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  • Tracy

(New) Tips for Better Sleep

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Judging by the number of ads, blog posts, marketing emails, social media posts, and commercials I see on the subject daily, a good night’s sleep is not only highly sought after, but also widely elusive. The problem with all these posts, emails, ads, etc., is that they say pretty much the same things. We’ve all read the same advice repeatedly:

  • No caffeine after noon

  • Shut down your electronics an hour before bed

  • Take a bath

  • Try diffusing lavender essential oil

These suggestions are common because they can help.

But, what if they don’t?

Many people still struggle to get a good night’s sleep even when following the solid suggestions above. A good night’s sleep contributes to our physical and mental health in many ways:

  • Improves immune system function

  • Reduces stress and stress hormones

  • Reduces hunger and cravings

  • Reduces blood pressure

We all have experienced the brain fog and changes in temperament that come with lack of sleep. Studies show that lack of sleep does more than just put us in a bad mood. It increases our risk for illness, weight gain, and heart disease.

Sleep is a critical component of our overall health, and it is worth a little (or a lot) of extra effort to make sure we get the sleep we need. The solutions offered above are a great place to start, but if your sleep trouble is chronic, you might need solutions that go deeper. Different healing modalities within the world of natural wellness offer a variety of ways to approach better sleep. Let’s examine a few!

Ayurveda: The simplest way to understand sleep disruption from an Ayurvedic perspective is to view it as an energetic imbalance. Ongoing problems falling to sleep or staying asleep can be a result of an ongoing imbalance in our energy. While Ayurveda is a complex system that takes an individual’s personal constitution into account, there are some general recommendations that are appropriate for anyone.

  • Have a regular daily routine. Wake at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each day, ideally with the rising and setting sun. It is best to go to bed before 10 p.m., when the fiery energies of pitta become dominant.

Try this herbal blend from Banyan Botanicals to clear excess summer pitta.

  • Have a bedtime routine or ritual. Following a sequence of events or engaging in a specific activity that is only done at bedtime signals to your brain that bedtime is coming. Some ideas: a brief period of meditation, a relaxing restorative or yin yoga posture, a few minutes of a grounding pranayama and/or massaging your feet or hands with oil.

  • Make lunch your biggest meal and eat dinner two to three hours prior to bedtime.

  • Spend time outdoors. Being outdoors helps align our circadian rhythms with the natural cycles of day and night.

An Ayurvedic counselor can give you detailed and personalized guidance, including recommending herbs and supplements, to guide you towards balance – and better sleep.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, like Ayurveda, views sleep disturbances as imbalances in our energy, or qi. The qi flows through energy meridians in the body, half of which are yang, the other half yin. During the nighttime hours, the calming and cooling yin energies should be dominant. If the energies of yin and yang are out of balance, yang may be too active in the evening, keeping us awake. To balance yin and yang energies:

  • Avoid yang foods (alcohol, caffeine, sweet, pungent, and spicy) and favor yin foods (often green or pale-colored with high water content. Examples are melon, cucumber, tofu, bananas.

  • Massage the anmian points (translation: peaceful sleep). The anmian points are located behind the ears. Slide your fingers back from behind the ears. You will feel a small depression on each side near the mastoid process. Massage these points in a small circle 100 times.

  • Draw qi away from the brain. Massage your feet or soak them in warm water.

  • Wake at the same time each morning and go to bed at the same time each night, ideally with the rising and setting sun.

  • Meditate before bed to clear the mind.

An Acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner can give you detailed and personalized guidance, including recommending herbs and supplements, and can help balance your yin and yang energies with the use of acupuncture and other healing modalities.

Herbs: There are a variety of herbs that may help calm the body and/or the mind. Herbs may be taken as tea, tinctures, or capsules. An herbalist can help you determine which ones are most appropriate for you and the best delivery method. Some suggestions are:

Yoga: A regular yoga practice can help promote better sleep on many levels. It provides regular physical activity, which has been shown to help people fall asleep more quickly. It reduces stress and the effects of stress, which can keep us up at night. In addition, there are specific poses and breath techniques that can help us feel calmer. When done in the evening, they can help ease us into sleep.

  • Poses

• Pranayama (breathwork)

3-Part Breath: This practice uses the breath to bring us into our bodies. It focuses and calms the mind; deepens the breath; relaxes the diaphragm, and stimulates the vagus nerve, thereby activating the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system

Chandra Bhedana: Chandra means moon. Bhedana means piercing. Whereas the three-part breath works on the physical body and nervous system, Chandra Bhedana works in the energy body by activating the feminine energies associated with the moon – quiet, calm, still.

There are as many ways to improve our sleep as there are causes for lack of it. Try these tips and see which ones work for you. If sleep still eludes you, please consult a medical professional.

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