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10 Unconventional (But Great) Sleeping Tips You’ve Probably Never Heard

10 Unconventional (But Great) Sleeping Tips You’ve Probably Never Heard

Increasingly, science is showing that sleep is a basic building block for sustaining life and that sleep, like digestion, respiration and meaningful relationships, is one of the most important processes for the human body. During sleep the body heals, grows, and replenishes itself so that people can thrive with abundant, vibrant lives.

When we are children, sleep comes very naturally. The body demands it and it occurs. Children can sleep in almost any circumstance—driving in a car, with a TV on in the next room, with the dog barking. Children, teens and even young adults fall easily into sleep providing their circadian rhythm has not been disrupted. Unfortunately for adults, sleep is too often an elusive state that escapes us, causing a myriad of problems with health, happiness and productivity.

Sleep issues can arise for many different reasons, and for different reasons at different times in one’s life. Physical or emotional stress, changes in schedules and routines, dietary changes and disruptions to our natural circadian rhythm are the most common reasons that sleep problems arise. Unfortunately, when sleep problems do develop, they can become the norm rather than the exception for many people, and reversing these patterns takes some time and effort.

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Next time you’re struggling with sleep, experiment with any of the following 10 unconventional but great sleeping tips to determine what will work best for you:

1. Strategize Your Day Plan

Plan your day as closely as you can so that you follow the same pattern and routine each day. Although this may sound boring, as it lacks spontaneity, when it comes to improving your sleep, your body thrives on daily rhythms and schedules. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time and try to have your meals at the same time as well. This will allow your body, hormones and other brain chemicals to function optimally, and this will allow your body to produce the hormones needed to fall and stay asleep.

2. Move Your Body Daily

Exercise has numerous benefits, and research finds new benefits every day. Regular exercise improves heart health and blood pressure, builds bone and muscle, helps combat stress and muscle tension, improves mood, and improves sleep. Exercise helps you sleep sounder and longer and feel more awake during the day.

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When engaging in physical activity, it’s important that you choose activities that resonate with you and bring you happiness while participating. If you love dancing, try a Zumba class, if you like being outside, try running, cycling or skating. An additional benefit to exercising outside is exposure to sunshine. Twenty minutes per day of sunshine helps produce vitamin D, an important vitamin to your overall health and hormonal system. Also consider the time of day you are engaging in physical activity. Earlier in the day is better when it comes to sleep. Exercise excites the body and creates new energy, when you do this too close to bed time it could interfere with sleep.

3. Sleep Naked

The body naturally cools down as it produces melatonin and prepares the body for rest. Among other things, this process requires the body temperature to drop. When you sleep with heavy pajamas and blankets, the body has a difficult time lowering your temperature and this will wake you up. Try sleeping naked in good quality, comfortable sheets, and keep the temperature down in your bedroom.

4. Understand You Have a Circadian Rhythm

The body’s system and functions are based on rhythms. Humans have a circadian rhythm and a circannual rhythm. These rhythms control many things. The circadian rhythm—our daily time clock—is particularly important when it comes to sleep. Hormones provide signals to the body all day and all night long that control sleep and eating patterns. For this rhythm to function optimally, there are environmental components we can control to support this important process. When your sleep is compromised by work or stress, for example, you will lose this rhythm and re-establishing it can be difficult.

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5. Turn Off Your Screens

Your circadian rhythm is strongly signaled by light. The bright light of the morning produces certain hormones and signals and the darkness of the evening and night produce others. The access to 24-hour lighting has largely influenced our exposure to light and therefore our daily rhythms. The one key thing you can do is limit your exposure to light in the evening, particularly the light emitted by TVs and computers. The light produced by these devices significantly interferes with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone produced in the pituitary gland that signals sleep to the body. It’s crucial that the amount of light the body is exposed to decreases slowly over the course of the evening. Ideally, you would turn off all screens one to two hours before you’d like to sleep.

6. Do Something Relaxing

Avoid activity that is too stimulating in the evening. The brain is wired to respond to your physical and emotional needs at any time of day. When you engage in stimulating activity such as a dramatic TV program, a heated discussion with a family member, or work-related emailing, your brain’s awareness is heightened and bringing yourself down from that will take time. Avoid that by winding down. Have a cut-off time, perhaps one to two hours before bed, in which you will not engage in anything too stimulating. Make this a daily practice and tell the people you live with that it’s a goal you have. Try something relaxing like reading a book, meditation or gentle stretching.

7. Have Sex

After a day of work, commuting and children, the last thing many people want to consider is sex. But there are many health benefits to having sex, including better sleep. Weekday sex can be a simple quickie if time and energy are concerns, and that too will provide benefit. You’ll fall asleep faster after orgasm and there’s good reason for that. The hormone prolactin is released after orgasm. Prolactin is responsible for feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. As well, following orgasm, the body produces oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that reduces stress and helps us bond with others, so the benefit extends to your relationship and your overall health.

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8. Watch Your Food Intake

The body is sensitive to all of the things you do to it, expect of it and feel throughout the day. Food digestion is a key function of the body that influences many things, including sleep. Keep your consumption of caffeinated beverages, including coffee, to a minimum and consume them before 3 p.m. if possible. Caffeine is very stimulating and interferes with the hormones required to relax the body and produce sleep.

Also, consider the type of food you’re eating. Having simple carbs in the evening has a relaxing effect on many people and helps with relaxation and sleep. Keep in mind how close you’re eating to bedtime. Ideally, you should stop eating three hours before bed. Digestion requires a lot of energy and time. If the body is busy digesting your last meal, you will have problems falling and staying asleep. Give your body the break it needs during the night to heal and repair you by allowing it to be free of the job of digesting food.

9. Drink Calming Tea After A Warm Bath

Magnesium is a mineral responsible for many functions in the body. One of its most important functions is calming muscles. By adding magnesium to a warm bath with some essential oil, you will be able to relax and drift into a deep sleep. Having a cup of herbal tea in the evening is calming and when done regularly (like turning off screens, taking a bath or reading a book), functions as an important signal to the brain and body that time for rest is near, allowing the required systems to begin their work. Chamomile tea has long been thought to be a helpful sleep aid. There are many companies producing blends that help relax the body and aid with sleep.

10. Keep Your Room Dark

Even the smallest amount of light hitting the eyelid (some research says the size of a pinhole will do it) can interfere with the production of melatonin, which would result in poor quality sleep or lack of sleep. Keeping your room both dark and cool have been shown to be imperative in regulating sleep. Invest in blackout curtains to ensure that your room is dark all night. Turn off and block the light from all electronic appliances, such as clock radios and cell phones. Better yet, remove them from your bedroom if possible. If blocking out the light is problematic, purchase a soft eye-mask that you can wear comfortably throughout the night.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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