Millions of people resort to sleep medications to cope with the growing problem of insomnia due to increased states of hyper-arousal and poor sleep scheduling, according to Gregg Jacobs, Ph.D. with the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Being able to recognize how much control we have to self-regulate our sleep can restore our body, mind, and relationships. When we are hyper-aroused and have a poor sleep schedule, we are unable to experience the type of deep restorative sleep that can lead to greater levels of health and well-being.
My colleague Linda Cammarata, a registered nurse and a registered yoga teacher with over 25 years of experience in the fields of integrative medicine and sleep health, has formulated a program using eight keys to natural sleep recovery. Used in conjunction with a health care provider who can assess significant biomedical factors that contribute to poor sleep, the eight keys can be used to effectively self-regulate insomnia and better ensure a good night's sleep.
Presented below are the eight keys to natural sleep recovery.
First Key—Recognize: Rhythms and cycles are essential to all life on our planet. Our modern lifestyle has pulled many of us away from natural rhythms resulting in feeling out of sync with our circadian rhythms. Recognize that what you do during sleep and awake cycles influence how well you sleep at night. (Tip—Enjoy 20 minutes of both morning and afternoon sunlight.)
Second Key—Examine: Examine your behavioral patterns and beliefs associated with sleep in an honest and open manner. (Tip—Practice stimulus control by using the bedroom primarily for sleep. If you find yourself lying in bed for more than a half hour and "trying" to fall asleep, leave the bedroom and engage in a relaxing activity in another room.)
Third Key—Explore: Explore your relationship with sleep. Invite your relationship with sleep to become more loving, patient, appreciative, and compassionate. Learn how to practice letting go of reactive negative habits such as worry, frustration, impatience, and anger. (Tip—Treat any distressing thought as a dear friend or small baby that you can just be with in an accepting, compassionate, and non-judgmental way.)
Fourth Key—Track: Track your sleep patterns with an intention of curiosity and interest. Invite an observing and curious mind into your everyday life. Tracking your habits support healthier, deeper, and more restful sleeping and dreaming. (Tip—Become aware of how your positive thoughts associated with sleep can decrease hyper-arousal and allow you to be in greater resonance with sleep rhythms and cycles. Observe any negative thoughts with a non-judgemental and compassionate attitude.)
Fifth Key—Allow: The attitude of “allowing” provides a receptive way of learning from both our internal and external experiences. Allow and trust experiences that support self-regulation. (Tip—Engage in a deeply restorative daily practice of taking a few minutes to walk outside in nature. Notice the temperature, the textures, the colors, and the overall beauty of nature.)
Sixth Key—Knowledge: Empowerment comes with knowledge. Become your best advocate for better sleep by learning integrative health care skills, techniques, and practices. There are many ways to reclaim your natural sleep rhythms. Do not give up! Remember to open your mind and explore new possibilities. (Tip—Subscribe to online blogging sites like Psychology Today or WebMD to keep informed of the latest news about optimal sleep health and other natural health care practices.)
Seventh Key—Believe: Believing is a very powerful healing attitude. Research supports that when we truly believe in the efficacy of our health care practices, we have the potential to heal faster. The innate intelligence of your body and mind can lead you back to natural sleep ryhthms. (Tip—Believe in your ability to heal based on your intrinsic and extrinsic resources.)
Eigth Key—Remember: Remember that we can learn how to reclaim deep sleep and dreaming. Know that there may be a number of issues keeping you awake and remember there are many integrative health care modalities to explore in addressing these personal sleep issues. (Tip—Rest in the confidence that you have the natural ability to become more and more attuned to circadian rhythms.)
The message to overcoming poor sleep is remembering that you have your own natural sleep rhythm. You will find that by applying and mastering these eight keys to natural sleep recovery in your own time, way, and pace, you can experience opitmal health in mind, body, and relationships.