Are you one of the unfortunate souls that knows the torture of lying awake hour after hour while the rest of the world slumbers? If you're reading this page, you or someone you love suffers from insomnia.
You know how different your day is going to be if you've slept well or not. And if you haven't slept, you also know what you're in for that day: sluggish memory, brain fog, low energy to name a few.
If you're lucky, a nap is in your schedule.
You know the value of a good night sleep (and you may even appreciate it more than someone who hasn't experienced insomnia). This only adds to the anxiety of being awake... knowing that you're not getting the rest your body needs.
Sleep is one of a human's basic needs. We need air, water, food, and SLEEP to live. It's heartbreaking to our spirit when we don't sleep, night after night, after night.
I've had this life altering struggle just like you.
Stress was the ultimate trigger. If something happened that day that was remotely stressful, I would lie awake at night feeling the anxiety.
It happened more and more... it was as if I had sent an invitation to my nervous system to be anxious in the middle of the night for 3 or 4 hours every other night. This went on for about 3 years.
The truth is, it took some trial and error to find what worked for me.
And if you're still suffering, hang in there. There IS a concoction of remedies and behaviors that will do the trick.
Here are 5 things you can do for a better night sleep that have worked for myself and for my clients.
1. Create a calming nighttime ritual
Even if you haven't had a particularly stressful day, and your parasympathetic nervous system is already kicked on, the routine of a calming nighttime ritual will tell your body it's time for bed. It will know that once this ritual is done, the next step is slumber.
Every night when I take my dogs out to use the loo one last time, I also use this time for myself. This is when I take the opportunity to do 15 minutes of qigong, then gaze at the moon and stars and spiritually ground myself.
After that, it's time for calming lemon balm tea and reading in bed. My eyes soon get heavy after about 20 minutes.
I recommend reading something that is not too stimulating... no crime, violence, or murder mysteries here. I personally stick to inspiring, uplifting, non-fiction before bed.
2. Wear orange glasses to block blue light after dark.
First, you have to be aware of our circadian rhythm, particularly with cortisol and melatonin. Ideally, we make the most cortisol in the morning when we wake up and see first light. Melatonin is stimulated by darkness and we start producing it in the evening, as long as we're not taking in too much artificial light.
By exposing ourselves to too much artificial light in the evening, particularly blue light, we are breaking this natural cycle and we fail to produce enough melatonin.
Humans evolved over the warm, orange glow of fire... not the blue light emitted from televisions, tablets, or smart phones. Blue light is particularly harmful in the evenings.
If you're not into screens at night, but still use artificial lighting (as most of us do) consider using very dim incandescent light bulbs which offer orange-tinted lighting. Avoid LED and natural light which give off a brighter, whiter light at night in your home.
You could always go old fashioned and use beeswax candles!
When you do find yourself having difficulty either falling asleep or falling back to sleep, I've found this breathing technique to be amazingly helpful.
1. Lying on your back, place your hands on your belly.
2. Gently inhale through the nose for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 4.
3. Then, for your exhale with a slightly closed throat (almost as if you were trying to snore) let the air pass through your compressed throat (out your nose, keeping your mouth closed) for a count of 11.
4. This allows the air to escape much slower and as you're compressing your throat, you're activating the vagus nerve which turns on your parasympathetic nervous system.
5. Then, hold wait 4 seconds before taking your next 4 second inhale.
This only needs to be done about 6 times.
4. Get spiritual
I can't tell you how many times I've fallen asleep praying... even when I wasn't trying to!
Pray however and to whomever you normally do. I've found that just having this conversation, while also asking to be surrounded in white light has kind of worked like magic for me when I was awake for hours in the middle of the night.
5. THIS PODCAST/RADIO SHOW by Anthony william
Of course, there were nights where none of my tricks worked. Unless you get to the root cause of your chronic insomnia, it will never completely go away.
My insomnia stopped being chronic when I not only went plant-based, but when I implemented recommendations from Anthony William in this podcast.
The info here helped me get to the root cause of my insomnia and now I only can't sleep when my mind is trying to solve a problem, or experiencing anxiety over a situation.
In the former case, I take a deep breath, imagine it wrapped up in a box, and set in on a shelf to stow away for tomorrow. For anxiety, I use numbers 3 and 4.
6. Turn off electronics and keep them away from you!
For a few years, I was addicted to having my phone on my night stand. I used it as a clock, an alarm, and I was even guilty of surfing Pintrest when I couldn't sleep (NEVER use an electronic device when you can't sleep!).
Turn. it. off. And then don't have it anywhere near you! Don't even keep it in the bedroom.
And buy yourself an analog or old fashioned alarm clock with NO blue light.
Also, once we started unplugging our internet, my husband and I found that we both experienced a deeper sleep.
The EMF's from the internet and these electronic devices keep your nervous system excited... and that's the LAST thing you want if you suffer with insomnia.
You deserve to sleep. Implement ALL of these things and I know you will improve your sleep. Happy Sleeping, my friends! ❤️
To your health and healing,
Need help improving your quality or quantity of sleep? I've got you covered. Learn more here.