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Relaxing Natural Sleep Solutions

Sandra Prior
Sep 16, 2008
Once in a while, everyone has one of those nights where you finally fall into bed, exhausted after a seemingly endless day, yet somehow you just can't get to sleep - no matter how many sheep you count. Or you drift off, only to toss and turn until morning. Put these occasional sleep problems to bed with our relaxing, natural sleep solutions, designed to help the sandman work his magic.

Create a Sleep Ritual

If you're one of many people whose bedtime activities are dictated by TV, or how much work you've still got to get through, beware: Not only can this adversely affect how many hours of sleep you get, but also your ability to fall asleep in the first place.

Instead, try to go through the same motions every night before bed, and in doing so create a sleep ritual. This repetitive behavior causes the body to pre-empt what will happen in order to prepare for it. By preparing your body for sleep this ritual will make it easier for you to doze off and, depending on what's included, it can also improve the quality of your sleep. Some experts suggest that a wind down ritual, such as a warm bath, meditation, soft music or reading 30 minutes prior to bedtime will help you to sleep more soundly.

Here are some pleasurable ways to allow your body and mind to unwind before bed.

There's method behind the mind-numbing madness of imagining puffy white sheep hurling themselves over a picket fence. Techniques such as this one aim to steer your active mind away from the anxious thoughts that may be keeping it awake way past the witching hour.

Doing a simple breathing exercise, like this calming technique can also do the trick:

Place a thin pillow under your head and lie with your hands at your sides and your feet relaxed. Breathe in very deeply and slowly for a full count of three seconds. Hold that breath for five to six seconds, before exhaling slowly to the count of five or six.

While doing so, concentrate on letting the tension in your body slide away from your forehead, over the crown of your head, down your neck, back, spine and thighs. Then start again, letting the tension slide from your shoulders to the tips of your fingers and your knees all the way down to your toes, until you feel your muscles are completely relaxed. Repeat this exercise about 15 times, allowing the waves of relaxation to wash over you.

You could also load your CD changer with soft music, which will allow your brain to slip into the state of quiet wakefulness that facilitates sleep.

Soothe the Senses
Literally put the 'sweet' into sweet dreams by using some fragrant aromatherapy oils to usher you to the land of nod.

Aromatherapy is one of the most effective natural sleeping aids. The chemical composition of some essential oils acts on the nervous system, creating a relaxation response that induces sleep. And for this purpose we recommend jasmine, chamomile, lavender, benzoin or nutmeg oil.

However, when using these oils, remember that less is more - large quantities can have a stimulating effect, so even if you're creating a blend only use about four drops in total.

You can sprinkle these slumber-friendly oils onto a tissue, and tuck this into your pillow, or add four drops directly to your bath. The steam from the hot water will increase the evaporation and inhalation of the oils, enhancing their relaxing effect. Plus, simply wallowing in the warm water may help you to fall asleep. A warm bath increases our body temperature artificially, after the bath the drop in body temperature facilitates sleep.

A Hands on Sleep Solution

There have probably been countless times that you've nearly nodded off while being pummeled by a professional masseuse, only to have your cat nap rudely interrupted when your time at the spa's up. Why not make use of this magical touch at home, in bed, where you can comfortably drift off to dreamland?

Massage relieves tension and stress. It also relaxes muscles and eases the nervous system to induce the feeling of calm and peace necessary for a good night's sleep.

Begin by massaging your left shoulder in circles using the fingertips of your right hand. Then massage your right shoulder. Be sure to keep the strokes slow and rhythmic, and focus on your breathing.

Now using both hands perform a circular massage on the bottom (planter) surface of your right foot, concentrating first on the ball, then the arch and finally the heel. Next use the knuckle of your index finger to make circles on the side of your heel. Repeat on your left foot.

Place your index fingers on the spots just above your inner eyebrows, and using a firm but gentle pressure, make slow circular movements on that spot. Then repeat these circular movements on the temples.

Next, place your index fingers on your forehead, in the middle of your hairline, and pull them slowly downwards towards the temples. Repeat this movement, moving a finger width down each time, to finish on the chin.

To create your own 'sweet dreams' massage oil, simply mix four drops of any of the above essential oils, or blend thereof, with 10ml of almond oil.
About the Author
Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at http://bodybuild.rr.nu.
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