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Improve Your Sleep with Meditative Movements

Our Daily Hibernation

Bear with Blankie

Bears hibernate in the winter. They are genetically programmed and respond to their own internal messages. They know instinctively how to change their eating, drinking, and sleeping patterns to accommodate the change in seasons and in their environment.

Hibernation in bears means their heart and metabolic rates decrease. Like hibernation, when you sleep your heart and circulatory system slows and relaxes. According to the March Reader's Digest, sleep deprivation now rivals obesity and smoking as our greatest public health crisis. Experts assert that it's making us sick, fat, and stupid. Insufficient sleep is linked to hypertension, diabetes, and depression. It influences weight gain and affects memory, concentration, reaction time, judgment, and decision making.

In the workforce, this translates to less productivity, more injuries, and more expense due to increased insurance premiums and health-care costs. In the home, it means more unhappiness and discord.

March 20th ushered in this year's springtime. Once again the bears are preparing to change their living habits. Are you open to changing yours so you can have more restful sleep?

If yes, the "I Sleep" Meditative Movement may be helpful. Like counting sheep, you can complete it in your bed.

  1. Place yourself in a comfortable position, one that promotes sleep.
  2. Focus your attention on your breath. Notice how it naturally flows in and out of your body.
  3. Now deliberately change your breathing pattern. Inhale for a count of two, and exhale for a count of four.
  4. As you inhale, your stomach rises as it fills with air. As you exhale, your stomach returns to its original position.
  5. Once your breathing rhythm is established, say the "I sleep" affirmation silently to yourself as you exhale.
  6. Continue practicing until you fall asleep.

Like the bears, our daily hibernation rejuvenates our mind and our bodies. By practicing Meditative Movements, you can have a tired body and calm mind so you can sleep through the night. Waking up rested, you find more enjoyment in everyday living.

Obstacles Impeding Sleep

Picture of Moon over River

Sleeping well requires our minds to be relaxed and our bodies to be tired. Because of our lifestyles, we must train our minds and our bodies to achieve this.

Mind Obstacles

If you have too much stimulation, you may have difficulty calming your mind. If you have gotten into the habit of using alcohol in the evenings as a way to relax, this has implications. Unfortunately, too much alcohol disrupts your sleeping patterns instead of enhancing it. It can cause you to initially fall asleep, yet you awaken in the early morning unable to fall back asleep.

If your energy is being depleted by misperceptions and uncertainties, this causes a drain on you emotionally. When your thoughts are chaotic, they readily replay past events, forecast future disasters and make falling asleep naturally virtually impossible. When your mind is unwieldy, it causes unnecessary stress. One solution is to practice the "I Relax" Meditative Movement during your day as a way to give your mind and your body a break.

  1. In a seated position, close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath.
  2. Inhale fully.
  3. Exhale and bring your shoulders up. Say "I."
  4. As you bring your shoulders down, say "relax."
  5. Repeat. Pay attention and enjoy your relaxed mind and body.

Body Obstacles

When you lack the physical exercise needed to make your body tired, this is another reason sleep can be elusive. Our bodies are designed to move and play. If your job is sedentary, you need to find alternative ways for it to be active. Playful activities include dancing, gardening, walking in nature, riding bikes, and participating in sporting events. Because most of our daytime jobs do not involve physical activities, we have learned to include workouts as a way to exercise our body.

An effective workout regimen involves cardio, flexibility, balance and strengthening movements. The duration and intensity of the workouts depend on your own physical abilities. So if you want to promote healthy sleep, make sure you are physically working your body and calming your mind. The Power of Positive Aerobics DVD is a 30 min cardio workout that does just that. It offers three different workout levels with the spoken affirmations. This is a great way to take care of your mind, body and being needs so you can relax and enjoy sleeping.

Caveman Insomnia by Dr. Jose Colon, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Joe Colon Speaking

Insomnia is common. Insomnia is experienced in about 40 percent of the industrialized population. And 90 percent of people have had a bout of insomnia during life-stress events, the other 10 percent are in denial. Denial? Like the pot belly guy at the gym that walks by a mirror, sucks in his belly, and gives himself a thumbs up.

Why is insomnia so common? The answer can be clearly found in cave art.

Cave art? Yes. Insomnia is common because we come from cavemen. Regardless of whether you believe in evolution or if you believe we came from a rib (my wife makes great ribs) nobody can deny there is art in the walls of caves. And therein lies the answer to the beast of insomnia. Read the entire article.

While in Fort Myers, I met Dr. Jose Colon, the Sleep Guy. On his website, he shares information about sleeping basics, how to enjoy sleep as well as some common sleep disorders. He is the author of The Sleep Diet, A Novel Approach to Insomnia and the children's sleep book The Magic Ice Cream Palace.

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