least massage your feet. It’s calming to the nervous system (and great for the immune system, too!) Plus, your skin will be gorgeous, and you won’t have to buy moisturizer anymore. I can instruct you how to do this. The warm shower will also make you drowsy, because your body temperature will drop from it.

4. That old wive’s tale of warm milk isn’t a tale at all – it really works! Take ¾ c milk preferably raw, or whole, organic)  with a little nutmeg and cardamom. Bring to a boil, let it cool slightly, and skim off the top. It may take a night or two to get used to it, but it will become a treat.

5. Use aromatherapy, putting a few drops of oil in a saucer or warm water at the bedside – Rose (especially Geranium rose) is  best for you.

6. Learn to meditate. Meditation reduces stress and calms the nervous system.

If you wake up in the middle of the night:

1. There are some surprising food choices that affect the ability to sleep through the night, besides just alcohol and caffeine:

Soy is a big offender here – it is clogging to the liver, and makes your body work harder, creating   heat. It’s this internal heat in your body (whether you feel it or not) that will wake you up between 2:00 – 4:00 am. It’s the lightest time of the day in your biorhythms, and the excess heat will cause you to wake.

Nighshades are another offender. Think, eggplant, peppers (of all kinds), tomatoes (especially tomato paste and tomato sauce) and potatoes. They create a reaction in your body that, if you are susceptible, will cause those early morning awakenings.

Pungent food and spices. Again, these foods may be too heating for you: Garlic, onion, red pepper, black pepper, ginger.

I know, I know, you thought you were eating healthy. Well, these are ‘healthy” foods – but they aren’t helping you to function optimally, so you may want to forgo them for awhile, and slowly re-introduce some of them back into your diet in the future. I’ve had success with clients gaining sleep just by modifying their food choices.

2. Again, get to bed so that you can fall asleep by 10:00 pm. Our natural biorhythms want to fall asleep before 10:00, because it is the “heaviest” part of the day. You will be more likely to sleep if you adjust your schedule to take advantage of this fact. Slowly move your bedtime back in increments of 10-15 minutes until you’re there. It may take a few weeks,a nd that’s ok.

3.Give yourself a warm-oil massage called “Abhyanga” with sunflower or coconut oil, or even with ghee and take a warm shower before bed – or at least massage your feet. It’s calming to the nervous system (and great for the immune system, too!) Plus, your skin will be gorgeous, and you won’t have to buy moisturizer anymore. I can instruct you how to do this. The warm shower will also make you drowsy, because your body temperature will drop from it.

4. That old wive’s tale of warm milk isn’t a tale at all – it really works! Take ¾ c milk preferably raw, or whole, organic)  and add a little nutmeg and cardamom. Bring to a boil, let it cool slightly, and skim off the top. It may take a night or two to get used to it, but it will become a treat.

5. Use aromatherapy, putting a few drops of oil in a saucer or warm water at the bedside – Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang and Lavender are the best choices for you.

6. Learn to do long, deep breathing or alternate nostril breathing. Particularly beneficial to do before bed, but also to incorporate throughout the day. Most people, when stressed, breath with a shallow breath. Focusing on deep breathing will not only relax you and bring much-needed oxygen throughout your body, but it will also massage your internal organs and release some of that trapped heat.

7. Learn to meditate. Meditation reduces stress and calms the nervous system.

Try these tips to see if you can get some more zzzz’s – your health will thank you : )

Of course, there are times when people need additional support. Why not try one of my guided meditations or and energy healing program to resolve your insomnia?

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