The Restorative Benefits of Sleep
Rest = Restoration. It makes sense, doesn’t it? While
exercise and movement are essential for stimulating circulation and
the elimination of toxins, rest and sleep provide an opportunity for
the body to cleanse, repair, and rejuvenate on a deep cellular
level. Most people in our society are chronically sleep deprived.
Nourish your body with plenty of healing sleep and rest.
Source: Laurel Vuckovic
Napping for more energy
Many people allow themselves the luxury of a nap only if they
are sick. But the body has natural cycles of rest and activity, and
the desire for a few minutes of rest in the mid-afternoon seems to
be an inherent physiological need. Although most people in our
culture fight the desire for rest and even view it as a sign of
indolence, in many cultures, a midday siesta is regarded as a
Taking a few minutes out of the day for a nap can be wonderfully
restorative. When you stop all activity to close your eyes and rest,
both your body and your mind have an opportunity to relax deeply.
The best time to nap is usually in the mid-afternoon,
approximately 8 hours after you arise and 8 hours before you go to
bed at night. For most people, this coincides with the time that
they naturally feel the desire to nap-somewhere around 3:00 PM. If
you nap too late in the afternoon, you may have difficulty going to
sleep at night. Try to cultivate the habit of napping at the same
time each day, and for the same length of time. This helps to get
your body into a comfortable napping rhythm.
When you nap, make yourself as comfortable as possible. Take off
your shoes, loosen tight items of clothing, find a comfortable chair
or couch, and dim the lights in the room. Even if you don’t sleep,
take a few minutes to treat your body and your mind to a deep
relaxation exercise. For example, focus on your breathing and
progressively relax every muscle in your body, beginning with your
toes and moving slowly up through your body to your scalp. For most
people, naps between 15 and 30 minutes are the most refreshing. Upon
awakening, take a minute or two to stretch, walk around, and spritz
your face with cool water or an aromatherapy toner/spray to help
relieve any momentary feelings of grogginess.
The Healing Power of Sleep
Much of the body’s healing work takes place while you sleep.
Without the need to attend to all of the functions of daily life,
your immune system and organs of detoxification can focus attention
on cleansing and restoration. This is the time when your body does
major housecleaning, taking care of wastes that have accumulated
during the day and repairing cellular damage.
Cultivate the habit of going to bed early, before 10 PM. When
dark falls, the body naturally wants to sleep. Overriding this
desire for sleep interferes with the natural rhythm of cleansing.
According to traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, as well as
Western naturopathic healing philosophy, the most important hours
for detoxification and rejuvenation are before midnight.
The earlier you go to bed, the better. For the most restful and
restorative sleep, make sure that your sleeping environment is as
healthful as possible. Use natural cotton bedding to allow your body
to breathe, and wear comfortable, loose cotton sleepwear. Keep your
window open at least a few inches year round to provide plenty of
Avoid eating for at least two hours before sleeping. This ensures
that your body’s energy can be used for healing and rejuvenation
instead of for digestion. If you do want to eat something before
bed, a piece of fruit is a good choice. Fruit is cleansing and is
quickly digested. If you have difficulty getting to sleep, there are
a number of factors to consider that can help you to get a good
night’s rest. First of all make sure that you are getting sufficient
exercise during the day.
A 30-minute walk either before or after dinner is especially
helpful for ensuring deep sleep. Avoid caffeine in all forms. While
caffeine late in the evening is particularly disruptive for sleep,
even a morning cup of coffee can cause nighttime sleep disturbances
for some people. Avoid stressful mental activity in the hours right
before bed, and spend time relaxing with a good book, enjoyable
conversation, soothing music, or meditation instead.
Make sure that your sleeping environment is peaceful and quiet.
If you can’t escape noisy neighbors or traffic sounds, invest in a
sound machine that created soothing background “white noise” that
masks disturbing sounds. Natural remedies for restful sleep include
soothing baths and herbal teas. Try a warm bath just before bed with
2 cups of Epsom salts and 10 drops of lavender essential oil diluted
in the bathwater. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, which helps to
relax the muscles and the nervous system, and lavender has soothing
effects on the body and the mind. A cup of chamomile or
passionflower tea also promotes relaxation. Brew a strong tea by
pouring boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried herb and steeping in
a covered pot for 15 minutes. Strain, and add honey or lemon if
desired. For serious insomnia, check with your local herbal store or
naturopath about taking valerian, kava kava, or any of the many
other herbal remedies that exist.
Practicing calming breathing and deep relaxation exercises can
also help to promote restful sleep by quieting the body and mind.
Cultivate the habit of taking a few minutes to purify your body and
your mind with your breath when you first get into bed. Simply focus
on your breathing, taking 3 deep, relaxing cleansing breaths, and
then mentally scan your body for any areas of tension. When you find
a pocket of tension, gently breathe into that area, imagining the
tension leaving your body with your exhalation.
You’ll most likely fall asleep in the middle of this deeply
relaxing exercise, which is just fine! Waking up in a pleasant way
is just as important as getting a good night’s sleep. Leave your
shades or curtains open so that the early morning light will signal
your body that it’s time to rise.
If you’re going to bed at the same time each night, you’ll find
that you’ll naturally awaken at a regular time each morning. If you
do need the help of an alarm, make it a gentle introduction to the
day with pleasant music or a soothing chime. Don’t leap out of bed,
but take a few minutes to stretch and breathe, appreciating the
blessing of another day of beautiful life and opportunities that
Resource: 14-Day Herbal Cleansing by Laurel Vukovic.