De-stressing & Sleeping Well

I love the feeling of lying down on my bed and just breathing a sigh of relief that I can finally go to sleep. I look forward to having those sweet dreams of floating or just happy encounters with my loved ones. But sometimes, sleep doesn’t always come easily. My head fills with thoughts of all the things I have to do the next day or all the little and big upsets that I may have had throughout the day. I’m definitely not alone in this problem of resting well.According to a new study looking at sleep problems in Luxembourg as compared to the rest of the world, insomnia, nightmares and restlessness are a global problem. And though this latest study was aimed at showing how well (or not) the people of Luxembourg sleep, its findings are telling:

A whopping 75 percent of Luxembourgers claim to suffer from insomnia due to work anxiety. But the worldwide average? It’s 85 percent. That’s astounding!

Monday morning anxiety prevents 78 percent of workers around the world from getting a decent sleep on a Sunday night. (Michael J. Breus, PhD, The Sleep Doctor™)

On a global scale, the day-to-day job stress leaves, on average, 23 percent of workers struggling to sleep. So what’s going on here? The writing is on the wall. Our daily stresses are having a profound affect on our ability to sleep well.

“Cultures, traditions, geography and economic climates aside, we all need sleep,” says Michael Breus.

We all feel the pressure of our life challenges which often rear their ugly heads in our bedrooms. Many of us have become like the old commercial from the USA with the ‘Energizer bunny’ who keeps hopping around because his batteries are fully charged. We just keep going and going until we finally collapse in our beds. Our bodies say ‘sleep’, but our minds say something else.

So how can we de-stress and sleep well? Here are some tips that will help you rewire your brain:

show· RELAX – Throughout the day, take “mini-breaks”. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Slowly take in a deep breath and hold it; then exhale very slowly. Do this for a few minutes whenever you feel stressed. At the same time, scan your body and become aware of where you’re holding tension. Mentally tell that part to relax, e.g. “Relax my shoulders, the back of my neck; just relax.” Keep repeating: “I am r-e-l-a-x-e-d.”

· PRACTICE ACCEPTANCE – ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’. Be in acceptance of the things that can’t be changed, for example someone else’s feelings or beliefs. Four great questions you can ask that will help you with issues that arise are: What is this? What do I do with this? Can I change this? If so, how do I change it?

· TALK RATIONALLY TO YOURSELF – When a challenging issue arises, ask yourself what real impact will this situation have on me in a day or in a week? What can I do or be to change this situation so that it can be totally easy for me and all concerned? Watch out for perfectionism, because this is a judgment. Who or what determines what’s ‘perfect’? If you set realistic and attainable goals you will be able to reduce or even eliminate your stress.

· REDUCE TIME URGENCY – Be careful of procrastination as this will heighten your stress levels. Try breaking tasks into smaller units that are more manageable, and prioritizing the things that you want to get done. I personally make a list which I divide up into a weekly calendar. Recognize that you can only do so much in a given period. Practice the notion of “pace, not race”.

These tips for reducing stress may be all that you need to start sleeping well, but if they don’t work then you can also incorporate the following:

1. Don’t eat three hours before you go to bed. If you eat too late, your stomach is still working on digesting your food which will disturb your ability to sleep well.

2. Vitamin B complex is also important for a good night’s sleep. You can get this from the following foods:

· Lean cuts of pork, lamb & veal

· Trout & sardines

· Chicken, tuna & fortified breakfast cereals are a good source of niacin

· Broad beans are rich in pantothenic acid

· Wheat germ, walnuts & baked potatoes contain vitamin B6 and b12 is found in yogurt, cheese (but don’t eat before bedtime as cheese may cause nightmares) & seaweed.

· Be sure to drink 1.7 – 2.3 liters of water depending on your body weight

Research has also shown that the mineral magnesium can significantly affect the quality of your sleep. Great sources of magnesium are: green vegetables, avocados, bananas, peanut butter, nuts and seeds. It’s also very important to eat organic and avoid MSG. *note – MSG is found naturally in mushrooms, carrots and some seaweeds; also avoid yellow coloring tartrazine (E-102) found widely in fizzy drinks, cookies and candy.

Exercise & Meditation:

mother earthResearch also indicates that walking on a treadmill during the day can promote sleep at night. Only exercise 5 – 6 hours before your bedtime though, because if you exercise too late you’ll get energized and won’t be able to sleep. Also try doing some gentle stretching before bedtime, which will help you relax your muscles, making it easier for you to sleep well.

Additionally, each night at bedtime begin practicing a ‘Progressive Relaxation Meditation’. This has helped many of my clients who have struggled with sleep disorders. Here’s the meditation as follows:

Progressive Relaxation Meditation

Begin at the top of your head and say: “Relax all my muscles on the top of my head, forehead, around my eyes; relax my sinuses, my whole nose, relax my cheeks and jaw, relax my chin, relax my whole face, my whole face is totally relaxed now. Relax the back of my head, relax the outside of my ears and inside, relax my throat, the back of my neck.

Continue progressively relaxing each part of your body in as much detail as possible to experience total relaxation. It is best to do this slowly with the intention: “Each time I relax a part of my body, it is easier and easier for me to drift off to sleep.”

Additionally, for those who have tried all or most of the above but still have sleep disorders, you may want to look into alternative therapies such as hypnotherapy or Reiki. Both of these therapies can assist you with de-stressing and creating a more positive mindset. Whatever you choose, please know that it is totally possible for you to have a stress-free life and sleep well.

Michele is an Energy healer, Hypnotherapist, Transformational coach & Reiki Master who specializes in transforming people’s lives using a variety of tools. She receives direct transmissions from her guides, enabling her to offer her clients greater clarity about specific life issues and assist them with resolution.

Copyright 2013 © Michele Cempaka

Originally posted @ New Earth Institute – Academy of Health & Wellness

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