In recent weeks a few people who come to yoga classes have told me they are suffering from insomnia at the moment. Coincidentally it had already been on my mind to write a blog to inform people on how to improve sleep.
Do not fret. There is a healthy way to overcome insomnia. I know because I used to be an insomniac. I understand how debilitating, frustrating and annoying the lack of sleep can be. I even had a slight dependency on sleeping tablets for a while. Nowadays I can sleep for ten hours no problem and thoroughly enjoy going to bed very early at least one night a week to fit in a ten hours sleep. So, if I can overcome insomnia, anyone can
Here are some tips that worked for me and are still working. These tips go together, hand in hand. It’s a holistic approach that will cure insomnia.
1. Change your attitude to sleep. Instead of going about the day being cranky and tired because you’re not sleeping properly convince yourself that you have lots of energy, feel good and are happy with the sleep the night before regardless of how long or short it was. Changing how you think about not sleeping is really important as it settles the anxious feeling about the next nights sleep. This worked for me, mainly because I felt better during the day and stopped worrying – bonus.
2. Take up something that has a relaxing effect on the body and mind such as, guess what???? YOGA. Forward bends in yoga are calming and relaxing so any kind of forward bend will prepare the body for sleep. Also lying with your legs against a wall and gentle spinal twists will help to relax the body and mind. You could also practice the calming yogic breathing that we do in class, at intervals throughout the day; Inhale up the spine for 8 counts – hold at 3rd eye for 4 counts – exhale to base of spine for 8 count
3. Meditate. Old news at this stage! Good for everything. Calming the mind while balancing hormones.
4. Decrease stimulants. Give up caffeine and sugar for a while and all processed foods. Also consider giving up alcohol if you drink at night as it is a stimulant and will add to the problem. Even though a glass of wine can help you to drop off to sleep, if you are suffering from insomnia you are more than likely going to wake up again an hour or so later. So leave the wine aside for now or reduce to one night a week.
5. Start a relaxing night time ritual. Listen to relaxing music, light candles, take a bath, read a good story. Of course it’s o.k to watch a little t.v. however do it consciously. Turn the t.v. off a good while before going to bed. Be careful of your choice of pre-sleep programs as some can stimulate the mind and release hormones that can knock the body out of balance again. Such as a program that creates a sense of anxiety and fear. This will release adrenaline and/or cortisol into the system which can keep the mind alert and awake. Some t.v programs can cause more stress & negative thinking than you may be aware of. Most definitely do not watch the news late at night. In fact the less news you watch or listen to the better for your entire being.
6. Vitamin B Deficiency. The B complex vitamins play a role in sleep patterns and mood. This is especially important thing for vegetarians to watch out for, mostly B 12. Taking a good B Complex supplement could change your sleep patterns forever! You could also consider taking a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a sleep related hormone.
7. Vitamin D deficiency: New studies on the benefits of Vitamin D seem to be coming out all of the time. While its role in bone health is old news, newer studies have been showing that it can improve muscle strength and even prevent some forms of neurologic disease and cancer. True to vitamin D’s newly discovered role, studies are beginning to reveal that the widespread problem of sleep disorders in the northern hemisphere may be linked to the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Therefore Look into vitamin D deficiency and please take a good supplement. Best form is to spray under the tongue.
8. Valarian Hops. This is a wonderful natural sleep remedy. It is very powerful, works well and non-addictive. You can purchase in health food store.
10. Treat yourself to some relaxing time such as a massage, acupuncture, reflexology, cranial sacral massage etc.
11. Just chill. Everything is o.k. You are perfect as you are. There is no tomorrow, no yesterday. There is only now.
12. Be patient with this process. It may take while though it will be most worthwhile. The effects are long lasting.
May you soon enjoy a 10 hour sleep 🙂
Peace, Love, Happiness.
At this time of year normally numbers in yoga classes tend to drop off. However it isn’t the case this year at all. More people seem to be doing yoga than ever including a full classes at 7.30 a.m. in late November.
From what I can tell many of you have the yoga bug. The crazy knowing that you have to fit in your yoga class no matter what the cost, even if that means getting up at 6.30 a.m. on a cold winter morning. Welcome to yoga addiction 🙂
That said, sometimes we all need a little motivation. Even I do. I have noticed one or two regulars missing in action and know when this happens that life has become too busy or stressful to fit yoga in. The last thing we seem to be able to do when in this frame of mind is get on the yoga mat, even though we know it is often the best thing to do.
If you’re in that space at the moment, I advise you to pack your yoga bag early in the morning and bring it with you or leave it somewhere visible for the day. Make a mental note that you are going to your yoga class, rain, hail or snow. Then let your will get you to your class, fighting the voice inside that thinks you should stay at the desk at work or the voice that says, I feel debilitated and can’t move. Remember, your will is always stronger.
I know what it is like. As a yoga teacher I am committed to keeping up my own yoga practice at home. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.. I can’t move on the yoga mat. I sit on it, meditate on it, look at it while sitting on my couch 😉 but can’t seem to move on it. I get yoga asana (posture) block. When I am going through a phase like this, I drag myself to two or three yoga classes a week until I am back in my yoga asana heaven at home. Getting to the class is the hardest part. From there the teacher takes over, motivating the entire way through and I thoroughly enjoy it.
When you are in the moments of your life that are so busy, stressful or an emotional struggle and make excuses not to make time for yoga. Well it’s time to make time for yoga.. All you have to do is pack your yoga bag and make a mental note. Let your will bring you to a class. From there allow your teacher and yoga buddies beside you, to carry you through a sequence of yoga, meditation and relaxation that will only benefit you.
You will never ever say, “I regret going to yoga today”. You will often say, “I wish I went to yoga today.”
Peace. Love. Happiness.
Like animals in the wild begin to gather supplies in autumn for their winter hibernation, we too should be preparing for the short days, long nights and cold weather ahead. It can take up to sixty days and sometimes longer for some vitamins and minerals to effect the body so like our friends living in nature, to really benefit from the tips below, its time to build a strong internal body system now.
The lack of sunlight and grey skies in winter throughout Ireland can cause people to suffer from SAD, Seasonal Adjustment Deficiency. Not everyone suffers from it yet it is quite common to hear people mention they have a dose of the winter blues, or are lacking in motivation, suffering from low moods and generally not in great form.
Well, I am here today to let you know how you can beat the winter blues if you are well prepared. Prevention is better than cure so start today if you can.
10 Holistic Tips to Beating the Winter Blues:
- Increase levels Trytophan or 5 HTP in your diet, essential amino acids.
- Vitamin B Complex.
- Vitamin C.
- Vitamin D: Either 30 minutes in natural sunlight between 12- 2pm &/or a good D3 supplement
- Lots of Rest and Sleep.
- Soothe The Soul: Take a hot bath, Light candles in your home: Play mellow music. Go for a stroll in nature.
- Get creative: Find a creative outlet.
- Have Fun: Spend time with friends and family. Laugh.
Below is a more detailed description if you have time to read.
Trytophon: There is a lot of talk about this amino acid within the health industry and especially from modern day nutrition experts. Trytophan is one of 8 essential amino acids that the body can only obtain through diet. Proteins change to amino acid in the digestive process. This amino acid is responsible for the production of serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns, and mood. Because of tryptophans ability to raise serotonin levels, it has been used therapeutically in the treatment of a variety of conditions, most notably insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Tryptophan and 5 HTP significantly reduce the symptoms of these conditions and in some cases they completely disappear. That will give you an idea of how beneficial this amino acid is.
Unfortunately tryptophan has to fight with other more dominant amino acids within the bodies structure for it to synthesize in the necessary way for serotonin production. The way to combat this is to have a well balanced diet making sure one combines a good source of complex carbohydrates with protein. The carbohydrates can assist other essential amino acids to be used for muscle production leaving a gateway for tryptophan and its sister amino acid 5HTP to do their work i.e. serotonin production.
It is no longer possible to buy tryptophan in health food stores in Ireland however some may supply 5 HTP. If not in Ireland you can certainly purchase over the counter in the U.K. and North of Ireland.
High sources of tryptophan are found in the following foods:
Studies carried out by:
- Bell C, Abrams J, Nutt D. Tryptophan depletion and its implications for psychiatry. Br J Psychiatry 2001 May;178:399-405. 2001. PMID:15990.
- Celenza JL. Metabolism of tyrosine and tryptophan–new genes for old pathways. Curr Opin Plant Biol 2001 Jun;4(3):234-40. 2001. PMID:16010.
B-Vitamins: B Vitamins are very powerful range of vitamins. They are mood enhancers and keep the nervous system functioning well. They play a role in regulating sleep, balancing stress, anxiety & even PMS . If you are going to invest in any vitamins throughout winter go for Vitamin B complex.
Vitamin B’s are found in a range of foods including;
- Veg especially dark green leafy veg, asparagus and avocados.
- Nuts & Seeds
- Whole grains and especially quinoa and buckwheat.
- B12 can only be found in animal protein. Some soy products are fortified with B12.
Vitamin C: Is a powerful anti-oxidant, strengthens the immune system and builds collagen keeping skin healthy. It’s also a powerful anti-carcinogen. Found in plenty of fruit and veg.
Exercise: Exercise is one of the best things we can do to lift the mood. It aids the release of happy hormones into the blood stream while also kicking the body into producing even more feel good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. Exercise and eating well work together. While vitamins do have an effect on their own, their power will be boosted with a bit of exercise. Exercise on its own helps you to feel good. It keeps you lighter in body and lighter in mind. It also boosts the immune system keeping you healthy and strong. So make sure you include exercise into you weekly routine.
Vitamin D: We still have a month left of light and hopefully it wont get too cold until later in the winter giving us a whole month to absorb Vitamin D from the sun. You can up your dosage of vitamin D by making sure you go for a minimum of half hour walk at mid-day. Don’t worry if they skies are grey. The sun-rays are very powerful but it is important to be outdoors between 12pm and 2pm in winter months when the sun rays are at their most most effective. Another way is to take a good Vitamin D3 supplement.
Meditate: I cannot emphasize the importance of meditating. I benefit so much from doing a daily meditation practice. My life is changing in a most positive way. The old Sinead is mid dissolving. I am emerging in a different form. I am still the same skin and bones on the outside while being happier, more confident, stronger & increased level of intuition on the inside. I am also more compassionate and understanding of others. Trust me. This is good. People have been meditating for thousands of years & been trying to get the message across to us for a good reason. Get with 2013 meditation program.
Rest & Lots Of Sleep: Now here’s another thing I like to emphasize. Sleep. After all winter is time to hibernate. One of the best winter inventions is the electric blanket. Get one! They make bedtime even more enjoyable. Try to get as many hours sleep as possible. Pre-sleep wind down is necessary, so do something relaxing before bedtime. If T.V. is your choice then watch lighthearted programs. Really though, I try to guide people away from T.V. before bedtime. Instead read a book, listen to music or meditate, but the choice is yours.
Rest and Relax: Fit rest periods into your days off work. Flick through a magazine, sit on your couch sipping a warm drink, take a bath or do nothing! Simply rest and relax.
Soothe The Soul: Anything that soothes the soul is a good anti-dote to SAD or feeling low. Taking nice strolls in nature, (instead of power walks). Having a long hot bath with soothing essential oils thrown in, such as lavender or juniper. Light candles in your home. Burn nice incense. Play soft relaxing music. Read a pop philosophy book e.g. anything by Ekart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay. Soothing time is good for the body, mind and soul.
Have Fun: Bringing fun into your life is most important. For example spending time with family and friends; Go on an adventure. Join a club to meet other people. Or, join a meditation group, yoga class, or any other kind of evening class. Dance.
Find A Creative Outlet: Dance, yoga, art, crafts, theatre, music, writing, singing whatever your choice is. It’s fun and rewarding to be creative. Being creative also strengthens the right side of the brain, the same side that we use for intuition, wisdom and to feel a deeper connection to all beings.
Consider these useful tips to beat winter blues and develop harmony in your life.
Peace, Love & Happiness,
Do you know Sun Protection Factors (SPF’s) could be causing more harm than good.? SPF’s only block UVB rays from hitting the skin. These are the same rays that synthesize the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for bodily functions; It is necessary for hormone production, prevention of; osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases and depression. It develops healthy bones, strengthens the immune system and balances sugar levels. What’s more, these SPF’s have no resistance to more harmful UVA rays that penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin causing more harm.
In a country where we only get a decent amount of sunshine a few months a year, are we really doing ourselves good by covering our bodies in a SPF that deflects sun rays that are necessary for optimum health? One really has to wonder…?!?!?!
I have been researching natural sun protectors which I have subsequently found out exist in most natural oils including; coconut, almond, raspberry and carrot oil.
With the recent mini heat-wave in Dublin, I was able to put one of these oils to the test. I chose coconut over others, simply because I had it in my kitchen and I love the smell. I also remember using coconut oil as an insect repellent a few years ago in Honduras, the Island of nasty sand-fly bites. It worked on the sand-flies so I wanted to give this oil another test to find out if I could add another proof to its power.
While coconut oil protects the skin from being harmed by the sun, it works differently to conventional SPF’s; The oil has a high resistance to oxidation and stops harmful free radical formation. Free radicals basically hijack electrons from normal cells which then change the formation of cells causing harmful disease such as cancers and other degenerative diseases. In other words, to avoid skin cancer we really should be protecting the body from the over production of free radicals, not necessarily protecting the skin from the sun itself.
There is no denying that the sun is extremely strong so it is important to be sensible when using and oil and to build the skins natural resistance to the sun gradually. I covered myself in coconut oil about 10 minutes before I lay out to allow it to sufficiently seep into the skin. I sunbathed for up two hours a day for 6 days, starting with only one hour on the first day. The results were no burning, a nice tan, my skin feels soft, it’s glowing, even my hair is well conditioned from it sitting on my oily shoulders. What’s more, my skin absorbed all the healthy UVB rays, i.e. Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is stored in muscles and tissue so you can stock up in the summer in preparation for the darker months of winter. Spending an hour a day in sunlight, even if it’s cloudy could give you enough Vit D to last the winter long.
Tried and tested I can now recommend a natural SPF over the conventional ones mainly so the body absorb vitamin sun :-).
Be sensible if you are going down this route. Here are some tips:
- Use cold pressed virgin coconut oil. It solidifies at a cool room temperature & turns to oil the when rubbed into the skin.
- Build up your skins natural resistance to harmful sun rays gradually. Start at 20 minutes for the first day and extend by 10 minutes per day there after.
- Never stay too long in the sun. If you feel your skin is beginning to burn, or if you are experiencing dizziness it’s a good indicator that sunbathing time is up.
- Add powerful anti-oxidizing vitamins E and C to your diet .
- Stay well hydrated by sipping water at 15minute intervals.
- Adding zinc oxide to coconut oil can increase the level of natural SPF.
- Detox from time to time so the bodies natural ability to fight against free radicals is working at it’s optimum. See http://www.hushyoga.com/detox-with-me/
- Be sensible. If you are doing an outdoor activity, water activity, or will be in direct sunlight for hours, it may be better to use a conventional SPF to prevent sunburn.