Sleep peacefully, naturally

By Kay Wagner | Sep 01, 2010

Your stress level is rising.  You need a good night’s sleep more than ever.  

Instead of replaying your worst scenario while you toss and turn, train your body and mind to stay calm with one of these insomnia solutions:

A friend of mine likes to imagine a slow walk on the beach, hearing the surf and gulls, and sensing the ocean breeze and warm sand under his feet.  

Other peaceful images could be a white sail boat on calm water.  A garden, a candle flame or a star.  Or choose a vacation or time when you felt calm.  

Practice bringing your tranquil mental vacation to life every time your mind sneaks back to stress-filled thoughts.  

• Your breathing can also calm your mind and body.  Try the counting breath:  To a count of six, breathe in as fully as you can.  As if you are blowing up a balloon.  

Hold for four counts.

Exhale deeply to a count of eight. Stretch your exhale to the very end.  Repeat as many times as you need.

Squeeze out stress.  Inhale and squeeze your hands, arms, back and shoulders.  Hold four counts.  Then exhale releasing your muscles.  

Next, inhale contracting your feet, legs, hips and pelvis.  Hold four counts.  Release your breath while your lower body relaxes.

Breathe in and contract your entire body, holding four counts.  Exhale allowing every muscle to sink and melt like hot candle wax.  Repeat as needed.

• If you suspect a sleepless night, plan ahead.  

Relax from the inside with a cup of chamomile or mint tea before bed.  Trader Joes sells Bedtime Tea, a delicious soothing blend of both herbs.  Many over-the-counter natural remedies are available now.  One of my favorites is melatonin.  

Saturate tight muscles with relaxing magnesium. Two handfuls of Epsom salts in a warm bath can be as relaxing as a massage.  For even more tranquility, toss in a few drops of lavender oil or bath salts of choice.

• Exercise during the day.  Don’t expect your mind and body to kick the stress without exercise.

At bedtime, do a gentle stretching and breathing routine. 

I like to watch a DVD, escaping to the green fields and beaches of Ireland.  Bed, Bath and Beyond has a selection of nature DVDs and quiet music.  E-mail me for a list of recommended stretching DVDs.

• ‘Om’ yourself to sleep.  Mantra meditation is simple.  Just repeat a word or phrase.  Use Sanskrit sounds ‘Om’ or ‘Hahm-sah’ or phrases like ‘I am calm and quiet’ or ‘Peace.’  Breathe deeply.  Anytime a thought comes in, gently return to your mantra.

Whichever technique you use, use it often.  Practice will improve your ability to release stress and relax for peaceful, restorative sleep.  You will awaken energized and ready for a successful day.

Kay Wagner LMP & NASM Certified Personal Trainer, leads Yoga, Pilates, Free weights & Fit-ball.  Her studios overlook the mountains and water, at 828 2nd St. in Mukilteo. Please call 425-353-4545 or visit

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