Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M.,
Would you like to sleep like a baby without taking
drugs? Americans spend upwards of 3 billion dollars a year on sleep
medications, but to avoid the side effects, there are a number of
natural remedies you can try first. Read on to learn some of the ways to
get a good quality night's sleep.
1. Relaxing Rituals to Rest Easy
In Chinese Medicine, nighttime is yin time—or,
simply, when the body takes care of itself instead of your desires.
Proper sleep is required for your body to repair itself and regenerate.
To reach deep restful sleep, your spirit and heart must be calm.
Anxiety, and depression can all disturb the spirit and
activate the mind—making it near impossible to fall asleep and stay
asleep. Rituals to soothe your spirit and induce a sleep response before
bed include soaking your feet in Epsom salts for 15 minutes, writing all
of your thoughts in a journal to get them out of your head, and
practicing relaxation before bed, like the Stress Release meditation
2. When Food Disturbs Sleep
When you eat late, you wake up tired. Your body will
be busy digesting your dinner while you are trying to sleep, so you
won't feel rested in the morning. Do not eat anything for at least three
hours before bedtime. Also, cut back on eating bacon, cheese, chocolate,
ham, potatoes, tomatoes, and sausage, especially before bed. These foods
contain tyramine, which inhibits neurochemicals like
norepinephrine and can cause insomnia. And, of course if you have sleep
problems, caffeine should be cut out.
Eat for sleep! Try eating more grains at dinner; carbohydrates tend to
make people sleepy. Another snooze snack is a warm cup of milk; because
milk is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, it can sometimes aid in deep
sleep. Mix in natural vanilla flavoring for a soothing snack. Or if you
prefer, eat 1 cup of natural yogurt an hour before bedtime.
3. A Peaceful Place for Sleep
Your sleeping environment makes a huge difference to
the quality of your sleep. Do everything you can to create a quiet and
cozy atmosphere. Ideally, your bedroom should be located in the quietest
area of your home. Keep the décor minimal. Lighting should be dim and
any music that is played should be soothing. Research has found that
lavender, vanilla, and green apple are among the best scents to help
Anxiety and induce sleep, making these smells a good choice for a
scented candle or heated essential oil. Try to limit your pets to
outside of the bedroom because their movements can keep your body from
fully relaxing into deep R.E.M. sleep. As much as possible, your bedroom
should be only for sleep.
4. Exercise Enables Sleep
People with regular exercise routines often sleep
better and have fewer incidents of insomnia than those don't get regular
physical activity. Exercise promotes sleep and improves sleep quality by
altering brain chemistry. Exercising moderately for 20 to 30 minutes
three times a day, combined with meditation or tai chi in the evening,
will not only help you fall and stay asleep, but will also increase the
amount of time you spend in R.E.M. sleep. In fact, for some people,
exercise alone is enough to overcome sleep problems. Exercise in the
morning or afternoon, but do not exercise for at least two hours before
5. Herbs to Sleep Tight
A calming tea before bedtime can ensure a good
night's sleep. Drink valerian or passionflower (or passiflora) tea
before bedtime every night for one month. Simply steep 1 to 2
tablespoons of the dried herbs in one cup of hot water and drink just
before bed. Or look for one with the traditional Chinese herbs zizyphus
or jujube seed, bamboo shavings, and oyster shell, which soothe the mind
You might also try
Calm-Fort/Sleep formula with useful
herbs like lily bulbs, polygala and turmeric that help manage stress and
calm the spirit while relieving restlessness and insomnia.
6. A Sleep-Friendly Meditation
I had one patient with insomnia who also felt anxious
and even a little depressed. In addition to acupuncture and herbal
therapies, I decided to teach her a stress release meditation that she
could do before bedtime to help with her
Anxiety. I am happy to report
that she is now sleeping like a baby.
Try this Stress Release meditation, which works for the majority of my
patients who have sleeping problems:
Sit comfortably or lie down on your back. Slow your respiration to deep,
abdominal breathing. Utter the word "calm" in your mind with every
exhalation. Focus on relaxing each area of your body in sequence, from
the top of your head to your toes. Starting with the top of your head,
inhale and then exhale while visualizing your scalp muscles relaxing.
Say "calm" in your mind. Repeat this with each body part as you move
down through all body parts, front, back, and sides, in succession: your
face, throat, chest, arms, stomach, abdomen, thighs, knees, legs,
ankles, until finally you reach your feet. When you've relaxed your
feet, visualize all the tension in your body leaving through your toes
as dark smoke. Practice this for at least 15 minutes before bedtime.
It will have you sleeping in no time. If you do better with meditative
visualizations that are narrated, try my
Stress Release CD.
I hope you find the ways to resting easy and waking up refreshed!
May you stay healthy, live long, and live happy!
Maoshing Ni, L.AC., D.O.M., PH.D., DIPL. C.H., DIPL. ABAAP
Dr. Maoshing Ni is a doctor of Chinese medicine,
bestselling author and an authority in anti-aging medicine. He runs an
acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice in Santa Monica, California,
called Tao of Wellness, where his patients have included physicians,
Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrities. He is co-founder and Chancellor of Yo
San University in Los Angeles, where he teaches the art and science of
Wellness Medicine. Dr. Mao, as he is known to his patients and readers
has lectured internationally and has been featured on radio and
television as well as on the pages of The New York Times, Los Angeles
Times, and many other publications. He is currently featured as an
expert on Yahoo Health, where he writes a blog about longevity. For more
information on his bestselling book,
Secrets of Longevity and his
Secrets of Self Healing and his other books, go to