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Sleep Sensitivity

7 Natural Ways to Improve Insomnia and Sleep Habits

Photo: Courtesy of Annie Spratt

Have you been waking up during the night with a million thoughts and just can’t seem to fall back asleep? Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or do you simply always feel tired during the day? You are not alone!

Sleep hygiene

There are numerous ways to combat these pestering thoughts and emotions—some with drugs that are often habit-forming. And then there is good ‘sleep hygiene,’ and a basic mind-body medicine technique, which I am going to expand upon.

If these steps are not effective, you may need to see a physician that specializes in sleep and talk to your doctor about other possible medical issues, such as respiratory, gastrointestinal, sleep apnea or other conditions that may be causing a physical or chemical change in your body. Let’s start with some ideas that may help you solve your problem naturally.

My technique

First, start improving your sleep with following some excellent sleep hygiene techniques and optimal sleep suggestions such as not eating a heavy meal (especially red meat and spicy foods) four hours before bedtime, decrease or stop caffeine in your diet, use a proper, contoured therapeutic pillow and an excellent cool, supportive and comfortable mattress, draw the drapes and make sure your LED lights are covered up and go to bed and wake-up at consistent times.

Then, if you have trouble falling asleep because of tension, anxiety or find yourself waking up during the night with thoughts that are just not allowing you to fall asleep, try this mind-body technique that has worked for many of my patients and certainly works for me:

The key is controlled, rhythmical breathing that starts from your diaphragm. Start with lying on your back or side, placing your hand on your abdomen, and breathing in through your nose for a count of seven. Feel like you are filling your stomach with air (pushing your hand outward), which allows you to press your diaphragm downwards, expanding your lower lungs. Then, slowly release this air (through your nose) for another count of seven. Continue doing this at least ten times, which is a little over two minutes.

Once you get comfortable with this breathing technique, begin to think each of the following words individually, slowly during every exhale: love, gratitude, forgiveness and healing.

Focus on what each word means to you one by one, with each breath you release. Continue for several minutes, the exact same breathing technique; experiencing the meaning of each of the words, as you slowly and gently release the tension and pressure from your mind and body. This will most likely increase your relaxation, clear your mind, and improve your chemistry to allow you to reduce your tension and enjoy a better night’s sleep.
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