5 Self-Help Techniques To Sleep Well

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Are you having a hard time to sleep? Here are five self-help sleeping techniques that you can try.

These are color therapy, physical activity, relaxation through meditation, simple respiration through breathing and relaxing and of course through music and sound.

Color Therapy

Using color therapy, or “chromotherapy”, is a unique way to treat a variety of ailments, including, but not limited to, sleep problems.

Chromatherapy involves being exposed to color in various ways.  Being shown colored lights, visualizing and meditating on a color, being massaged with colored oils, and wearing specific colors can help treat both physically and emotionally caused sleep problems.

Chromatherapy has a long history.  Ancient Indian beliefs practiced chromotherapy in Ayurvedic medicine, where it was believed that colors corresponded to parts of the body, emotions and spiritual aspects of life.

They believed that each of the chakras, areas of energy in the body, linked to a color.

Ancient Egyptians used chromotherapy by breaking up the sunlight with specially created lenses.  They built solariums where they practiced chromotherapy.

Chromatherapy, as we know it was developed in the late 1600’s when scientist Sir Isaac Newton proved that light is a mixture of color from the full range of color we can see.

color therapy

Modern-day color therapy came about when Dr. Edwin D. Babbitt penned his Principles of Light and Color.  In this publication he outlined how color therapy could be used to treat a variety of maladies, include sleep difficulties.

The 1940’s were a time of experimentation with color therapy.  During this time, Russian scientist S.V. Krakov experimented with chromotherapy and determined that when he separated light spectrum’s wavelengths it had an impact on the nervous system.

For example, he found that red light increased blood pressure and impacted the adrenal glands.  White light and blue light were found to be relaxing.  This groundbreaking information is still used today by color therapy practitioners.

How does it color therapy work?

Color is a part of what makes up light, and light has many different energy waves.  When light enters the retina of the eye, it touches the photoreceptor cells in the eye.

The photoreceptors turn the light into electrical impulses, which signal the brain to release hormones.

By controlling the release of hormones, chromotherapy can be used to treat insomnia and other sleep-related difficulties.

In a time when alternative medicine is becoming more popular, Chromatherapy is actively being used by the medical community to treat disorders such as depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Some types of color therapy should only be practiced by trained professionals.  However, there are color therapy techniques that can be practiced safely at home.

To try chromotherapy on your own, follow these tips.  Select hues to wear based on your recommended color. When eating, choose foods that are a particular color. Spend time visualizing a recommended color.

Be aware of the following potential concerns:

  • Never replace traditional care with chromotherapy for severe insomnia.
  • Epileptics should avoid looking directly at any type of flashing lights.
  • When using colored lights, do not look directly into the light.  Receive colored light therapy indirectly by looking at an object that is lit by the colored light.
  • If you are on prescription medication, check the label for a light sensitivity side effect.  Exposure to bright light might cause a problem.

physical activities

Physical Activity

Getting exercise during the day is an important factor in how well you sleep at night. If you are physically active during the day, your body will be able to relax and fall asleep easier.

Exercise helps your body deal with daily stress and anxiety.

It impacts the chemicals in your brain, and how much you exercise is directly linked to your physical and emotional health.

Regular exercise will help you fall asleep and maintain a sleep state because your sleep cycles become more consistent and the transition between them becomes more seamless.  Try to work exercise into your life daily to avoid sleeplessness.

When getting physical activity, plan to exercise more than 3-4 hours before bedtime. For the best sleep benefit, be physically active in the late afternoon or early evening.

Try to be physically active for at least 20-30 minutes a day, 3-4 times per week. 

Aerobic activities usually work best to remedy insomnia, and activities can range from an easy walk to a rigorous run.

By making your heart rate go up, improving your lung capacity, and adding oxygen into your blood, your body will be in better health and you’ll be on your way to naturally correcting your sleep problem.

In addition to aerobic exercise, there are other types of physical activity you can do to fight sleeplessness. Consider yoga or Tai Chi.  Yoga affects the brain and core muscles and improves blood circulation.

Using yogic breathing techniques will help you relax and live with less stress. 

Tai Chi incorporates breathing with body movements in a slow-moving style that is perfect for individuals with joint pain or other issues that keep you from high-impact exercise.

If adding 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule is too tough, try adding small blocks of physical activity.

Making small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or purposely parking further away from your destination will help you live a healthy, energetic life.

meditation

Relaxation through Meditation

It only stands to reason that the more relaxed you are the more likely you are to fall asleep and maintain a satisfactory sleep state.

It’s essential to quiet your mind in order to fall asleep quickly. By using meditation you can stop thinking, worrying, or whatever else is going through your head.

There are several different meditation and visualization methods that will help you relax.  Try one of these meditation styles:

1. Focal point method

Select a focal point, whether it is a mantra, visual point, or even your own breathing. A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated either in your mind or out loud to help you focus on meditating.

The use of a mantra or other focal point will help keep you on track and keep your mind from wandering.

You need to be disciplined to practice this method of meditation because thoughts will come into your head and you will be tempted to think about other things. This method will become easier the more you practice it.

2. Breathing-focused meditation

Find a comfortable, quiet space and sit on the floor, using a cushion if so desired. Sitting with your hands in your lap, calm your body and close your eyes.

Breathe in and out through your nose.  Make an effort to concentrate on your breathing, counting each breath in and out until you reach ten.

Continue counting in groups of ten until you begin to feel relaxed.  Empty your mind of everything and concentrate only on counting as you inhale and exhale.

If thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge that they are there and let them go, again focusing on your breath.  When you have finished meditating, become aware of your body once more and stretch before getting up.

3. Guided imagery  

This method combines visualization with meditation and hypnosis.  This type of meditation is guided, and you are led to visualize relaxation, which helps you feel relaxed.

Find a place that is quiet and dimly lit.  Using an MP3 player, play a pre-recorded imagery recording.  Guided imagery usually starts with deep breathing and other deep breathing exercises.

When you relax, your imagination comes alive and the recording will guide you through a variety of scenes, using your imagination to help you find peacefulness and relaxation.

Common guided imagery scenarios include beachside strolls, mountain hikes, or nature walks through the forest.  At the end of your guided imagery session, you should feel calm and relaxed.

The aforementioned meditation methods are only a sampling of the wide array of choices available.  Experiment with these, and research others, to find one that helps you fight insomnia.

Simple Respiration: Breathing and Relaxing

Breathing is the simplest and easiest way to find complete relaxation and stress reduction.  The more deeply you breathe, the more serene you will become.

These relaxation tips will help your body wind down and get ready for sleep.

When you first get into bed:

Lie down and breathe deeply through your nose.  Imagine the air moving into your stomach.  On your next inhale, breathe in for four counts.  Exhale slowly through your pursed lips, while counting to eight.

You will feel the tension leave your body with every exhale. Repeat this technique six to ten times for immediate relaxation. Practice deep breathing daily to develop a healthy habit of regular relaxation.  Calming your mind will help you fall asleep.

Before going to bed try this relaxation technique:

Lie down with your back to the floor and your arms at your side, palms facing upward.  Your feet should be comfortably apart. With your eyes closed, mentally concentrate on each part of your body, tensing then releasing each group of muscles.

Starting at the top of your head, release tension as you move slowly down your body.  Feel your forehead, eyes and mouth.

Work through your shoulders, neck, and back. Move down to your toes, then bask in the relaxed state you have achieved.  Focus on your breathing, making sure breath is coming from your stomach.

Breathe deeply and slowly, letting go of all your concerns and stress.  When your body knows it’s okay to let go of your worries and stressors, you’ll be able to go to sleep naturally.

There are many other techniques for breathing and relaxation.  Through your own experimentation and practice, you can find one that works well for you.

music induction

Music and Sounds for Sleep Induction

Using noise as a tool to help fall asleep has been done since the beginning of time.  The earliest form of this technique is the lullaby, which has successful soothed even the most colicky baby.

There are many iPod, mp3 players and sound devices on the market today that is designed to have the same effect as a mother singing or humming a child to sleep.

Here are a few suggestions:

arrow1Relaxing classical music files are a wonderful way to relax and put your mind at ease.

Look for “Baroque Music” by Mozart, “Lullaby” by Brahms, and “Waltzes” by Strauss.  This is only a small sampling of the many, selections available.

arrow1Try something soothing and modern.

Ambient Electronica, which is also called “downtempo” and “chillout”, is a great way to unwind.

Gently mixing an ongoing techno-style beat, a taste of house-style music for irregular progressions, and unique rhythms, Ambient Electronica has soft melodies and calming sound effects.

A few good choices to try are Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, The Orb, and Future Sound of London.

arrow1When trying New Age or Tribal music there are many recordings to choose from.

The sound of this style is similar to Ambient Electronica, but unique non-electronic instruments like the harpsichord, chimes, bells, and didgeridoos are used.

The beat is often similar to that of a drum circle and sometimes involves guttural throat sounds and chants.

arrow1If you’d prefer to stay away from music, there is always non-musical sound effect sound devices.

These often feature babbling brooks, waves, rain, whale songs, waterfalls, and other sounds found in nature.

If you are a city dweller that is having trouble sleeping because it is too quiet, there are recordings of city noises such as fire engines, traffic, and airplanes just for you.

arrow1Sound machines are widely available and can be found at many different price points.

Usually about the size of an alarm clock, they typically come with a selection of sounds to pick from.  You can select how the recordings play, either as an ongoing loop or for a preset length of time.

You can select how the recordings play, either as an ongoing loop or for a preset length of time.  Some sound machines are even built into alarm clocks, and can be used to gently awaken you.  When deciding which style of

When deciding which style of unit to purchase, keep in mind that the units that play synthesized sounds are best because they most closely imitate the natural sound.  The second choice is a sound device that only plays recorded samples.

The style of music that works best depends entirely on the individual. 

Some people respond better to non-linear music, while others find it easier to drift off to sleep with soothing percussion in the background.

Some prefer random beats and tempo, others like a constant pattern of music. Try several different types to find the style that you prefer.

An interesting note, music’s relationship with sleep is the current focus of a study conducted by the University of Toronto’s psychiatry department and Toronto Western Hospital.  In their sleep clinic, they are investigating “brain music”.

Brain music is EEG readings, converted to music via a computer program designed to compose customized music based on the EEG readings.  Each sleeper’s brain waves are watched and studied.

The scientists determine which rhythmic and tonal sounds the individual is most responsive to and they input it into a computer.

A computer program is used to develop a personalized “soundtrack” of music that will invoke the same brain wave patterns when the person is trying to fall asleep later.

There is evidence that shows this personalized method of music therapy is highly effective.

Obviously, researchers are very interested in pursuing this method of relaxation since it is typically effective and does not involve possibly habit-forming medication.

 


POINTS TO REMEMBER

5 Self-Help Sleeping Techniques

  • Color Therapy
  • Physical Activity
  • Relaxation Through Meditation
  • Simple Respiration: Breathing and Relaxing
  • Music and Sounds for Sleep Induction

TAKEAWAY QUESTIONS

– Are you having some difficulty sleeping at night?

– What are your measures for you to be able to sleep well?

– What sleeping techniques work best for you?

– What other relaxation strategies have you tried?


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