We have recently posted an article on how sleeping positions affect our health and mood, and in this article, we are going to dive deeper into the science of sleep.
Most of us are familiar with routines and activities we should and shouldn’t do before we go to bed, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, eating certain foods, watching television, checking emails, and similar things, however, lack of sleep goes beyond being moody or cranky the next day because we checked the email or watched the more. For many years now, especially with the progress of technology, science has been emphasizing the importance of sleep, linking sleep deficiency to mild or serious mental and health problems, and specific conditions that has roots in unhealthy sleeping habits.
In this article, I would like to share more sleeping tips and tricks I believe can help, including the benefits of napping.
Healthy and rejuvenating sleep is often a result of a routine, a specific atmosphere and a healthy lifestyle.
Between having a good bedtime ritual, which means doing the same things every night to send a clear message to the body that it’s sleeping time, and preparing a comfortable atmosphere ideal for sleeping, setting an alarm clock to remind you of going to bed is apparently a good way to stay on track with the routines. One could set an alarm clock to wash the face at 9.30, or to turn off the computer at 9.00.
A warm bath is the most popular way to induce sleep; however, did you try socks?
According to a study, our warm extremities predict how quickly we fall asleep. The study explains that the degree of dilation of blood vessels in the skin of the feet and hands is a good psychological predictor for the rapid sleep. Therefore, the next time you wish to fall asleep faster, in case a hot shower didn’t help you, put a pair of clean socks before going to bed.
Perhaps you didn’t know, but magnesium enhances ability to sleep, and represent one of the key ingredients necessary for uninterested sleep during the night. Snacking on magnesium-rich food, for instance, pumpkin seeds or chewing on spinach and Swiss chard will induce sleep. I suggest you try it (if you haven’t already).
Sleeping positions are important, but what about our comfort?
Stomach sleepers, in particular, should pay more attention to the perfect pillow; they should sleep on a flat and very thin pillow, while side sleepers need firmer pillow. The reason many people have troubles sleeping are also the allergies caused by dust or bacteria in pillows – they need to be replaced every 12 to 14 months.
Naps and laziness have nothing in common; on the contrary, naps offer more benefits for both the body and the mind.
Napping boosts creativity, productivity, alertness, and mood later throughout the day. NASA conducted a research on the pilots, and showed that a 26-minute nap in flight (while co-pilot is awake of course) enhanced a performance by 35 and alertness by 54 percent. What do you think now?
Another study from Harvard Medical School found out that 45-minute nap triggers active memory process, improving memory and learning ability. Regular midday naps are also linked to a healthier heart, according to another study. There is an amazing Ted talk on the importance of taking breaks and the importance of healthy sleep you should see.
Meditation promotes relaxation, thus good sleep, but what kind of meditation?
Various meditation techniques exist, but not every technique is good, especially in promoting sleep. It is a common misconception that mediation requires specific book knowledge (although books on mediation can help, and open the door to better understanding of spirituality), or that unless you are a Buddhist, you shouldn’t practice mediation. I know people who enjoy doing Sri Chinmoy’s meditations, but never read his book or went to his lecture, which means you can do the same.
When it comes to sleeping, some meditations can bring more alertness, awake the energy, and contribute to better concentration and urge to create, to express yourself, which is the opposite of what you would want to accomplish. Luckily, other meditations are good at bringing relaxation and getting rid of daily stress and mind-troubling daily reflections, and this is what you need.
There is a meditation called Four Buttons, proposed by the writer of the Holly Knowledge and the Places of Power, which a friend of mine suggested.
This is how the meditation is done: you can either sit in the usual meditation pose, or lay down comfortably on the bed, with your eyes closed. You need to imagine a rectangular table or board, with four buttons (marked with numbers from 1 to 4) placed in the each corner of the board, starting with the upper-left corner, as you can see in the picture below.
In your mind, you need to move the button number 1 and place it in the middle of the lower margin of the board. Then, move the button number 2 in the middle of the left margin, the button number 3 in the middle of the upper margin, and the button number 4 in the middle of the right margin. Once you replace the buttons, start returning them back in the beginning positions, starting with the button number 1.
You can do this mediation three times, up to a minute. The buttons can be moved, that is, “dragged”, but you should not “lift” them from the board.
When you are lying in your bed awake, try inhaling through your left nostril.
Peter Smith, a holistic sleep therapist, explains the yoga method that reduces blood pressure and bring relaxation. You should lie on your left side, rest a finger on your right nostril to close it, and start to breathe slowly but deeply through your left nostril. According to him, this yoga method is especially good when the heat is preventing you from falling asleep.
Acupuncture pressure points are promoting sleep, if you know which point to press.
Use your thumb, and gently, but firmly, press between your eyebrows at the top of your nose, with your thumb, three times for 20 seconds, and you will experience mild relaxation, according to Dr Chris Idzikowski, the director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre. In his book Sound Asleep, The Expert Guide To Sleeping Well, there are more explanations on the body’s points, such as the one between your big toe and second toe. To induce sleep, sit on the edge of the bed with your right foot across your left knee, find the slight indent and press it gently, but firmly.
Do you know other tricks? Share with us below in comments.
Image by 123RF Photo Stock