Insomnia can deprive us of the joy of the day by creating anything from a fuzzy brain, to an agitated nervous system, to lousy digestion, to a compromised immune system. How do we get a good night’s sleep when our minds are on overdrive, and our muscles are bound up? One reason for insomnia can be that we haven’t used our legs enough during the day; when your legs are restless, it is difficult for your body to relax. If you can’t get off the “go” mode, sleep may be illusive—after all, for incessant worriers, what better time to worry than when you should be sleeping?
We love our veterans and thank them for their service. Not all veterans served in a war, but those who did—whether they saw action in World War II, the Vietnam War, Iraq or Afghanistan—changed. It’s no secret that many of our military still suffer from the invisible, psychological scars of war after being deployed. Many also return home with physical challenges. All have been altered in some way. And they need help.
It feels like with every passing year, the holiday craziness creeps up a little faster. While I love the true spirit of the holidays — time with family, generosity, celebration — I do find that the stress of keeping up with everything makes for some sleepless nights.
Apparently I’m not alone. Many people say that they have trouble calming their minds at night as the year dips into winter and the holiday festivities begin. Some people even resort to sleeping pills to get through until the New Year.
Fortunately, I have found that meditation works so much better than sleeping pills — and there are no troublesome side effects to worry about. The following meditation techniques are favorites of mine, and they work wonders to help me slip gently into sleep at night.
For both of these techniques, start by getting comfortable in your bed. Lie on your back with your arms resting lightly at your sides.
Almost everyone has spells of insomnia, but some have more trouble with it than others. If finding the way to a good night’s sleep is a quest, here are a few ideas you may not have tried.
Coffee: Is it good or bad for us? You might get media whiplash trying to figure that out. The truth is, I find this subject to be as confusing as you probably do.
After all, the media certainly doesn’t help clarify whether America’s favorite morning beverage is going to land you in the doc’s office or set you free with a clean bill of health. It’s no wonder so many of you shrug your shoulders in utter confusion as you refill your morning mug and get on with your day!
I know all about this adoration of coffee. I, too, was smitten and enamored with Coffea Arabica. We had our courtship during the 1990s, when I worked more than 80 hours in the emergency room and saw 30 to 40 patients a day.
I traded sleep for espresso, authentic energy for Haagen Daz coffee ice cream and normal circadian rhythms for high-speed, caffeinated adrenaline rushes.
But then, my body began to communicate to me what I had been attempting to ignore — that I needed to slow down and let the natural systems assume their proper course. You can read more about how I successfully turned my health around here.
As I began to tune into my body and provide it with what it really wanted — fresh, whole, real, unprocessed foods; sleep; relaxation; and the time to enjoy the life I had created for myself and my family — I was able to break up with coffee and make up with my health.
You can too, and I’m going to tell you how. But first, let’s discuss what makes coffee such a hot topic widely disputed in today’s health circles.
Whenever my friend Shannon can’t sleep because too many thoughts are barreling through her mind, she calls it “riding the A train.” She’ll text me at 3 a.m., “I’m on the A train again.” Of course, I get the message because I’m awake, too. My type A personality and business responsibilities are battling it out with my dire need for some mental stillness and rest.
Fortunately, I have a snooze-inducing ally in yoga, and when I get up and do the following sequence, miracles happen. In about 10 minutes, I’m back in bed, shifted toward sleep in a natural, easy way that no pill can provide.
Tossing and turning when you should be snoozing? You aren’t alone. More than twenty million Americans suffer from a lack of sleep. In fact, insomnia, defined simply as a “difficulty falling or staying asleep,” is one of the fastest growing epidemics in our society.
Perhaps you’ve heard the claims from your neighbor, “yoga cured my insomnia.” Or maybe your co-worker boasts, “I practice three times a week and my back pain is gone.” It’s possible that your 11-year-old daughter squeals with delight because she can now touch her toes and no longer gets “homework headaches.”
In this post: 3 sleeping positions that hurt! … Try yogic breathing to help you sleep better … 3 ways to sleep more comfortably on your side
Insomnia isn’t a four-letter word, but it ought to be. Lying awake at night is no fun, but everyone’s doing it: A survey by the National Sleep Foundation estimates that 58 percent of American adults experience insomnia at least a couple nights a week. Good ol’ yoga to the rescue once again! Selected with doctors at Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine program, the three yoga poses guided in the video clips below will calm your mind, release muscle tension and help you sleep like a baby.