Sleep is supposed to be rejuvenating but often its not. I believe that this is because we don’t get our minds and bodies ready for sleep. We just aren’t relaxed enough to get good night’s sleep.
Many of us equate relaxation with sleeping but they are actually two totally different things. You see, although they may be interconnected, sleeping is not actually relaxing. Sleeping is defined as “a state of semi-unconsciousness” This is a state that we go into on a daily basis so that our minds and bodies can rejuvenate themselves. Our minds use sleep to sort out much of the information that we take in during the day for later use. The cells of our bodies also go into a type of regeneration during sleep which allows our cell structures to be rebuilt and restored.
The problem for many of us is that we have a difficult time getting to sleep. More than that, even if we do fall asleep, we toss and turn and wake up frequently. I’ve found that in order to get a great night’s sleep on a consistent basis, you need to learn how to relax first and then fall asleep after that. So I want to give you three different ways that you can use to relax that will prepare your body and mind for the sleep that you have been missing.
The first thing I found that I was doing was stimulating my mind too much and too late in the evening. I would work until late at night and then try to fall asleep. Or I would watch TV or read a stimulating book and try to fall asleep. Then I would lie down and tell myself to go to sleep while my eyes refused to stay shut for a half hour or more. What I found was, although I was doing unintentionally, I was stimulating my mind in a way that prevented me from falling into a good night’s sleep.
What I’ve done to counteract this is that I have set a time limit that I can do any work at night. I also turn off the television. Most evenings I take a warm bath and then read for about 15 minutes. The books I read are interesting but not mood enhancing. Also I have found that a few minutes of quiet Chi Kung (Qigong) deep breathing and meditation exercises helps my mind and body relax. Using this routine my mind and body are positioned to where sleep will come naturally.
The second thing I did was eliminate the glass of wine I had been drinking at night. I used to think that I was helping my body get ready to sleep when I was drinking a little alcohol but I what I found was that the opposite is actually true. When we consume alcohol at bedtime, its sedating affect can decrease the time we need to fall asleep. This leads many people with insomnia to think that alcohol promotes sleep. What experts have found is that if we drink alcohol before bed or to promote sleep the second half of our sleep is disrupted and we toss and turn and/or wake up from dreams and then have a difficult time falling back to sleep. This sleep interruption in the second half of our sleep can lead to daytime fatigue and sleepiness. So if you want to get a truly good night’s sleep get rid of the evening alcohol.
Finally, the third thing I found was to make my environment conducive to relaxation. For example, I’ve had to train my 18 year old daughter to turn down the television in her room which is adjacent to mine so that when I do my Chi Kung (Qigong) breathing and meditation exercises I can actually relax. I have eliminated as much of the light in my room as possible. I might play a recording of soft sounds of nature to help my mind drift off to sleep. Doing these things has helped my sleep tremendously.