Getting enough truly restful sleep is one of the most biggest factors in staying healthy and balanced, mentally and physically. Actually sleeping enough is much easier said than done for a lot of people, though. Our busy lives can prevent us from placing a premium on sleep, and anxiety and a restless mind are commonly linked to poor sleep as well as sleep apnea.
These three suggestions for getting better sleep draw from yogic philosophy and the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupressure. Each step is a way to calm the mind, slow down the thoughts and foster a more intentional transition to sleep at the end of each day.
1. Legs up the wall pose.
This is a very simple, restorative yoga pose that can be done anywhere you have a blank wall space. To get into the pose, sit down on the floor with one hip as close to the wall as possible. From there, lie down on your back and swing your legs above your hips, so they are supported vertically by the wall and your head is away from the wall, facing the center of the room.
Stay in this pose for as long as feels supportive, anywhere from one to 15 minutes. While you’re here, try to breathe deeply and relax into the posture. Laying with your feet above your head eases the effects of gravity on tired muscles and joints, can help lower blood pressure by increasing the flow of blood toward the heart, and signals to your body that it’s okay to fully relax. Your body also will digest all the food in your system in this position, which can also support you in getting more restful sleep.
2. Equal part breath
Equal part breath, also known as sama vritti pranayama, is a simple, calming breath practice that you will feel the effects of even if you do it for just two minutes before bed.
Sit in a comfortable position where your spine is straight above your hips. It can be helpful to prop your hips up on a blanket or pillow in this pose. You can rest your hands in your lap or anywhere that feels comfortable. Start to inhale for a count of four and then exhale for a count of four. Repeat this a few times, inhaling and exhaling for the same length of time. Then, increase the breath to a count of five. After a few rounds, you can increase to a count of six. Once you have reached a length that feels both deeper than how you normally breathe, but also sustainable, maintain that breath for as long as you want.
3. Spirit Gate acupressure point
This acupressure point is located on the inside of your wrist, in the crease directly below your pinky finger. This point is often used to alleviate stress, over-excitement, anxiety or cold-sweats, all of which can contribute to insomnia or sleep apnea.
Apply mild pressure to the point on your right wrist for one minute and then switch to the left. You can do this before bed, lying in bed before you fall asleep or in the middle of the night to support yourself in falling back to sleep
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.