You might think you’re getting a good night’s rest but if you’re waking up tired, you may be experiencing some form of insomnia. According to a Gallup Poll, about 40% of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Are you one of them?
Trouble with sleep is a health concern near and dear to my heart mostly because I’ve experienced it and I treat it as an acupuncturist and herbalist all. the. time.
Here are 5 tips to help you get higher quality zzz’s at night:
1) Exercise 3-5 times/week for 20 minutes. Sitting all day can wreak havoc on your health and can actually increase your chances of sudden death by 40%. Moving a little each day will help get your circulation going (in Chinese medicine speak, that means move blood and qi). No matter what type of exercise you prefer: walk, jog, yoga, tai chi, swimming…as long as you move and get your heart rate up.
2) Stretch at night before bed. Regardless of how active you are during the day, it is vital to stretch everyday to keep your muscles limber and prevent injury. Don’t overdo it with stretching. Notice your edge but don’t push through it. Honor your body and breathe into your muscles. Set the intention that this stretching is for relaxation and de-stressing.
3) Make a worry list before bed. After a long, busy day, worries and things to do the next day can easily keep you awake at night.
Try this trick: Before bed, grab a pen and paper and draw a vertical line down the page. On the left side, at the top of the page write “Worries” and on the right side, write “To Do.” Then, list all of the worries you’re thinking about and beside each worry, if there’s something you need to do about that worry, jot it down. This way you’re not going to bed trying to remember what you need to do. You’ll sleep soundly knowing that you don’t have to take your worries to bed with you.
4) Breathe deeply. If you’re not sleeping well, it can be frustrating. And bedtime can be surrounded by a lot of emotions, especially if your sleep concern is chronic.
One way to slow down before bed is doing a breathing exercise:
a) As you’re lying in bed, before you’re ready to fall asleep, calmly place your hands on your abdomen over the navel.
b) Notice your breathing without changing it. How does it feel to you?
c) Start to slow down your breathing.
d) Take a few deeper breaths into the abdomen. Imagine your abdomen filling with oxygen.
e) Do this for a 10 breaths.
f) The intention is to notice your breath and perhaps, take deep breaths. It’s not to turn off your mind or completely Zen out.
g) As your breath slows down, imagine stress and tension leaving your body with each exhale.
5) Have some calcium before bed. You know calcium as an important vitamin for bone health and dental health but did you know it can help with insomnia? It has a calming effect on the heart and helps relax your muscles when taken in combination with magnesium. We recommend getting your calcium either in supplement form or taking a tablespoon of molasses and mixing it with hot water. Either way you take it, you’ll notice a difference.
These are easy at-home tips you can do everyday. However, if you’ve literally tried everything to get better sleep and nothing’s worked, it might be time to talk to a licensed acupuncturist. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help balance you and calm your mind and body so you can sleep more restfully. Contact us today if you’d like to talk more about how Chinese medicine can help improve your sleep.
Our previous article 5 Tips on How to Get Rid of Insomnia for Good is one of our most popular posts of all time. Check it out here if you haven’t already.
Source: Gallup Poll, In U.S., 40% Get Less Than Recommended Amount of Sleep