Simple Tips to get Sweeter Sleep!

Wellness Concept

Simple Tips to get sweeter sleep!

From the Healing Bridge Physical Therapy

May 2010 Wellness Notes

By Allison Suran PT, GCFP

Founder, Healing Bridge Physical Therapy

Did you know that over 50% of American’s do not get enough sleep? Did you know that sleep is necessary for healthy tissues, mental clarity, and weight management? Did you know that people who get 7 or more hours of sleep per night live longer than those who get less?

Many people are challenged at finding that restful, peaceful night’s sleep because they either have difficulty quieting their mind at bedtime, or they awaken in the middle of the night and have difficulty returning to sleep. Help is on the way. One of the biggest reasons we have difficulty turning the mind “off” at night, is because we have much more practice turning it “on,” keeping it “on,” and pushing the mind to stay “on” long past it’s limits. What most of us need is practice turning it “off,” or at least learning to press the “pause button.”

If you are serious about improving your nighttime sleep, I recommend you find a relaxation practice to do for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per day. For many, 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per day can seem daunting. It may sound simple, but in my experience it is not easy to stop and practice pausing. So, even if you can only do a few minutes, and even if you can only accomplish this 1-2 times per day, it’s a wonderful start. Just think how much better your days could be if your sleep was improved.

In “exercising” your ability to pause and stop the busy-ness of your mind, you will have better access to quieting it down at night. All of these techniques can also be used to help distract you from your thoughts at night and you will find that you will fall asleep sooner and with very little effort.These simple tips are designed to be practiced during the daytime, so that you will be able to access the “off” switch at night.

1 5 times per day, pause, and just count the next 5 breaths

2 Just Breathe: Sit down two to three times per day, and do nothing. While you are sitting, use your attention to follow the rhythm of your breath. Sometimes it seems fast, sometimes slower. You might notice that the length of the inhalation and exhalation may be different. Allow yourself to be curious and interested and absorbed in the act of breathing for just 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per day.

3 Thumbs on the Belly: Sitting or Lying start with “just breathing” from above. Place your hands lightly on your lower belly. Let your thumbs follow the rising and lowering of your abdomen as you inhale and exhale. Follow the rhythm. Then very VERY lightly and gently, begin to press one of your thumbs into your belly during the exhalation and release the pressure during the inhalation. Keep the pressure so light that it barely makes an indent into your belly. Take 3-5 breaths with the thumb pressure during the exhalation, then 3-5 breaths without. You can alternate your right and left thumbs if you choose – this is optional. Be creative with this technique. It does not need to stay exactly like how I’ve described it. You can even change it around and lift your thumb (very very lightly) during the inhalation instead of pressing it during the exhalation. The idea is to give your mind something other than your thoughts to focus on, by bringing your attention to the breath.

Sweet dreams!

Allison Suran has been enrolled in the Sounder Sleep Program® since October 2009. She will have her Sounder Sleep Teachers Certification the Summer of 2010. If you’re interested in learning more, Allison will begin teaching classes to improve your sleep and learn more sleep inducing techniques continuing this year at Healing Bridge Physical Therapy.