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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sleep Aides: Tips Techniques and Remedies

Rose knows that stress is a major cause of insomnia. Stress is unavoidable as we try to deal with personal problems, family and work issues and scheduling in our daily to-do-list. Trying to achieve an inner calm to relax enough to get to sleep is not always an easy feat. Some of your stress is controllable while some are not. What are not controllable are external factors such as outside noise and light. If your bedroom is too light it will reduce your body’s ability to produce melatonin a hormone that controls your inner sleep/wake cycle. You can add blinds or blackout curtains to control the amount of light that enters your room. Or you could wear an eye mask if you are staying at a hotel or a guest at another home. You can also purchase a melatonin supplement at a local pharmacy or health food store.

An external noise can also contribute to stress which you may have no or limited control over, especially if you live in an apartment or staying at a hotel. Your bedroom should be for sleep and sex only and not for watching television, playing video games or searching the web. It will take your mind extra time to fall asleep if it is constantly thinking of how to beat Goomba in Super Mario Brothers. If noise is due to an outside influence you might need to find something to block out the noise by listening to sleep music, white noise or relaxation CDs. If you are staying at a hotel, the fan will drown out the noise. You could also invest in ear plugs or iPod if traveling on an airplane for an extended amount of time. If you plan on sleeping on a long flight your doctor may prescribe a sleep aide like Ambien, but my advice is to limit taking any prescribed sleep medication as it is addictive. Becoming additive to any medication has risks of other health issues such as daytime drowsiness, dizziness, depression and suicidal thoughts. It is recommended that Ambien not taken more than 7 -10 days in a row. Anyone that has chronic insomnia should be treated and monitored by a physician or sleep specialist.

If you mattress is lumpy, sags or just plain uncomfortable, but you cannot afford a new mattress, a memory foam mattress topper may be all you need. A memory foam mattress topper comes in various sizes; twin, full/queen and king and various thicknesses 1” – 4” Cost vary due to the size and thickness. At least a 3” memory foam mattress topper is recommended to overcome any defects you have in your mattress. As anything less requires a firm mattress. Why? When the foam warms from your body heat it depresses to adjust to your pressure points. The depression due to heat will be more than 2 inches, therefore you might still feel the lumps in your mattress.

Not only do you need a mattress that fits your need you also need soft, clean sheet and unrestrictive, cool pajamas. Nothing is worst than waking from sleep and finding yourself strangling or too warm because of your sleepwear and then you have to try to fall asleep all over again!

Some people believe in the principles of feng shui which examines how the placement of things and objects within it affect the energy flow in your living environment, and how these objects interact with and influence your personal energy flow. According to Feng Shui for Dummies the following is how to apply feng shui principles to your bed.

Applying Feng Shui Principles to Your Bed
Feng Shui involves many principles for the auspicious (or favorable) positioning of your bed. To take advantage of as many of them as you can, use common sense, along with the conditions of your individual room, to make the best choices possible. For example, Commanding Position concept shows you how to achieve the most powerful bed position according to one Feng Shui school of thought. If you see that your bedroom doesn't meet these criteria — don't panic! There are cures you can implement to dramatically enhance your bedroom situation.

The position of the bed relative to the door
The first Commanding Position principle states that the position of the bed relative to the bedroom door rates more importantly than the compass direction the bed faces. That is, you don't analyze whether your bed faces east, west, north, or south. You can rest easy and position the bed according to the way it best relates to the other main feature of the room — the door.

The distance from the bed to the door
The second Commanding Position principle holds that the bed should sit as far from the bedroom door as possible. If the door is on the left, the best position is the far right corner of the room; if the door is on the right, the best bed location is the far left of the room; and if the door is the center, the best location is either the far right or far left corner of the room. (See Figure 1.) The farther your bed sits from the door, the more control you can feel over your space and your life. You aren't startled easily, and you have plenty of time to prepare for events as they unfold.

The sleeper's scope of vision
The third Commanding Position principle asserts that the bed position should allow the sleeper the widest possible scope of the room. A diminished range of sight within the room can restrict the sleeper's chi and his or her life vision. The larger the space in front of your bed, the more your life expands, breathes, and improves. For this reason, Feng Shui cautions against placing the foot of the bed against a wall, which can block your career and cause foot and ankle problems. In addition, placing your bed directly against a side wall (with no space between the side of your bed and the wall) can make you feel cramped, stifled, and less flexible in life.

The visibility of the bedroom door
The fourth Commanding Position principle states that you should clearly see the bedroom door from the bed. This concept means that when lying on your back in bed — that is, in the center of the bed (if you sleep alone) or on your side of the bed (if sleeping with a partner) — you can open your eyes and immediately see the door of the room without repositioning your body. If you have to perform gymnastics or create new yoga positions to see who or what's coming in the door, your bed position does not meet this principle.

Not seeing who's approaching can keep you uncertain and on edge. Even if you think that you're accustomed to not seeing the door, you still likely experience ongoing subconscious stress, which can create imbalance and frustration. The possibility of always being startled can keep you on edge, and over time, the continual tension and unrest can cause an imbalance in the nervous system. Results can include nervous problems, arrhythmia, and heart palpitations. In addition, repeatedly twisting the body to see whether someone's coming can cause neck and spinal problems in the long run.

If your bed position doesn't allow you to see the door and you can't move the bed, you can place a sizable mirror opposite the bed that allows you to easily see the door. If you need to angle the mirror to show the door, use a standing mirror angled to the appropriate position.

The direct line from the door
The fifth Commanding Position principle holds that the bed should not sit in the direct line of the path of the doorway. If your bed does sit in the direct line of the door, the chi of the door runs directly and too powerfully up the middle of the bed. This factor can create diseases along the midline of the body.

The farther you sleep from the door and the more of the room you see while in bed, the more you can feel in control of your environment and, therefore, your life. Seeing the door to your bedroom symbolizes that you know what life is bringing and feel prepared to deal with whatever comes. You're in command, and the results manifest positively in many areas of your life.

When following the Commanding Position principle, you can choose from three alternatives for good bed placement.  Choices 1-b and 1-c are both excellent; just be sure, if possible, to leave enough room on the side closest to the wall for your partner (or yourself) to get into bed. Position 1-a (the bed angled in the corner) is the strongest choice of all; it gains support from two walls rather than one wall. If you choose this position, then your bed should feature a solid headboard. Make sure the corners of the bed firmly touch the walls. You can strengthen this bed position by placing a plant and a light behind the headboard. (A real or an artificial plant works for this cure, and the light should be in good working order but doesn't need to be on at all.

What can you do for yourself to release tension, aches and soreness in order to relax? For mental tension there are a variety of products you can purchase such as meditation and hypnotic tapes or CDS, binaural sound waves or audios and natural sounds such as a rain storm or ocean waves. Binaural sound waves also help you recall lucid dreams. Keeping a sleep journal of your dreams may help you to fall asleep. How? Lucid dreaming can be a helpful practice for those with sleeping troubles such as insomnia. When you are having a hard time getting to sleep, remind yourself that sleep means lucid dreaming(by dream recall); and your subconscious mind will make sure that you get to sleep quickly.

Sometimes you might not get to sleep because you are too anxious, emotional or afraid. Crystal therapy has shown to calm and regulate sleeping patterns. The following is an article I found on using Amethyst crystals for a sleep aide from jewelrysuppliers.com

Amethyst Crystals as a sleep and rest aide and dream stimulator by Crystal Healers, New Age Priests and Spiritualists.

Some Gemstones, gems, crystals and minerals have been believed to be a sleep aide, to have an effect on dreams, sleeping, dreaming, insomnia, sleeplessness, nightmares, foretelling, rest, resting, psychic development, consciousness and mental energy. Others have been said to work in the unconscious mind and the spiritual plane and seem to bring mental, ESP, emotional, physical, sleep transition, soothing to the spirit and can sometimes stop sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea, snoring, tossing and turning, stress relief, energy, disturbed sleep or sleep walking.

According to spiritual healers, there are two main characteristics of amethyst that make it a gem of tranquil sleep and inspired dream for fighting sleep disorders: first, its capacity to make that which is disturbed tranquil and its ability to ease transition. They believe that Amethyst is a protective stone that fends off psychic attack and reverts negative energy to positive peaceful energy, that it heals at all levels of mind, body and spirit including all levels of consciousness, and that it can open up channels for spiritual and psychic enlightenment. Members of the New Age also herald its ability to maintain focus and make its carrier spiritually aware, which they say is a characteristic which aides in restful and productive sleep. Amethyst is used to calm the stressed and provide sound sleep for the overworked and overwhelmed.

Amethyst and Dreams
The evening is the time most representative of sleep and dream and according to crystal healers, the violet of amethyst is representative of the dusk-colored sky and the transition between night and day and between physical conscious and unconsciousness. In their belief system, the physical and mental calming attributes of Amethyst contribute to soothing the transition between wake and sleep to fight sleeplessness. Amethyst, therefore, soothes the process of slipping into a dream state. Its calming power also allows for the eradication and protection against nightmares and disturbed sleep. Amethyst stabilizes the connection to the ethereal. Many crystal healers use amethyst to help others (and themselves) to engage in inspired dreaming, which inhibit dreams that foretell some sort of life truth about the dreamer. Amethyst has also shown its effectiveness for accessing the source of knowledge unattainable by conventional means. This resting quality allows for the growth of one's intuition and psychic development.

Amethyst and Sleep
Those involved in crystal magic say the transitional aspect of the gemstone amethyst's healing allows for a peaceful sleep as the amethyst radiation eases the passage from the physically conscious mind to the unconscious. The energies focused upon the reality we know to be physically visible, begin to switch over to those which are visible through intellect. Amethyst is known as a great asset in meditation and its ability to maintain peaceful energy during rest from rigorous mental activity carries over as a sleep aide to reduce tossing and turning and for stress relief. It, therefore, bridges the gap between ordinary and more complex forms of consciousness. Some have said it may even aid in reducing snoring.

Physical tension can be eased with a massage or warm bath with aromatherapy oils. Lavender and sage help headaches and muscular soreness, while chamomile will help with stress. You can also burn candles, buy pillows and take tinctures with the same herbs as they are known to relax you enough to aid in falling asleep faster.

If you take a tincture or decaffeinated tea prior to bedtime but find that you want a snack keep it light as a lot of food and liquid can cause indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux and the need to go to the bathroom during the night. It is best to just have a slice of turkey, hardboiled egg, small bowl of cereal or some nuts or seeds as these foods contain tryptophan that will make you feel lethargic. Don’t like tea? Drink some warm milk, it not only contains tryptophan but peptides that calm the system.

Exercise will help you to become tired faster because you are physically exhausted. Try to exercise at least 3 hours prior to retiring to give your body enough time to cool down and lower your heart rate. Some yoga techniques prior to bed can help your body to stretch and relax.

8-Minute Workout: Yoga for Better Sleep

• Upside-Down Relaxation
• Winding Down Twist
• Nighttime Goddess Stretch
• Child's Pose
• Rock-a-Bye Roll

Try this 5-move yoga routine to relax your body and mind before sleep. The best part? Each pose can be done in bed!

Upside-Down Relaxation
Forget counting sheep. Ease your way into dreamland with this five-move yoga routine from Edward Vilga, creator of the DVD Yoga in Bed: 20 Asanas to Do in Pajamas (yogainbeddvd.com, $19.95). The moves will relax your body and mind, but the best part is that you can do them all in bed!

• Sit facing a wall (or your headboard) with your butt about 6 inches away from it.
• Lie back and extend your legs up the wall.
• If this is too intense a stretch for your hamstrings, slide your butt farther away from the wall.
• If it's not enough, scoot closer.
• Let your arms rest by your sides, palms facing up, and breathe gently, feeling the stretch in the backs of your legs.

3 Instant Remedies:
Establish a sleep routine: go to bed and get up at the same time.
Deep breathing exercise
Tighten and relax your muscles extremities

If you can’t get to sleep …get up for 20 minutes or so before trying to fall asleep again. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol, smoke, watch a horror flick or play videos as these will stimulate your brain instead of calming you.

Another thing if you love to nap, try a “power nap” of not more than 20-30 minutes and not after 4pm as anything longer or later might interrupt your needed 7 hours of sleep at night. If you find you are having additional health issues or want to take any over-the-counter medications/supplements contact your doctor as he may recommend dosage and advice on interactions with other drugs or health problems.

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