Is Stress Keeping You Awake?
You know the feeling — you dread going to bed because you aren’t going to fall asleep anyway. If stress is keeping you awake at night, you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans have fallen into a vicious cycle, with stress during the day causing them to be too tense or worried to sleep well at night. And then the lack of sleep, in turn, creates more stress on the job and at home.
Since the pace of life is not likely to slow down (let’s face it, all those time-saving electronic devices have just made everything more busy), it’s time to learn how to manage the stress during the day — and sleep better at night.
Create a Routine to Reduce Stress
For any sleep difficulty, Maharishi Ayurveda recommends that you go to bed well before 10:00 at night. That's because after 10:00, a more active, Pitta-quality sleep sets in. If you fall asleep before then, you'll imbibe more slow, restful, Kapha qualities. Your sleep will tend to be deeper, and you'll find it easier to fall asleep. Almost anyone can experience deep, restful, Stage 4 sleep by doing just this one thing — going to bed before 10:00 at night.
Being more physically active during the day can also help you sleep better at night. Sleep researchers, for instance, have documented that a brief period of moderate exercise three to four hours before bed, such as taking a brisk walk after dinner, can help deepen sleep. Other studies link physical fitness with improved sleep quality.
To relax your neck and shoulders as well as your back and abdomen, doing simple, light yoga postures before bed can release tension and help you drift into sleep.
Calm Your Mind
Practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique has been shown to be the most effective way to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health, according to over 600 research studies at the most prestigious universities and research institutes throughout the world. It helps you to focus, to be more creative, and to accomplish more during the day — so you can rest without worry at night.
Make Your Bedroom an Oasis of Calm
Create a timeless bedroom and keep time pressures away from your sleeping place. If you have to use an alarm clock, put it in a place where you can't see it. Preserve your bedroom as a comfortable, relaxing haven, a place for warm, intimate and relaxing relationships. Keep heated discussions, intense brainstorming, television watching, computer work, and monthly budgets out of your bedroom.
Especially avoid violent, suspenseful TV shows before bed. Instead, surround yourself with influences that cultivate your peace of mind while you fall asleep. Before bed, take pleasant breaths: using Slumber Time Aroma or lavender will allow the relaxing scents to go directly to your olfactory lobe. This will help to induce sleep, sometimes within minutes.
Listening to soothing music, saying bedtime prayers, and practicing positive affirmations can help you move in the direction of being more and more peaceful.
If you're going to be thinking of something, recall your fondest memories, particularly of childhood, where you had soothing, blissful, wonderful sleep, or when you had an amazingly restful vacation. Invite those thoughts instead of ones that cause you worry and stress.
Create Balance with Herbal Supplements
A study at the University of California at San Diego by Dr. Paul Mills showed that the Worry Free herbal supplement is effective in reducing day-to-day worries and also reduces cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress).
Blissful Sleep, which is designed to help you fall asleep naturally, has a three-fold action. Some of the herbs, such as Indian Valerian, help a person to relax into sleep. Other herbs, such as Ashwagandha, restore the body's own inner intelligence to improve the quality of sleep. A third group of herbs helps to deal with any difficulties resulting from prolonged sleep deficiency, such as issues related to the immune system and weakened coordination between heart and mind.
Due to the synergistic combination of a variety of herbs, there are no side effects. There is no groggy feeling (as created by modern drugs and by some single-ingredient natural remedies), but instead people report a fresh feeling of enthusiasm, increased ability to concentrate, reduced stress, and better managing ability.
Do You Know Your Sleep IQ?
Even if the quality of your sleep seems good, you might not be getting enough sleep at night. In assessing your sleep health, you also need to look at how you feel during the day. For example:
- Do you experience such things as dullness, poor muscle tone, or a lack of spontaneity?
- Do you have a tendency to be bored or feel unhappy?
- Or, on the other hand, do you have tension, fear and excess worry?
- Do you suffer from decreased cooperativeness, loss of acceptance of constructive criticism, irritability, temper outbursts, lowered attention span, impaired recent memory, decreased sex drive, physical complaints such as headache or backache, or decreased interest in personal care?
- Are you addicted to coffee, cigarettes, and stimulants, or even alcohol or drugs?
- Are you noticing a reduction in general health and joy in living?
If you answered "yes" to a majority of these questions, it might be a cue that your stress levels are too high and you're not sleeping enough, or deeply enough, for your health.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.