Is there anything more frustrating than lying awake when you desperately need to get a good night’s sleep?
Sleeplessness is usually a result of one of two types of things: 1. Over-rest or stimulation, such as napping or drinking a caffeinated beverage in the afternoon or evening; or 2. Something bothering you. If it’s the latter, why toss and turn for half an hour wishing it away? Get up as soon as you notice it and address it with one of these quick and simple solutions for common sleep robbers.
Headache? A pill will work in about half an hour, but for instant relief, use acupressure. For pain in the temple region or sides of the head: Put your hands on your head and use your thumbs to locate the depressions at the base of your skull, about 6cm (2 inches) out from the middle of your neck. The points are just to the outside of the large muscles running down the side your neck. Press your thumbs in and slightly upward in the direction of your eyes. Press until you feel no more than a comfortable pain, then hold the pressure while you knead the points in very small circular movements for 1-2 minutes. Close your eyes and focus on the points as you press them; if the points are very tender ease off the pressure a bit.
For a general headache or sinus pain: Use one hand to locate a pressure point on the opposite hand about 1.5 inches in from the edge of the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Put your thumb on that point and your index finger on the underside of the webbing to create a pinching technique. Squeeze and massage the point in very small circular movements for 1-2 minutes. Repeat on the other hand. These techniques will make you a believer in acupressure. For a quick video demonstration, visit Chinese Holistic Health.
Feet Cold? Research has actually shown that having warm feet helps people sleep better. The easiest fix for cold feet is sticking one foot behind the knee of the other leg, then bending the knee. That spot is one of the warmest your toes can reach – and maybe just a few minutes there will do the trick. The next level of intervention is to get a clean pair of socks. Socks you have worn earlier have humidity in them and actually make your feet colder. If five minutes in clean socks doesn’t warm your tootsies, it’s time for a major intervention. If you are the least bit drowsy, this will wake you up for sure, but it also solves the problem that’s keeping you from sleeping, so it’s worthwhile. Soak your feet in the tub with warm water. Or, if you have a shower only, run warm water over them. As soon as you dry your feet, pop some fuzzy socks on and you’re good to go… to sleep! Learn more feet-warming techniques at Suite101.com.
Hungry? Have you ever noticed it’s hard to fall asleep when you’re hungry? Besides stirring in you a compassion for the millions of people worldwide who have no remedy for this, your hunger should spur you to get out of bed and get a bite to eat. Don’t just shove anything in your mouth though. You need something that induces sleep without turning you into a sumo wrestler. Though modern science has yet to establish a good reason, a glass of warm milk does seem to help people sleep. Whether it transports us back to the days of nursing a bottle before our beddy-bye time, or because it contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which turns to 5-HTP and releases relaxing serotonin, a warm glass of milk before bedtime is the stuff of sweet dreams. Try adding a teaspoon of honey or brown sugar to the milk, or drink hot chocolate made with milk if warm milk alone makes your skin crawl. For other sleep inducing bedtime snacks, check out Reba Ray’s Down Home Health Cookin’ for One on a Budget.
Too much on your mind? Lastly, if that something bothering you is not physical, you need to put it aside for the next eight hours. If you’re running a to-do list in your head, just get up, go write down everything you’re trying to remember to do and be done with it. Take the pad and paper to your bedside to jot down anything else that pops into your mind. If it’s not as simple as putting it on a to-do list, it’s time to count sheep. A variation of this that works for me is starting at 100 and slowly counting backwards. Focus all your thoughts on counting backwards. Don’t let your mind stray. If you are indeed sleepy, soon enough you’ll find that instead of counting you’re half-dreaming. You may drift in and out of semi-consciousness several times before you fall out completely. Each time, resume your count. I have never made it to zero with this technique.