by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~

Here are proven tips and tricks for getting better sleep now!

1. Sleep. That wonderful but sometimes elusive state of bliss and rejuvenation! I think it is most important to go to sleep with a “quiet mind”. Sometimes this is difficult to do. We all have trouble now and then. Sometimes, we are even afraid of knowing that we have to go to sleep.

2. Fear can be an underlining problem in many cases. There are many ways to quiet the mind. Doing 15 to 30 minutes of meditation or yoga can be very helpful. You must allow yourself to be distracted or get into your meditation or yoga and “let go” of the days thoughts…see Yoga/Meditation.

3. Try tiring yourself out during the day, so that by the time you are ready for bed you are yearning for that pillow! Try exercise during the day to exhaust the muscles and mind. The moving is good when we are depressed too! It gets the blood flowing and makes us move past many issues. Pack your day with lots to do. Errands, class, shopping…whatever you can find to keep you busy.

4. Single herbs such as Valerian root, hops, or passion flower are wonderful, natural sleep assisting herbs.
Herbal tea, half hour before bed, is wonderful for relaxing the digestive system if you are nervous or upset. Chamomile is great for this as well as Kava and Hops. Try brewing these herbs separate or even together for a wonderful prescription for sleep! See herbal remedies

5. Reading a book before bed is also good. This can direct your mind to a different place.

6. Diffusing essential oils of Lavender, Chamomile, or Clary Sage are all wonderful to induce a relaxed state and the soothing scents will calm your senses.

7. If you are taking a pain killer, be careful for many pain relievers actually have caffeine in them. Perhaps you may want to consider Willow Bark for pain.

8. Remember, we choose our thoughts, our thoughts do not choose us. Believe that this is so. To Believe is a powerful thing. The Universe supports ALL that WE CHOOSE to Believe. So do not torture your mind with troubled thoughts which will not allow you to sleep and are only destructive in the long run. See Belief Systems.

9. Block out light. To increase the quality of your sleep, research has shown that by blocking out light in your bedroom, you can improve your sleep pattern. If you can see your hand in front of your face, after the lights are off, then it is light enough to affect melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone secreted at night by the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a small organ in the brain sensitive to light levels.

10. Eat Earlier. Eat at least three hours before bedtime. The further away you eat from the time you go to sleep, the better it is for you to have a better night’s sleep.

11. Let your pets sleep outside your bedroom. Believe me, they don’t need you to fall asleep and the reverse is true. Pets can be restless and are often tossing and turning, getting up and down off the bed throughout the night, disturbing your peaceful sleep pattern.

12. Move the television outside the bedroom. This bright distraction should never be in a place made for peaceful sleep. Period.

13. Use guided imagery or visualization: According to research done in Britain, those who pictured a sunny beach, calm tranquil ocean or lush green garden have been shown to fall asleep 20 minutes faster then those who counted sheep.

14. Skip the acid foods: After eating foods such as tomatoes, citrus, and pineapple (especially in juice form) these foods will irritate the lining of the bladder causing night time spasms and pain. You can test your sensitivity to these foods by avoiding them for a week and then add one back every two days after that. The culprit will tend to cause symptoms to come back within 24 hours.

15. If you nap during the day: consider doing it about an hour after lunch and only for 15-30 minutes. You will wake up rejuvenated and it will not effect your sleeping pattern at night.

16. Caffeine: can be a real problem for some people. If that is you, have your last cup around lunch time. It can improve sleep problems by 30% in many people.

17. Keep your hands warm: According to the University of Iowa Sleep Clinic, keeping your hands warm and under the covers will help you to fall asleep faster and also help with fewer nightmares and awaking from them.

18. Choose looser pajamas: This choice alone will help the body’s core temperature lower and allow for your body heat to escape (which is a good thing), boosting melatonin production.

19. Consider taking your calcium and magnesium before bed: These two supplements should be taken in divided doses with your first dose in the morning. At night, take 800- 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 mg of magnesium, which will not only help you sleep, but will help you to avoid restless legs and cramping.

20. Give yourself a 5 minute calf massage: you will fall asleep twice as fast when you massage both calves. You can use a little massage cream and massage the calves (one at a time) using both hands, using long strokes upward towards the heart. This stimulates nerve bundles that relax the adrenals and reduce stress hormone production.

Find other ways to catch your zzz…

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