Sleep is the greatest healer of mind, body and spirit. Human and animal bodies must have a restorative time when consciousness is suspended, but our nervous and endocrine systems are very active. Your brain activity reduces in the areas controlling decisions, emotion, and social activity, while it increases in the areas which control memory, learning and creativity. *
Even if you normally sleep very deeply, you may on occasion find your sleep is disturbed and your mental capacities are diminished because of it. The “foggy brain” and tired body that indicate that you slept poorly can drastically interfere with mood, energy, and thought processes. Here are some effective ways to prevent and treat occasional (or frequent) insomnia.
- Meditation: A guided meditation geared toward sleep is a very effective method of calming the body and mind into peaceful slumber. When repeated, the body usually “entrains” to the auditory cues and gradually resets so that you can fall asleep easily.
- A cool bedroom: It is known that the body changes it’s internal thermostat to a cooler temperature to achieve sleep. Have a cool bath or shower before bed, keep the temperature comfortably low (experts recommend around 65 degrees), and wear breathable pajamas.
- Natural supplements: Various herbs have been used for millenia for restful sleep. Valerian, lemon balm, lavender, as well as the hormone melatonin, are all available over the counter.
- Sleep-time foods: Have a light snack about an hour before bed time that contains both complex carbohydrates and protein, to balance the body’s fuel for the night. Magnesium and potassium are natural relaxants, as well as the theanine found in green tea (be sure it’s decaffeinated).
- Turn off the electronics: It has been shown that stimulation from televisions, computers, and mobile devices can greatly interfere with bedtime relaxation. The light and electronic emissions interfere with the brain’s natural sleep rhythms.