Do you toss and turn instead of getting the rest you need?
If so, you are not alone. These days sleep disorders including insomnia are common symptoms of modern day overwhelm and stress, with more young people also struggling to get enough rest to function through their day.
Not getting the sleep your body requires undermines your immune system, and dominos into declining physical, mental and spiritual health. It has a huge impact on performance, relationships and your quality of life. Unchecked, it often compounds into more serious disease and an increased dependency on medicines, which damage the internal organs and weakening the immune system.
Water up - Fire Down for Healthy Stress Response
The Western view of health focuses largely on things we should do to maintain health—eating right, exercising, sleeping well, etc.—and less on the feeling of good health. In this respect, the Eastern principle, “Water Up, Fire Down,” offers us an important balancing perspective.
According to this principle, when the body is in balance the cool water energy produced in the kidneys travels upward to the head through an energy channel along the spine. Warm fire energy, produced in the chest, then travels down to the abdomen. In this way, good health is characterized by a warm belly, which is good for the digestion and abdominal organs, and a cool head, equated with a clear mind.
Negative health consequences come with reversed energy circulation. When the energy center in our lower abdomen is weak, it’s hard to hold fire energy in the abdomen. Poor stress management constricts the chest and forces fire energy back up toward the head.
Symptoms of reversed energy flow include a warm head, a cloudy mind, headaches, irregular digestion, anxious thoughts, tight muscles, aching joints, constipation, etcetera which all contribute to sleeplessness, insomnia and eventually more serious conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
Depending on the underlying issue of your sleeplessness, simple steps can be taken to reverse direction and restore harmony and balance by managing the brain and the body’s ideal temperature settings.
1. Change Your Eating Habits:
Reduce or eliminate “simple sugar” and caffeine intake, either completely or simply start with a curfew of 3 pm. Introduce a nutritious diet, rich in fibre to help build the fire energy in your belly, warming and either softening or toning your intestines, restoring peristalsis.
2. Use Water Up - Fire Down Exercises:
Use exercises designed specifically for drawing energy down from your head into your core, such as the ancient Korean techniques of “Belly Drumming”, “Intestine Exercise”and “Infinity Symbol Whole Body Training”. These exercises quickly center your energy through the day in minutes. The primary technique to lull yourself to sleep is “Toe Tapping” (described below) which you can do at bedtime. This is the number one sleeping exercise. It has an added benefit of restoring energy flow through the stomach and spleen meridians, which are associated with trust and worry.
3. Practice Yoga or Qigong and Meditation:
These integrative practices relax the muscles in the brain, shoulders and chest, calm the mind and deepen the breath - bringing warmth to the intestines, physically drawing the heat that has gathered in the head down to the lower body, thus allowing the water energy from the kidneys to rise - cooling the brain. This process helps you regulate your body and manage your thoughts more effectively.
4. Drink your food:
Masticating your food by chewing well and mixing it with your saliva will aid your digestive process and help the intestines warm – essentially composting your food to quickly convert it into energy. This also serves the function of warming the body and cooling the brain.
5. Change habitual patterns:
Not eating 3 hours before bedtime. This allows the stomach to rest, rather than trying to work while the body should be resting. Not drinking liquids right before bedtime. This reduces waking up for trips to the bathroom through the night.
6. Schedule Your Electronic Use
Lit screens stimulate and energize the brain, it’s better to read a book, journal or write a letter.
7. Organize Your Day Into Categories Of Focus.
This helps you train your brain to turn on and off as you address different tasks, problems and projects and become more productive, objective and proactive – relaxing the mind and alleviating the helplessness of racing thoughts when you need to rest.
Techniques To Take Back The Night
Identifying the main culprit underlying your sleeplessness will help you focus and determine how take the necessary steps to take back the night. Gradually incorporate one or 2 changes per week for best results.
As mentioned above, one exercise I like to recommend for effective results is called “Toe Tapping”. I know, it sounds odd or cutesy but believe me it works! A popular home remedy in the far east for centuries, this potent exercise uses the Water Up / Fire Down Principle while it combines Reflexology, Acupressure, Tapping and 5 Elements Healing in one simple motion.
Click here to give it a try: Toe Tapping to a Great Night's Sleep