SLEEP – What it is; How do we get it
All of us know what sleep is and we know how it feels; however, while much progress has been made by sleep scientists, the essential nature of sleep still remains unknown. Approximately 60 million Americans suffer each year from some form of sleep deprivation. While research continues, sleep still remains one of the body’s most mysterious processes. We do know that sleep is absolutely necessary for survival. The lack of sleep for millions of people worldwide is not only a major medical concern, but a major big business. Even occasional sleeping problems can make daily life feel more stressful or cause you to be less productive. Sleep loss affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity and impairs the body’s ability to use insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes. Lack of sleep affects one’s capacity to perform tasks involving memory, learning, and logical reasoning, and shows a direct correlation with disease. It is paramount that we discover more about this activity where we spend a third of our lives – sleeping.
Until sleep scientists and researchers come up with better answers and solutions, countless prescription and non-prescription drugs, herbs, remedies, technologies, etc., are the regimen for many. To help achieve a good night’s sleep the more natural way, numerous tips have been cited in almost every form of advertisement available. Although you have probably tried many of them, one of the following tips might just be the one that will help you get a healthier, more natural night’s rest. They are intended for the average adult, but not necessarily for children or persons experiencing medical problems:
- Imaging – think of a hammock – you’re up off the ground, wrapped in a cocoon of comfort, swaying gently in the open air. The sun is warm on your face & there’s a breeze blowing you back & forth. This visualization helps you “see” what sleep’s reward will be, getting you more in the mood to sleep. Visualization has proved helpful in developing the appropriate brain wave patterns for sleep.
- Magnesium – has a calming effect on the nervous system. It is part of bones & cells, especially the smooth cells of arteries, & assists in the absorption of calcium & potassium. Over 300 enzymes need magnesium to function properly. When combined with B6, it helps to reduce & dissolve calcium phosphate stones. It is so important, that the brain stores a “safety supply” to have in the event of a drop in the magnesium reserves. We like the powdered effervescent magnesium found at most health food stores, called CALM.
- Nutmeg – grind fresh nutmeg & serve it with warm, organic, preferably raw or unpasturized milk & honey. Milk is naturally high in calcium & rich in tryptophan; together they can be a powerful tranquilizer.
- Hot foot baths – in the East, a hot foot bath is a traditional remedy; it draws blood from the brain to calm a racing mind. Try soaking your feet in a hot foot bath with a cupful of Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender essential oil, which will soothe you. Your feet absorb the magnesium from the Epsom salts and relax you further.
- Toe wiggling – lie on your back & wiggle your toes up & down 12 times; do both feet at the same time. Your entire body relaxes. According to the science of Reflexology, your feet are a kind of master control panel for the rest of your body. “Meridians” in the body – those channels of energy treated by acupuncture – end up in the feet. So, the end of those meridians in your feet connect with every organ & every part of your entire body.
- Stomach rub – soothes down the digestive system & helps bring about a deeper relaxation. Lie on your back & place your hand on your navel. Begin to make small circles in a clockwise direction as you gently glide your hand over your stomach. Let your circles gradually become bigger & bigger. When your circles reach the outside of your stomach, gradually reduce their size until you are back at your navel again. Reverse the direction; repeat the whole series with your other hand, & do several times.
- Listening to an audiobook – the brain works like a tape player – with one main auditory loop that processes words. If you fill that loop with an interesting book, there’s no room for your own worrisome internal narrative. Especially helpful for those who have continuous thoughts running through their heads.