Other 90 day Blog Challenge participant, Kit, has posted two great posts on relaxation, sleeping and the yoga nidra practice - HERE and HERE.
I am very grateful to Kit for teaching me these skills and techniques, as they have had a profound effect upon a number of things in my life; not the least of which has been sleep quality. These practices are simple and deep, and pretty much free - but so powerful. They should seriously be taught to all children as a life skill.
I used to wake up about 10 to 15 times per night. Also, as a teenager, it would take me between 30 minutes and 3 hours to actually fall asleep (ponder deep existential questions about Life and Death - especially death). Now it takes between 20 seconds and 2 minutes; and, if I do wake up, I can drop right back into sleep at will.
As Kit mentions, the experience of deep physical relaxation (I think Swami Satyananda says it this way too.. what a great three word phrase!) and the “how to experience sounds moving through you and leaving not a trace” were the two keys for me.
Rotating the awareness from sound to sound during a deeply relaxed state totally changed my relationship to ‘noise’ and the environment. There is no noise – just sound. Even during the day, loud sounds that drive other people crazy do not bother me so much, now.
I have seen physical training/exercise broken up into a simple diagram of three interlocking circles of influence (will have to remember which book) of exercise, diet/nutrition and sleep/restoration. I mainly focus on the exercise/movement and sleep/restoration circles in my work. The relaxation and sleep practices were/are key to working with the restoration/sleep circle (which exerts a powerful influence upon how the other two interact).
One interesting thing in relation to sleep that I have had work for me of late, has actually been herbal sleeping tablets. I got these on heavily reduced sale, and decided to see if they did anything (they were quite inexpensive; I liked the combination of herbs and I am curious and like to test these things out on my bodymind). Tablets consist of:
Passiflora incarnata [Passion Flower]
Valeriana officinalis [Valerian Root]
Humulus lupulus [Hops]
Scutellaria lateriflora [Skullcap]
Matricaria Recutita [Chamomile]
Interestingly, I have found these to work really well. Beyond the upper end of my expectations. Deep, restful and dream-enhanced (vividness and number and duration of dreams) sleep. Obviously the sample size of one is inconclusive for other people, but from a personal body watching perspective I am very interested by this.
I might try the 'erbs in isolation to and smaller combinations to see if I can hone in on the one(s) that are working so well for me. Not something I would do regularly, but useful knowledge to intermittently cycle in and out of. My guess is that hops and skullcap are involved..