Stan was a CEO at a large corporation in the city. I asked him, “How do you manage to sleep with all that pressure on your shoulders?” He shared with me that he used to have terrible insomnia. “I discovered a technique to allow me to leave it all at the office. When I’m ready to sleep I imagine myself walking down a long hallway with open doors along each side, each door representing an upcoming task and decision. As I walk down the hallway, I close each door along the way until I come to the end. My mind accepts this as a way to close my thoughts about work. My mind becomes quiet and I sleep.”

Sleep is vital to your well-being.  Lack of sleep affects your ability to think; it affects your digestion, your heart, and your ability to fight off infections, your outlook and your memory. Studies show that obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol are more prevalent among irregular sleepers. Lack of sleep results in injuries, car accidents, and falls because you are just not alert enough to notice the curb or the stop sign. If you are trying to lose weight, how frustrating when you do everything right, cut down on the sugar, exercise rigorously and follow the prescribed meal plan and you still can’t lose. 

 Maybe you are not sleeping.

Seven to eight hours of sleep is critical to your quest for better health, better stamina, and stronger lungs!

Having trouble? Try some of these strategies:

Be sure to go to bed and get up each day at the same time. And be sure to get at least a couple of hours of sunlight into your daytime routine. Your natural circadian rhythm responds to regularity and day-time-night-time routines.

Try to avoid the blue light interference from computers, TVs and smart phones at least during the two hours before you plan to sleep. 

A cool dark bedroom is the most conducive to falling asleep naturally.

Of course, caffeine and alcohol can affect your sleep patterns so it’s better if you avoid these in the evening hours.

Organize your thoughts and your schedule for the following day before settling in and then maybe try sipping a cup of chamomile tea or a glass of tart cherry juice while reading a good book or while journaling your thoughts of the day. Rub some lavender oil on your feet or on your hands.

Agitated? Is your mind filled with thoughts, worries, agendas, regrets? Try the tighten and release strategy from your toes to your scalp. With each part of your body, starting with your toes, then your foot, your lower leg, your thighs, your back, your belly, your shoulders, hands, arms neck, face scalp tighten for a count of ten and release, letting those muscles relax. Finally, tighten your whole body, then relax. This can release that tension that you have been holding in all day. 

Still having trouble? Try the 5-5-5-5 box breath technique. Breathe in for the count of five, hold for the count of five, breathe out for the count of five, hold for a count of five. The focus on your breath distracts your brain.

There are some music tracks of ambient natural sounds that can lull people to sleep; sounds of the ocean surf, soft rain falling, or maybe a rippling brook with birdsong in the background. One troubled soul finally discovered a series of breathing sounds to follow that allowed him to drift off contentedly. 

And before slumbering down, remember the three best happenings of the day and feel grateful.