In the clinic I see people all the time who have sleep problems and I can tell you, without a doubt, that lack of restful sleep is a virtual epidemic. No matter what the health issue – whether it’s pain, anxiety, digestive problems or really ANYTHING else – it’s going to be worse without healthy sleep.
In fact, I’ve seen SO MANY people where all we did was help them sleep better and their health issues improved by 50% or more!
One problem is that most of the ‘over the counter’ remedies – the supplements and sleep-aids – either end up causing some form of dependence or make you feel drowsy when you wake up. So you either avoid them altogether OR use them and still don’t feel any better.
GOOD NEWS. There are ways to get a more restful sleep without these things. And I’m going to share them with you right now. I’ve used these ‘tricks’ myself with great results, so I’m sure they will help you too…
- Don’t switch on the bathroom light! Picture the scene – you’re feeling sleepy and ready to go to bed so you go to the bathroom to clean your teeth. You get into bed and ‘PING’ your brain wakes up. Where’s the brightest light in the house? The bathroom. What’s that bright white light telling your brain? “Hey! It’s morning and time to wake up!” So, I find it best to use the light from the landing or from another room if you can. You don’t really need to see that much whilst you’re cleaning your teeth anyway, right? And you won’t fool your brain into thinking it’s morning, so it will still be in sleepy mode as you get into bed.
- Sleep in your birthday suit – or as close to it as you feel comfortable. Your body needs to be able to self-regulate temperature and feel unrestricted in movement. Too many nightclothes hinder temperature regulation and can twist around your limbs restricting your movement as you sleep. This is particularly true when the weather is as warm as it is just now. I find that short pyjamas (or knickers and a vest top) work really well, plus just a light cover on the bed so that you can pull it up over your shoulders when you feel the need.
- Massage your neck a little. Just behind your ears – a gentle rub up and down each side with your fingers. During the day, many of us build up tension in our necks without even realising that it’s there. This gentle massage really helps to ease that tension but it also has value added benefits. Just level with the bottom of the ear, and about midway between the ear and the bony bit at the base of the skull is a point called AN MIAN. This translates as ‘Calm & Peaceful Sleep’. A little bit of massage with gentle pressure on that point will help to – well the clue is really all in the name.
- Count your breathing to 4,7,8. Since I discovered this technique I have suggested it to many of my patients. The feedback I’ve received from them is that it works a treat. And, having used it myself too, I can confirm this. All you need to to is to focus on your breathing and count as you breathe. Breathe in to the count of 4. Hold it for the count of 7. Breathe out to the count of 8. The beneficial effects of doing this are twofold – it gives your mind something to focus on and calms the ‘monkey chattering’, plus it slows the heart rate down ready for sleep. Sometimes you need to keep going with this for what feels like ‘ages’, but do keep going because the next thing you know is you’re waking up in the morning! This trick works equally well whether you’re just getting into bed, or if you’ve woken in the middle of the night.