Tips You Won't Find Anywhere Else
Nothing is quite like a good night's sleep. For the past 30 years, I have been collecting strategies for dozing off into the abyss. First, please note that I do not take pills. The following tips work for me without pharmaceuticals or supplements.
1. Go to sleep lying on your left-hand side. The sphincter between the esophagus and stomach lies closed when you lie on your left. Not so when lying on your right; studies have shown that the sphincter opens, causing undigested food and stomach acids to leak back into the esophagus. Conversely, lying on the right side in the morning aids in elimination of wastes. If you can arrange it, have your bed situated in your bedroom so that you face the door when you lie on your left, because it's better feng shui for getting to sleep.
This idea of lying on the left is nothing new. In the Jewish religion, it was recommended to lie first on one's left, and then on one's right as the night progressed:
A person should train himself to sleep on his side. Sleeping on one's back or on one's stomach is a severe transgression. It is beneficial to begin one's sleep while lying on the left side, and afterwards to change to the right side.
This is beneficial to one's health, since the liver is on one's right side, and the stomach on one's left. When one leans to the left, the liver will lie on the stomach and warm it with its heat. This will hasten the digestion of the food. After the food is digested, it is preferable to lean to the right, thus allowing the stomach to rest and the wastes to descend. One should not turn frequently from side to side.
If you sleep lying on your back, consider elevating your upper body if you've eaten too close to bedtime. In general, try not to eat anything at least two hours before sleeping.
2. Open your hands for sleeping. Lie your palms flat and then relax your hands. Try not to go to sleep with clenched fists. If you learned to sleep with balled fists as a child, and it's the only way you can sleep, then ignore this tip. I don't know why this one works, but I suspect it has to do with releasing unconscious tension.
3. Use a ritual to prepare for sleep. Don't listen to music that might repeat over and over in your head. Tunes that do this are called earworms. If you have an earworm in your head, break the cycle by playing Deepak Chopra's "A Gift of Love." Works every time. Don't watch television right before sleeping. Read a book or article with a relaxing theme. Drinking warm tea can settle the body and calm the mind. I enjoy Celestial Seasoning's Sleepytime and Nighty Night, Bigelow's Sweet Dreams, Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime, or any chamomile tea.
4. Use relaxing aromas on your pulse points before retiring to bed. My absolute favorite is Eve Taylor's Body Oil #10. It contains Mandarin, thyme, lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender and it smells heavenly. I dab it on my wrists and between my collarbones. It's a ritual that tells my system to slow down and start relaxing.
5. Once you close your eyes, don't open them to look at the clock. Instead of thinking about how you can't sleep, allow thoughts to float through your mind. If you agonize over staying in bed versus getting up, ask yourself, "Should I be sleeping right now?" Are you tired? Then stay in bed and assume that you won't get up.
6. Meditate. I discovered this fabulous meditation program called One Mind Live more than a year ago. Three gifted people, Stephen Fearnley, Naomi Jenzen and Naomi Carling, each contribute their magic to, what I consider to be a world-class, online, live program each Thursday that can be repeated whenever desired by member subscribers.
Stephen composes beautiful, relaxing music that underlies each 40-minute session. The first Naomi delivers a ten-minute tapping session. Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), invented by Gary Craig, consists of lightly tapping on acupuncture points while thinking about a specific topic. Naomi guides the listeners through each point, saying the words that relate to a theme, for example, handling stress, finding your power, dealing with pain, confronting anxiety, using intuition. Meditators repeat after Naomi, as she brings you into your body, into the present moment, and dissolves issues. She neatly prepares members for the next Naomi, who gives a truly inspired, sleep-inducing guided meditation. Her voice is gentle and soothing, and each week she comes up with a different journey for her listeners.
I meditate with them at least five times per week, often right before nodding off in my bed, but sometimes in the middle of the night when my "monkey mind" won't stop ruminating. I always know that it's working when I wake up hours later, not knowing what the second Naomi was saying last.
Stephen, Naomi and Naomi are very generous. They will take suggestions for topics, give out many free gifts, and begin each weekly broadcast with a discussion about spiritual topics, the vagaries of life, or fun and interesting banter. You can try them out for free before you subscribe. I love them!
Hopefully I've helped you find new ways to relax, rest, and wake refreshed!
For more tips, you can visit the National Sleep Foundation and feel free to leave your favorite ideas below.