Recently the CDC sponsored Natural Sleep Awareness Week. They reported that many of us are sleep deprived and it affects public safety, health and wellbeing. This comes as no surprise as most of us reading this probably have sleep problems.
In my book, I open a chapter about sleep as follows: Remember the sweet bedtime saying: “Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite?” Back then, we tightened up because we were on constant alert for the dreaded bed bugs, and this was our good night sendoff! Today, we still fight off bedbugs, but they have morphed into the constant chatter in our mind, hindering our ability to get a good night’s sleep or to wake up refreshed.
We try many techniques but inevitably our thoughts get in the way. How can we shut down our thoughts? The truth is that you cannot force your mind to stop, but you can tame and relax your mind, allowing for a deeper state of relaxation and much needed rest.
Here are a few simple techniques:
This Simple Bed Twist calms your nervous system, massages your internal organs which increases their blood and oxygen supply, and lengthens and twists the spine.
- Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest.
- Hold your knees and roll over to the right side, keeping your knees bent at a right angle, and allow them rest on the bed.
- See if you can have your legs are no lower than the right angle to your torso.
- Slide your left hand to your waist and allow your elbow to rest back, creating a gentle twist to your spine. If your knees come apart, or if you feel too much pull, place a pillow or your hand between your knees.
- Rest your head wherever it is most comfortable.
- Stay here for 2-4 minutes noticing your breath; then change sides.
*If this hurts in any way, come out of the pose. If you have any disc problems or any form of osteoporosis, you must be extra careful as any deep twisting may be counterproductive.
Breath: A few of the many benefits is that breath oxygenates your body and calms your nervous system.
Try this simple Ocean Sounding Breath (it is one of my personal favorites):
- Place a pillow under your head to slightly tuck your chin.
- To find the ocean sound, pretend you are fogging a mirror through your mouth and then do it again with your mouth closed. It is the sound that you make when you are trying to whisper to get someone’s attention with no one else hearing you.
- Gently narrow the back of your throat passages and breathe in and out through your nose. The sound is similar to the sound of a conch shell at your ear, or when you submerge your ears below water. It also reminds me of the sound of Darth Vader’s voice from Star Wars.
- Once you have the soft ocean sound, make it smooth and steady. You are breathing normally, but with a gentle narrowing at the back of your throat. The key is to listen to the sound of your breath and make it so quiet that only you can hear it, both on the inhale and exhale. Every time you have a thought (and you will), guide your awareness back to the sound of your breath. If you cannot find this sound, do not force it, rather simply listen to your easy breathing.
These two techniques are very effective to help you access a deep state of relaxation. Even if you still cannot sleep, you will reap the benefits of a calmer body and mind. Until next time: Sleep well!
Let me know in the comments below if you tried these techniques. How did the work? Were you able to calm your mind a bit more?