by Jane Barthelemy. We live in stressful times. Good sleep is the foundation of your health. Lack of sleep can literally drive you insane. Poor sleep weakens your immune system, increasing your risk of all disease. It is said that 10% of Americans take sleep meds. Prescription drugs for insomnia are dangerously addictive, yet over 60 million Americans rely on them. Sleep meds are no substitute for the real thing. Here are my favorite natural solutions to help you get the beauty rest you deserve every night.
For Executives Only:
Insomnia means your body is out of balance. Until you address and correct it, you will suffer poor sleep. I study insomniacs, and I know you. You are like me – you believe you have tried everything, and nothing can help you sleep. Yet I am telling you that one of these solutions is perfect for you. When your problem is painful enough to change your fixed mindset, like me, you will cure your insomnia. The three keys are: 1) Balance your body-mind-spirit. 2) Follow the Chinese clock 3) Prepare for good sleep. Every person is different. One or more of these secret tools is waiting for you. All of them will help you live a long and prosperous life.
Balance Your Yin and Yang Meridians
Traditional Chinese medicine sees sleep as the natural rhythm of Yin and Yang. Our bodies are intimately connected to the rising and falling rhythms in cycles of the day, moon cycles, and seasons. Sleeping recharges the body and harmonizes your meridians. Insomnia is a sign that Yang and Yin are out of balance. Therefore it is essential for us to rebalance Yin and Yang in the body every day.
Some experts believe we should spend a third of our lives sleeping, one third working, and one third in leisure. Scientists hold we need to have six 45-minute cycles of sleep, alternating between REM (rapid eye movement) dream sleep and non-REM dreamless sleep every night. Growth hormone that is generated in deep dreamless sleep is said to help repair the body. Western science has found that the release of Growth Hormone GH is greatly enhanced during sleep, and that it occurs between 9 pm and 7 am, making this the ideal sleeping period. But even with all our modern ways to measure REM’s and hormone secretions, the essential qualities of sleep remain misunderstood.
What is Sleep?
The Spiritual Dimension of Sleep. Most people don’t even ask themselves: What is Sleep? What is the meaning and purpose of sleep in our lives? Sleep is not simply the absence of waking. When we study brain wave cycles, we see that accomplished meditators can demonstrate brainwave activity that is surprisingly similar to deep sleep, during the waking hours of the day. These people are calm and unflappable, yet fully awake. At the other extreme we see people walking around that seem almost totally asleep. Perhaps we need to think of sleep as not the absence of waking, but rather a different kind of experience in its own right. Sleep delivers something important. Good sleep is connected to self love and universal oneness. When the body and spirit are aligned, good sleep is possible. When body and spirit are mis-aligned, good sleep is unlikely.
Sleep takes us to another place in consciousness. Sleep is an essential experience in itself. In ancient Taoism, the organs are believed to have a unique quality or spirit; and the spirits of all the organs work together. For example, the liver spirit is called “Hun”. This is a subtle, unembodied, aspect of our human soul. Further, is said that the “Hun” is fond of leaving the body to wander out in the etheric world during sleep. This is particularly interesting since my own sleep patterns and dreams are quite difficult to describe in words. Maybe “sleep” is a time when we can actually move out into the everyday world and heal on deeper levels in the larger universe. I don’t know. However, I understand that in order to cultivate our spiritual capacity, we must respect our relationship to Nature, and maintain a natural balance in body, mind, and spirit.
What Causes Insomnia?
Myriad Causes of Insomnia:
Stress, Coffee, Overthinking, Trauma, Emotions, Hormones, Drugs, Smoking, Alcohol, Food Allergies, Nutrient Deficiencies, Nervous system on overload, WiFi, cell phone emissions, nearby routers, EMF’s, electronic stimulation, lights in the bedroom, Synthetic fabric in sheets or nightwear, Dryness in the air, Cold top of head (Bai hui), late eating, poor digestion, poor food combining, poor or superficial breathing, not having processed your day. Any one of these factors could keep you wide awake at night.
In Chinese medicine, sleep is related to the daily rhythms and the 24 hour organ clock. The spirit of the Heart is called the Shen, which allows an individual to be conscious of his or her self. The Shen also controls sleep. The Shen stays quietly inside the organs at night to recharge. during the day it comes out to carry out its work responsibilities. Sometimes sleep problems occur when the Shen gets over excited, for example during periods of change or emotional upheaval.
Here are some natural solutions for a good night’s sleep. Insomnia is not a single malady. There’s no standard treatment for insomnia in Chinese Medicine, because it can manifest in many ways. Each type of insomnia is treated differently in Chinese medicine. Insomnia can show up as difficulty falling asleep, or frequent waking during the night. It can be caused by anxiety and irritability in Liver Qi. It may be related to procrastination, worry, gut imbalance, nighttime digestion, and the spleen or stomach meridian. Chronic insomnia can be caused by a restless spirit, or a poor communication between the heart and kidney. Insomnia may manifest as nightmares and dream-disturbed sleep, which are treated through the spleen and heart. One of the best secrets is to prepare for sleep, just like you would prepare for any important activity in your day.
Good sleep is connected to self love and universal oneness. When the body and spirit are aligned, good sleep is possible. When body and spirit are mis-aligned, good sleep is unlikely.
What’s Your Ideal Bedtime?
Traditional Chinese Medicine says we should follow the 24 hour Chinese clock. (See image below) We follow the Sun. Therefore the best time for bed on the Chinese Clock is from 10 to 10:30. That’s because Liver repair time is from 11 pm to 1 am. The liver has much to process. If you aren’t asleep by 11, you could be losing valuable healing time.
Your Optimum Eat-Sleep Schedule by the Chinese Clock:
- 5 – 7 am – Wake up, move bowels, meditate
- 7 – 9 am – Walk 15 minutes outside before breakfast, this jump-starts your metabolism for healthy weight.
- 7 – 9 am – Eat a big breakfast. Start your day with long-lasting fuel
- 11 am – 1 pm – Eat a medium lunch, your big meal of the day, vegetables and some protein. Carbs are ok.
- 5 – 7 pm – Eat a light dinner of NO carbs, and do not eat again until breakfast. Begin to settle down.
- 10 pm – Go to sleep.
Natural Solutions for a Good Night’s Sleep
Hint: You must prepare for sleep, just as you would prepare for any important activity in your day:
- Think: What are you procrastinating? What are you avoiding? It could be something simple like a bill to pay. But it is more likely something deeper, like you’re avoiding something in your true nature that you must face to stay on your highest path. Meditate and look deeply internally and ask. Consult a psychic if necessary. Ask an oracle. Be open to making a turn in your path.
- Turn off electronics: WiFi off, put away your cell phone, computer, and TV at least 2 hours before bed.
- Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing – Nadi Shodhana is a type of Pranayama that helps to calm the nervous system whenever you feel stress or any discomfort relating to apprehension or fear. Use 4 counts inhale and 6-8 counts exhale, as is comfortable. Make sure you use a longer count for exhale than inhale, in order to invite a deep relaxation response. Click for complete instructions
- Practice my Six-Step Meditation to calm the body, mind and spirit.
- Listen to nature sounds before bed. Falling rain is often a good sound to fall asleep to.
- If you get up at night to go to the bathroom, don’t flip on lights. Let your eyes adjust to the dark.
- Bring closure to your day. Meditate on what happened. Use a meditation or prayer to help digest your life’s experiences. Thank each person your encountered. Then bring your energy back home to your heart’s private space.
- Release negative psychic tensions. Brush them off your arms and shoulders. Or hang your arms to the side and ask to release negative tensions. You might feel heavy stuff flowing out your underarms to your hands, and shake it off.
- Give your thoughts and worries away. Give them away to the Earth or to God or your favorite Source. Just give them up completely. You don’t need to carry the emotions of others, the desires of your family, or the troubles of the world to bed with you. Don’t take these heavy weights to bed, as if you could digest them in your sleep. Process your day before bed as much as possible. Then give yourself over to spiritual deep sleep.
- Try a tablespoon of raw honey before bed.
- Dim the room lights when darkness falls.
- Drink a calming tea, such as Chrysanthemum tea, Chamomile, Ashtanga Tea, or Lemon Balm.
- Take a warm bath before bed. Add a soothing ingredient like lavender oil, baking soda, or Epsom salts.
- Read your favorite poetry book.
- Avoid hot peppers, alcohol, or coffee late in the day, which over-stimulate the nervous system and challenge the liver.
- Block out all the light in your bedroom. Wear a sleep hat that covers your eyes, or a blindfold.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool. It should be no higher than 68 degrees F.
- Meditate before bed to calm your system. Relax the three centers: body, mind, and breathing.
- Eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime, so you go to bed with an empty stomach. Nighttime digestion robs the body of needed deep sleep.
- If hunger keeps you awake, try a light snack such as like fruit. Not heavy food.
- Practice Shivasana Yoga: Lie down and consciously relax every part of your body with your mind. Move your attention slowly one step at a time through each body area from head to foot.
- During the day, some vigorous exercise or work-out will help ensure you better sleep at night. It balances the Yang and Yin.
- Try a brief foot massage before bed for deep sleep.
Soak the feet in warm water for ten minutes, Add soothing coconut oil or sesame oil.
Then massage these points:
– Massage K6 Zhao Hai inside of leg below ankle bones (left)
– Massage Bubbling Springs K-1 Yong Quan center feet (right)
– Keep the very top of the head warm GV-20 Bai Hui
– In the morning, go out in bright sunlight (Yang).
According to ancient Chinese medicine, walking is the best exercise to activate and stimulate the meridians. Simply walking outside for 15 -60 minutes a day can re-set your whole meridian system. It stimulates the body’s own balancing system. How does this work? Walking brings Earth Energy up through the legs, up through the body and into the brain. Yes, the brain. From there, it vitalizes and relaxes every organ and body function. When you walk in the morning, the daylight enters your eyes, re-setting your body clock for the day. It jump-starts your metabolism for the day, and supports your natural bio-rhythms. It stimulates healthy endocrine function and promotes healthy weight. Maybe you won’t even need coffee.
24. Walk outside in the morning light.
There are two extraordinary meridians that play an important role in the sleep cycle. The Yin Qiao Mai and Yang Qiao Mai support and reinforce the 12 organ meridians. Even better, they stimulate the flow of Qi up from the Earth to the inner canthus (inner corner) of the eyes, and to the brain. Why is this important? This fills the body with nourishing Earth energy and sets the daily biorhythms. It adjusts the light-sensitivity of the eyes, establishing rhythmic patterns of day and night. This builds strong protective Wei Qi, to defend the body from pathogens and negative energies. It stimulates healthy brain function. These 2 meridians do all this work only through our movement of walking. Walking! This simple exercise of walking in the morning light each day is one of the most effective cures for insomnia and other maladies.
25. Oxygenate Your Blood with Deep Slow Breathing in Yoga, Qigong, or Pranayama
Clinical studies by Russian physicians show that how you breathe directly affects your oxygen levels. This in turn affects how long it takes to fall asleep, your depth of sleep, how much sleep is needed, and your level of health. Because of our hectic pace of life, most modern people take quick, superficial breaths. therefore they sleep poorly. Russian studies compared breathing patterns of Yoga masters with normal people and sick people. They found that the length of your breath can indicate your level of health and how much sleep you need. The best ways to lengthen your breath are to practice Yoga, Qigong, and Pranayama. Especially before bed. Slower breathing is a sign of efficient lungs, good health, and deep sleep will result.
The Chinese Meridian Clock is a guide to long life, body balance, and to slow aging. It indicates the best time for work, movement, meals, and sleep.
Why follow meridian cycles through the day?
Meridian cycles energize the body. They move UP and DOWN to activate the organs in a specific order. This organ pattern harmonizes with the Earth’s magnetic fields. When we follow it in our daily schedule of eating, walking, working, sleeping, we will feel stronger and more balanced. Your body is not a haphazard collection of parts. It’s a very brilliant energy tool that constantly integrates your health to your environment. See image below:
26. Natural Supplements:
If these self-healing methods don’t give you great Z’s, consider a natural supplement: Zinc, Vitamin B-12, Valerian, Hops, Melatonin, L-Tryptophan, 5-HTP 5-Hydroxytryptophan, or Lavender Aromatherapy.
27. When all else fails and you want professional help, look for these natural healing practices: Acupuncture, Hypnosis, Homeopathy, BioFeedback, and Brain music.
“But Pooh couldn’t sleep. The more he tried to sleep the more he couldn’t.
He tried counting sheep, which is sometimes a good way of getting to sleep.
As that was no good, he tried counting Heffalumps.
And that was worse.
Because every Heffalump that he counted was making straight for a pot of Pooh’s honey, and eating it all.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh