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Stress-Less Sleep: Mind-Body Medicine You Can Use Tonight

Nov 4, 2007
I just attended a seminar today on Stress-Less Sleep: Mind-Body Medicine You Can Use Tonight by Dr. Lim Kok Kwang. Basically the seminar is talking about how to get a good sleep in a natural manner and I thought it is good to share. However, I did not bring with me writing materials so I will do my best to put down what I can remember. I hope this could help you in some way.

I am very fortunate to be able to sleep every night but I do have a lot of friends who have problems sleeping at night. Some of them are having too much stress because of work and some have problems in life while others have been having insomnia for a number of years. A good night sleep can be a luxury. Wishing you a good night of sleep tonight.

According to Dr. Lim, there are 2 main kind of reasons for insomnia namely physical and psychological.

For physical, usually it is due to environment or bodily pain or over-arousal. The environment where we are sleeping could be too bright or too noisy. In one of his examples, he had a patient who was having problem sleeping at night. The reason is that she needs to leave the bedroom light on (for safety reason) while sleeping as her husband, who is getting on in age, needs to use the toilet 2-3 times a night. So Dr. Lim suggested to her to leave the toilet's light on instead and to keep the toilet's door slightly ajar so that the room would not be totally dark. And two weeks later she went back to Dr. Lim saying that she no longer has any problem sleeping at night. In the case of bodily pain or over-arousal, it could be due to something like a sprained back or with the things you ate.

For psychological, which are due to unrealistic beliefs or emotional disturbance. The latter is more serious and there would be a need for consultation. People who is having problem sleeping due to psychological reason usually could be stress, depressive due to work, family or friends.

Not all people who has problem sleeping can get sleeping pills from doctor. Apparently there is a certain Insomnia Diagnostic criteria that a doctor needs to go through before prescribing sleeping pills to patients. Personally I think that should be the way as I am not in favor of taking medication unless there really is a need to.

The consequences of poor sleep are emotional distress, mental distress and bodily distress. When in emotional distress, the person will be easily irritable, nervous, lost of pleasure and just plain miserable. Mental distress will lead to poor concentration and forgetfulness while bodily distress will cause headache and fatigue.

In Dr. Lim's seminar today, he shared one method of how you can get yourself to relax through a 2 power steps in 17 seconds:

1. Single focus: in his elaboration, he gave the example on breathing. Whenever you breathed out, you count it out audibly as '1.'

2. Neutral, non judgmental or observer attitude (mindfulness). What he meant by this is that when you are doing the first step, you will have disrupting thoughts coming in and instead of denying these thoughts, just let then come in and go out. Focus instead on the counting of '1' as you breathe out.

Personally I had tried it out while I was in the seminar and it really worked. For just about 30 seconds, I can feel myself more relax and at the same time more focus.

Last but not least, Dr. Lim shared 7 steps to sleep success

1. Reduce caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, sleep medications and water (sleep hygiene)

2. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep (stimulus control)

3. Plan 'to do' list (emails, phone calls, etc) and leave it to tomorrow.

4. Exercise (brisk walk etc) 3 to 4 times per week

5. Do Sleep Restriction.

- Set Wake-up time.
- Set Minimum sleep time for adequate functioning the next day: meaning to find out the minimum hours of sleep that you need and yet you will still be able to fuction effectively the next day.
- Set go-to-bed time.
- Stick to schedule for 2 weeks.
- Avoid naps

The purpose of this Sleep Restriction exercise is to prevent ourselves from lying in bed trying to get to sleep. The more we spent lying in bed trying to get to sleep but still staying awake, the more it will 'stick' with us in the mind that we are not able to sleep.

6. Do 'ha' Breathing meditation.

Focus on breathing out for as long as you can comfortably. Breathe in through your nostrils and breathe out through your mouth. When you are breathing out, you produce a 'ha' sound.
Repeat for 15 minutes.

This is truly effective. I tried it out for a couple of minutes and it really put me in a very relax and focus state and I mean really focus.

7. Use guided imagery: while you are lying down on your bed, focus your mind on a single spot or pattern like your ceiling or wall. This will prevent your mind from disruptive thoughts which could prevent you from sleeping.

I hope these methods that I share with you will allow you to have a good night sleep in the most natural way.
About the Author
Boon Kiat Chua has a keen interest in helping people who are having problems sleeping, having insomnia, depressive to take charge and to make positive changes: http://sleepingwelltonight.blogspot.com (Winner of The best of 2007 award from http://HealthCentral.com)
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