June 7, 2018

Easy (and unexpected) tips for better sleep – for our insomniac friends

Dealing with insomnia? Here are easy and unexpected tips for better sleep
Here’s your 3 Bullet Thursday, the sleep edition! Insomnia, begone…

Blackout curtains

I have read about blackout curtains for a long time. Many articles on sleep hygiene promote the benefits of blackout curtains. When Nadia and I moved in together 5 years ago into a new apartment, we noticed right away that at night, a lot of street light came through the windows, even with the blinds down. It was obvious that it was too much light to sleep deeply. 5 years later, we actually did something about it. Before I tell you what we did, I feel that it’s important to highlight – 5 years. I’m a motivated person, particularly when it comes to health. 5 years. The solution took about 30 minutes… And cost us about $5. The moral – don’t ever be down on yourself at being slow to implement.
OK, onto the brilliant solution – mexican yoga blankets hanging on little white hooks! We have 4 windows in our 1 bedroom. It just so happens that we also had 4 mexican blankets that are the exact size of those windows! I got two little hooks for each window and we just hang up the blankets at night. Extremely effective. If we were awesome we’d have made one of those sped up DIY videos for you 🙂
Best part – (and it’s only a 2 night sample size) – deeper more restful sleep, but in an unusually deeply restful way. Hard to describe. It’s a calm energy, but one that feels solid, and makes me feel confident that I won’t get tired during the day. In Chinese medicine terminology, this would be called a proper balance of Yin energy in the body. My feeling is that, as Andrei suggested to us, the darkness has a positive effect on pineal gland hormonal regulation of the body. Research remains to be done on the why, but feeling pretty good so far.

6-center qi massage

Massage is a very important part of keeping your body balanced. In Taoist qigong practice, there are a ton of acupressure and self-massage protocols to balance the qi flowing through the body. It’s especially nice to do this before bed, to help unwind the tension and blocks we acquire during the stress of the day. I’ve noticed over years of practicing self-acupressure that my head usually starts out full of energy and tension, and afterwards, my energy is spread more evenly throughout my body, making it much more easy to relax into sleep.
The 6 centers refer to reflexology zones of the body that when stimulated promote healing in the entire body. It’s similar in concept to foot reflexology, but in addition to the foot, includes the hands, abdomen, sternum, ears, and scalp.
Set a 5 minute timer, and give yourself a few minutes to unwind while you massage each area. You can do this alone, or trade 5 minute sessions with a partner.
If you have questions about how exactly to do this, and would like us to make a video on it, please just reply to this email and indicate your interest.

“The Work” of Byron Katie

OK, we’ve all had it, many of us multiple times, or multiple times a week. Anxiety before bed making it hard to fall asleep, or anxiety keeping us up after we wake up in the middle of the night. I personally was feeling anxious last night about whether I should buy some tea stuff online – some teapots, tea, and a couple other things. It was sort of expensive for what it was, and it triggered several layers of anxiety about being responsible with money, and about my relationship to money in general. What to do?
The bottom line here, and this reminds me of a discussion I had with a client the other day who was having some issues with anxiety, is that we need a tool in our toolbox for “cognitive confrontation” – a method for using our critical thinking capacity to directly confront our relationship with stressful thoughts, and create a shift.
Luckily for the me of last night, I’ve been practicing The Work for years. The Work was developed by Byron Katie, a spiritual teacher with a very interesting enlightenment story that you should look up. You basically take the stressful thought that’s bothering you (in my case it was something like “It’s irresponsible to spend that much money on tea stuff”), and you subject that thought to cognitive scrutiny by answering a series of questions in writing on a worksheet. The basic question is “Who would you be without your story?” And the fundamental answer to that is – a person at peace with what is.
In a way the process is very simple, but to use it to good effect, I’ve found it important to read the background theoretical context in Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is, and also making sure to go very slowly and meditatively through the worksheet process – this makes the impact much deeper.
Long story short, after neutralizing the stressful thoughts, I immediately started to feel tired. And then hung up my blackout mexican blankets and went to sleep 🙂
Moral of the story – whether it’s The Work or something else, I feel that it’s very important to develop a “cognitive confrontation” tool as part of your health and well-being toolbox.
Oh, and PS, didn’t buy the tea stuff yet. I may, but might need to do The Work on it a few more times. My current ideal is to make decisions out of a state of peace, when possible. So we’ll see how it goes!
See you next Thursday,

2 Comments on “Easy (and unexpected) tips for better sleep – for our insomniac friends

June 8, 2018 at 12:20 am

Hello Jeremy!
Thank you for these very useful tips. I really appreciate if you can share with me the 6-center qi massage practice,
Thank you

Jeremy Riesenfeld, M.Ac., L.Ac.
June 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Hi Patricia,
You’re very welcome! Look for the video in a future 3 bullet Thursday. Thanks for requesting!


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