Happy Holiday Season! Thank you so much for your love and support during 2013. To say thank you, I’m sharing the sleep information from Nurturing Wellness through Radical Self- Care to help you navigate this busy time of year.
Positive thought is the key to a long and happy life. The more positive your thoughts, the more relaxed your body and the greater the likelihood you’ll sleep like a baby.
Most of us still need a helping hand from time to time and the information below is designed to help you rest, relax, and sleep soundly and restfully. I am partial to Breathing for Sleep. I do this exercise anytime I wake up during the night or have trouble falling asleep. I works for me and all these suggestions have worked for my clients since I began using them almost 15 years ago.
REB, Breath Work, and Sleep
Because REB relaxation is calming, it is a good sleep aid. If you rest quietly in the posture for 10–15 minutes prior to going to bed, your body and mind will be relaxed, your thoughts quieted. Personally I like to climb in bed and then hold the posture for a few moments so I can just drift off to sleep. If you have long-term sleep problems, try drinking some relaxing herbal tea blends prepared to aid sleep, and then spend some time in the posture. Think of it as REB and Tea Time. Some easy-to-find herbal tea blends that help with relaxation at bedtime are:
- Good Earth Tea for Sleep
- Yogi Bedtime Herbal Tea Supplement
- Celestial Seasonings Sleepy-time
- Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax Tea
The best tip I have about awakening during the night is to accept that you have awakened. Don’t allow the sleeplessness to anger and frustrate you. The frustration, tossing, and turning only delay sleep and exhaust you. When you wake up in the middle of the night, REB will help you get back to sleep. I recommend that you find the easiest way to hold the posture comfortably while in bed. I usually turn on my side, because the bed helps support the posture. If no other health problems exist, once your relaxation response is locked in, sleep will be less of an issue or no issue at all.
A Breathing Tip
When stressed, we all take shallow breaths that deprive us of the oxygen our body needs causing greater physiological symptoms of stress. When we feel fearful, threatened in some way by our emotions or the events around us, we begin to breathe quickly and shallowly from high in our chest. This can lead to a full blown panic attack. “Normal deep breath” describes the kind of breath I’d like you to adopt. Normal breathing is belly breathing. Your abdomen rises and falls just like the belly of a sleeping baby. I suggest your in breath and out breath be nice and full, setting an intent to fill your lungs on each inhale and then empty them on each exhale. Please don’t exaggerate your breath by huffing and puffing or forcefully blowing the exhale out your mouth. Breathe quietly through your nose. The ideal is a full, quiet in breath and a quiet peaceful out breath that occurs naturally when you are totally relaxed.
Breathing for Sleep
Remember the meditations Breathe, Imagine, Relax and Gap Breathing? We’re going to incorporate Gap Breathing with Mindful Breathing. (Adding REB is an option.)
- Make sure you are in a sleeping position that you really like—a position that creates a cozy, relaxed feeling.
- Use the Gap Breathing you learned earlier. Begin by taking a nice, normal deep breath, hold it for a second and then drop the breath into your lower abdomen. Begin to breathe from your abdomen. Normal, deep breathing is calming.
- Breathe from your abdomen; inhale, continuing to use gap breathing.
- Begin to use the REB posture. Use bilateral squeezing if it is comforting to you. Bring the issue you are worrying about to mind and notice your body as you breathe. Notice the areas of bodily tension and focus on them as you breathe. You can imagine that you are breathing into the stressed areas. Continue focusing and breathing until the tension reduces or disappears. Notice the next area of tension and repeat the instructions. Notice your thoughts, especially worry and fear thoughts.
- Allow yourself to relax around each troubling thought until the emotional impact is gone.
- Focus on your breath. Notice yourself inhaling. Notice the quietness in the gap at the top of your inhale. Exhale, and notice the gap at the end of the exhale. Notice your body as you let go of stress with each exhale. Notice how it feels to inhale, hold the gap, exhale, hold the gap. If you feel your mind begin to wonder, bring your focus back to the breath.
- Continue to breathe this way until you drift into sleep.
- If you haven’t drifted off to sleep after a reasonable time, notice how relaxed your body has become. Continue to focus on your breath and your breathing. Resting quietly is much more preferable than tossing and turning or getting up and watching TV. Quiet rest is very deep and very restorative. Accept your situation and rest quietly.
- Occasionally I’ll add paired words (peaceful–rest or soft–comforting) to my in breath and out breath in just the same way I add them during walking meditation. This causes a deep ANS response because you are getting the relaxation of the breath paired with the relaxing frequency of the verbal message.
Warm Smiles and Happy Holidays Everyone!