Stressed Out and Sleepless? Try Mommy's Secret to Successful Snoozing
Stress. It's killing me. I was never a nail-biter, but by now I've nibbled away the dry cuticles and sides of my fingers until I'm practically drawing blood. And sleep -- what's that? I toss and turn while my brain runs through my to-do list like a hamster in a Habitrail.
But I'm not alone: According to the National Sleep Foundation, 76% of Americans experience symptoms of sleep disorders on a regular basis, making sleep disorders the most common health problem in the United States. And while the grogginess that results from not getting the recommended seven-to-10 hours of shut-eye can be, well, tiring, the mental and physical consequences of sleeplessness -- accelerated aging, increased risk of obesity and diabetes, memory loss and learning difficulties -- are frightening enough to wake us all up.
What's the number-one cause of sleeplessness? Stress. Like the kind that comes from reading the paper or watching the news and realizing that the world's economy is balancing on a precipice, perhaps? Or the kind that comes from waking up every morning worrying that you might lose your job, or your house. Everybody's feeling it. No wonder we're not sleeping.
Yet despite how exhausted I might feel after a full day of kids and work that begins at 5:45 a.m. and ends some time around 10 p.m., once my head hits the pillow my eyes pop open like I've just downed a double-shot of espresso. I've tried chamomile tea and all kinds of herbs, exercising and not exercising, lavender-scented creams and the like. But my new antidote is the Slip into Sleep Pose, created by David Romanelli, author of <i>Yeah Dave's Guide to Livin' the Moment: Getting to Ecstasy through Wine, Chocolate, and Your iPod Playlist</i>. One part autobiography, one part inspiration and one part just plain hilarious, this book puts me on the path to enlightenment while making me LOL in the process.
In typical Yeah, Dave style, Romanelli recommends skipping the yoga mat and performing the Slip into Sleep Pose in bed. To add to the atmosphere, I like to cover my eyes with a lavender scented eye pillow. Then I follow these ever-so-simple instructions:
Lie on your back with your legs slightly apart and your arms a few inches from your sides.
Turn your palms face up.
Take deep belly breaths and focus on them to quiet your mind.
Flex all of the muscles in your body --from your toes to the top of your head.
Lift your limbs and head a few inches off of the mattress. Hold for a breath. Now, release them back down and relax all of your muscles.
Focus on completely relaxing each individual part of your body, beginning with your toes and slowly making your way up to your head.
Imagine that relaxation is a warm liquid oozing through your body, flooding your insides and melting away all tension. If you know that some areas are especially tense, spend extra time there.
Stay in this place of stillness for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow yourself to drift to sleep.
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