Sleep is one of the three pillars of life in Ayurveda. In fact getting proper sleep is so important that there have been an influx of commercials on television promoting sleep aids and prescription sleep medication. More and more people are sleeping less due to modern technology that keeps us connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With all that stimulation who has time to focus on getting a good night’s rest, after all there is just so much to do.
The above sentence is a common statement that is repeated more often than not. In fact people are sleeping 10% less than they were ten years ago and are sleeping 17% less than they slept in the eighties. Over the course of a 100 year life span that is 17 years less a person is sleeping now than they slept 30 years ago.
After a busy day of multitasking even the most serene among us can find it difficult to get a good night’s rest. According to theNationalCenterfor Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, some 30% to 40% of adults suffer symptoms of insomnia within a given year.
Sleep follows a normal health pattern and brings refreshment. Deep sleep is essential for renewing both body and mind and restoring our vital energy. Without proper sleep, we will not have the proper energy to function in life. The effect of sleep is like that of diet, to provide nourishment. Just as we require proper food, rest of the body and mind through sleep is also essential. Happiness and misery, obesity and leanness, strength and weakness, sexual vigor and impotence, consciousness and loss of sensory acuity, life and death all depend upon proper sleep.
If you occasionally suffer from sleeplessness or difficulty sleeping, keep reading for some simple strategies.
- Say Goodnight. Create a bedtime ritual to signal to your body and mind that all activity is done for the day and it’s time for rest. Any food sensory stimulation, or even thought you take in must be digested and absorbed before you will be free to rest. Finish eating two hours prior to bedtime, and turn off the television or put aside your cell phone and laptop at least half an hour before retiring.
- Show Your Body Appreciation. When you come to bed, take a moment to notice your hands, your feet, and the rest of your body. Close your eyes and mentally shower your entire body with love and appreciation for a few seconds. This is the precious container that holds you and allows you to experience the world. Imagine every cell is filled with love.
- Stretch and yawn. Rest on your back and contract and stretch your muscles from head to toe. Flex your feet, spread your toes and then curl them under three times. Stretch out one foot and reach the opposite arm overhead. Gently squeeze and release the leg and arm muscles three times. Change sides. Hug yourself and shrug your shoulders toward each other. Hold for three or four seconds and release. Change the cross of your arms and repeat. Rest the base of your palms above your eyebrows and place your thumbs on your temples. Slide your fingertips along your hairline and circle the thumbs lightly on your temples. Yawn three times.
- Rest in love. Either in bed or on your yoga mat come into Child’s pose with your knees wide apart and forehead resting on your hands. Imagine a blanket made of infinite love covering you. Let you hand relax onto your hands. Tell your skin, muscles, and organs that they are fee from the demands of multitasking and being on constant alert. Settle into this cocoon and rest for at least a minute.
- Let yourself melt. Lie flat on your belly, resting on your forehead on your hands. Feel your navel expand toward the floor as you inhale and pull back as you exhale. With each exhalation, imagine releasing tension from your body. Do this for 10 breaths. Roll slowly onto your back. Rest your fingers on your belly, feeling it rise and fall as you take 12 more breaths. With each exhalation, let yourself melt and be absorbed into radiant love. Then curl into a fetal position on your right side and rest. You may even drift off to sleep.
Tonight when you get into bed to go to sleep remember that sleep is just as important to your body as nourishment. Without sleep your body can not function properly, so curl up in your warm and comfy bed, close your eyes take in some slow long deep breaths and fall off into slumberland knowing that “Sleep Does A Body Good.”
Rochele M. Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS