There are so many changes that happen this time of year. Daylight savings time ends, school schedules change due to holidays, it may be crunch time at work to meet end of year deadlines.. These changes can increase our stress and really affect our sleep schedules! When we have trouble sleeping, it can affect our mood, energy levels, relationships, and our health! Here are a few TCM tips to help you unwind at the end of the day. 1. Try to stick to a consistent sleep routine. It can be hard to maintain a consistent routine with all of those changes mentioned above. If possible, try to start your bedtime routine as close as possible to the same time each night. Getting into a routine can make it a little bit easier for our bodies to know when it is time to rest. 2. Avoid TVs, Phones, Tablets, or other screens before bed! The bright lights given off by these electronics can over stimulate our brain and make it hard for us to turn our minds off before bed. Try reading a book (not a tablet!) or listening to a book or story with your eyes closed. 3. Avoid alcohol and spicy foods before bed. Alcohol is very warming and moving. If you struggle to fall or stay asleep because your body feels too warm or restless, alcohol will only make that worse! Having alcohol or spicy foods before bed can also stir up our digestive system, increasing acid reflux, GERD, and other digestive issues. 4. Snack on a couple of red dates before bed. Red dates are used in TCM to help with sleep because they are known to "calm the mind". They also help support digestion and can help with stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea, and help you absorb nutrients. Dates nourish our Yin and sleep is one of the "Yin" functions of the body. 5. Listen to a guided meditation. Guided meditations are probably our number one favorite way to relax an overactive mind! Many people give up on meditations because they think that if their mind wanders then the mediation isn't working. It is totally okay to let your mind wander a bit during meditation! There are many free guided meditations online that range in duration from just a couple of minutes to an hour or two! Throw one of these on when you climb into bed, close your eyes, and just listen to the words and focus on taking deep breaths. You'll likely start to doze off before it even ends! 6. Gently massage a few acupressure points! There are several acupressure points that can help with calming and supporting sleep!
1. An Mian: If you place your index finger right behind your earlobe, you'll feel a big bone, and right behind that your finger will fall into a depression. Press gently and massage in a circular motion. Try to make these circular motions about 100 times. 2. Yong Quan: If you slide your thumb down from the bottom of your 2nd or 3rd toe, your thumb will fall into a big depression in the middle of your foot just after the ball of your foot. This is another great point to massage gently for calming. Kids love this one too! 3. Nei Guan: You may have heard of this point for nausea... it is on your inner forearm, three finger widths below the crease of your wrist, inbetween the two tendons you'll feel. This point is fantastic for nausea, but also very helpful for calming the mind and reducing anxiety.