Restful, Peaceful, Sleepful…

Dr. Danesh D. Chinoy is a leading Health and Wellness Coach, Sports Physiotherapist and Psychologist. He is dedicated to helping all to heal holistically and remain fighting fit for life. Providing eye-opening and ground-breaking insights into Wellness, Dr. Chinoy’s two-decades’ rich expertise has won him innumerable awards, nationally and globally. His mission is to empower you to reach your highest levels of wellness/fitness. You can connect with Dr. Chinoy at:

A night can seem like an eternity when you’re sleepless – tossing and turning. Getting through the day is a challenge when you have trouble staying awake – you could be getting too much or too little sleep for many reasons. Lack of sufficient and quality sleep on a regular basis negatively impacts your physical health and emotional well-being, while increasing the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and other illnesses. Therefore, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep should never be underestimated.

The hours of sleep needed, decreases with age. While newborns may need upwards of 17 hours of sleep, elders may need as few as seven hours. Perhaps getting better sleep is as easy as making simple changes in your habits, eg. installing a blue light filter or simply switching off gadgets including mobile phones before bedtime.

Insomnia is more prevalent in the elderly, and many seek medication for sleep issues, which unfortunately leads to higher rates of sleeping pill abuse. Medication comes with its own set of side effects, including dependency. We should obey and respect nature’s laws in our choice of lifestyle, to heal our systems before we jump-in for quick-fix, chemical concoctions.

Many of us face difficulty falling asleep because of a racing mind that keeps you awake. Stress and sleepless nights are closely linked. Under stress, you have stress hormones circulating in your body. A poor night’s sleep adds even more. Relaxation techniques help reduce the stress hormones by activating your parasympathetic system, thus helping you sleep better.

Today, I share with you a few relaxation techniques that will help you relax your mind and body, and help you fall asleep peacefully:

ABDOMINAL BREATHING: Refers to deep breathing into the abdomen, rather than shallow breathing into the chest. Seems simple, but does wonders to activate your parasympathetic system to counter the stress. Here’s how to get it right: First, lie down in a comfortable position and gently close your eyes. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Notice which hand rises more when you inhale. If the hand on your chest rises more, focus on filling your stomach (bottom of your lungs) full of air before you reach the top. The easy way to do this is to raise your abdomen as you inhale, just like a baby would. As you breathe, be sure to inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth. Breathe in and out in a slow and relaxed natural rhythm. Let go and focus on the sound of your breath. Continue breathing like this for a period of time and you will gradually fall asleep.

MANTRA REPETITION: A Mantra combines brilliantly with abdominal breathing to help you focus on the relaxation aspect of your breath.  As you breathe deeply through your abdomen, while exhaling say a phrase to yourself, like “relax” or even a prayer chant like ‘Ashem Vohu’. You can even use your imagination to picture your body accepting relaxation and letting go of tension. Picture these experiences as visual events such as air moving in and out of your body. Continue doing this for 5 to 10 minutes, till you naturally fall asleep.

PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION: Involves tensing and relaxing muscles across the body in a methodical fashion. There are many ways to do this – here’s one… Lie in a comfortable position and gently close your eyes. Tighten the muscles in your toes for a few seconds. Let go the tension in the muscles and let them relax. Feel your relaxed muscles and notice how different they feel, compared to when they were tensed. Repeat once and move up the body to another muscle group (Eg. your calves) and repeat the process. Continue doing the same with knees, hip, stomach, chest, arms etc. till you reach the top of your head. Soon your whole body will feel light and relaxed and you will naturally fall asleep.

BODY SCAN TECHNIQUE: This technique involves scanning your body for signs of tension so that you can release it and fall asleep. What you need to do is first lie down in bed and focus on relaxing as you exhale. Feel the bed underneath you and how it supports you as you continue to exhale and relax. Visualize each part of your body, starting with your head and moving through your whole body to look for spots that feel tense. Exhale and focus on relaxing those tense muscles. After you’ve finished looking for tension on your body, focus on your breath and use self-affirmations like, “I am healthy and strong”, “I will sleep peacefully, waking up refreshed and enthusiastic”. Soon, you will naturally fall asleep.

GUIDED IMAGERY: Is a convenient and simple relaxation technique that helps you quickly manage stress and reduces tension in your body, helping you fall asleep easily. It’s virtually as easy as indulging in a vivid daydream and, with practice, this technique can help you better access your inner wisdom too. You can use prerecorded CDs to simply listen to while falling asleep. To practice this technique on your own, you need to first imagine that the worry, stress, tension, anxiety inside of you is a colored gas and this gas is collected in those areas of your body where you feel discomfort. Imagine it moving from your lower body up through your torso and gathering in a ball ready to be expelled. Imagine now that the same energy is being pulled from your head down into that ball of energy. Imagine, as you exhale, that this colored gas is being expelled from every part of your body and as it leaves, it takes away with it all your stress, tension, anxiety, fear and worries. You now start to relax as you feel the calm in all the areas of your body. Now, notice how you feel relaxed, calm, and ready to sleep!

You can follow any or all of these techniques to help you fall asleep better and yes, do remember to write to me and share your experiences!

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