Learn How to Fight Insomnia

by Megan Smith

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Getting enough sleep continues to be a major challenge for many individuals, with 10 to 15% of Americans currently suffering from chronic insomnia. As schedules continue to be jam-packed with work, activities, and obligations, there seems to be less room for relaxation and little time to un-wind at the end of the day before trying to catch some precious sleep. Many sleep-deprived adults look to the quick fix of sleeping pills, but some are left unhappy with their ineffectiveness or bad side effects.

New Research Sheds Light on Sleeplessness

Although many continue to toss and turn at night, new research brings hope. A recent study published in the April 2011 edition of Sleep Medicine Reviews discusses evidence in favor of CAM, or complementary and alternative medicine, to ease sleeplessness. Lisa Shives, M.D., the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine, agrees and highlights the benefits of acupressure, yoga, and tai chi specifically. By using gentle pressure at key points on the body, or slow, relaxed exercises, you can prepare your body for a good night’s sleep and improve the quality and duration of your slumber.

Relax Before Resting Your Head

The benefits of the techniques used in yoga, tai chi, and acupressure are far-reaching, but notably help calm both your mind and body before you hit the sack. Judd Handler, a health and lifestyle coach and yoga expert, emphasizes that it’s important to avoid physically stressful activity before bed-time and to focus on poses that will help you relax, such as Downward Dog or Child’s Pose. For those who have tried pills or therapy to no avail, a UCLA study found support for claims that the benefits of tai chi on sleep are equal to these more traditional treatments, with two-thirds of participants showing major improvements in sleep quality. Furthermore, WebMD.com discusses a new study on acupressure by focusing on the proper flow of your body’s “life energy” without the use of needles. Benefits were proven to last up to two weeks after treatment, simply by applying physical pressure to specific body points.

Unwind with the Kids

More importantly, your kids may not be getting the sleep they need to function well throughout the day either. The Kids Yoga Resource believes that most children are not getting enough sleep at night and that bedtime yoga can help re-focus their minds and ease them into better sleep. By focusing on proper posture and breathing techniques, you and your children can create a fun new ritual to forget the stressors of the day, bond together, and ultimately lead to better sleep. Well-rested kids can lower the stress levels of busy moms, and even allow them to get more sleep as well, providing a win-win for everyone.  

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