Lying awake at night isn’t fun. After a long day, your mind and body need rest, so it can be frustrating when you find yourself tossing and turning beneath the covers. Fortunately, Qi Gong can provide some helpful tools to help you improve your sleep at night.
In this blog, we discuss the nature of sleep from a Chinese medicine and Qi Gong perspective. We’ll also share six actionable tips to help you fall asleep with ease when it’s time to turn off the lights.
Understanding the Root Cause of Sleep Issues
In Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong, balance is seen as an essential component for health and well-being. When your energy is well-balanced, everything just works better in your body. When imbalances occur, your health can suffer. For this reason, many Qi Gong exercises focus on bringing harmony and balance to all parts of the body.
When it comes to sleep, many issues are the result of an imbalance between Yin and Yang energy. Specifically, when there’s an excess of Yang energy in the head, sleep can become difficult.
Yang energy is connected with action, movement, and doing. As you can imagine, there’s often an overemphasis on Yang energy in western culture. While Yang certainly has its place, it can also cause harm when it falls out of balance with Yin.
To regain balance and improve your sleep, it’s important to release Yang energy from your mind and move it downward. In “non-Qi Gong” language, this essentially means that it’s important to slow down, calm your mind, and relax your body. As you’ll notice, all the tips mentioned below are geared toward helping you do exactly that.
If you’ve been following our blog for a bit, some of these tips may sound familiar to you. However, we wanted to include all of them here because these are some of the most powerful tools available for improving your sleep naturally.
We hope these six tips help you experience deep and nourishing sleep.
1. Stop Using Your Devices an Hour Before Bed
Not surprisingly, bright screens and blaring media messaging are very activating for the human mind. It’s natural to be pulled toward checking your phone in bed, but such a habit can create serious consequences for your sleep.
To allow your mind to calm down and release Yang energy, try turning off your devices at least an hour before bed. In some cases, this might require you to plan ahead and set your alarm clock or send important text messages earlier in the evening.
Once you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll probably find that you feel relieved. There’s something very liberating about knowing that you’re all done looking at news articles or checking messages for the day. In fact, you may even start looking forward to powering down your phone and other devices for the evening.
2. Choose Relaxing ‘Pre-Bedtime’ Activities
In addition to stopping the “wrong” behaviors, it’s also important to choose calming activities before bed that help you cultivate Yin energy and improve your sleep.
For some, reading is a wonderful way to unwind from the day. For others, stretching, yoga, or meditation can be helpful for relaxing the mind and body. Whatever it is that helps you let go of any stress or tension, just be sure to spend some time doing those activities before getting into bed.
3. Massage the Bottom of Your Feet
There are many ways to move Yang energy downward in your body, and one of them is to massage the bottom of your feet.
When you massage the bottom of your feet, energy naturally leaves your head and flows downward. This can help you quickly let go of busy thinking and restore tranquility in your mind. Not to mention, it can feel pretty nice to give your feet some well-deserved love for all the hard work they do carrying your body. 🙂
4. Establish a Consistent Bedtime
When your bedtime and wake-up schedule is always changing, it makes it difficult for your mind and body to know what to expect. Unfortunately, this can cause your Qi to fall out of balance, leading to fatigue during the day and restlessness at night.
On the other hand, when you have a consistent bedtime, your body naturally learns when it’s time to be awake, and when it’s time to go to sleep. This can make it much easier to shift your energy and fall asleep when nighttime arrives.
Different people certainly have different rhythms, but it’s best to go to sleep before 11 PM for the vast majority. After that point, you can experience a ‘second wind,’ which can add to the challenge of falling asleep.
Of course, if you have a job that requires you to stay up late, this tip can be hard to implement. However, if you’re in that position, it’s still wise to do your best to establish a consistent rhythm to improve your sleep.
5. Do the Healing Sounds Exercise for the Triple Warmer Exercise
There are many Qi Gong practices that are great for preparing for bedtime, and one of these is the Healing Sounds exercise for the Triple Warmer…
Stand or sit with your feet resting on the floor about shoulder-width apart to do this exercise. Then, slowly inhale as you bring your hands above your head. On your exhale, drop your hands slowly with your palms facing your body and make the “Heeeee” sound.
Imagine Yang energy flowing toward the floor with each exhale as you pull your hands downward. Continue this exercise for a few minutes and feel your body and mind relax with each deep breath you take.
6. Do Some Qi Gong Exercises that Tonify Your Yin Energy
Our final tip is to try Qi Gong exercises that strengthen (tonify) your Yin energy.
Slow, flowing Qi Gong movements are a great way to calm your mind, relax your body, and prepare for a restful night of sleep. Water Waves, Pulling Down the Heaves, and Pebble in the Pond are just a few great exercises for cultivating Yin energy in the evenings.
If you’re interested in learning more Qi Gong exercises, including many great for improving your sleep, check out our free two-week Qi Gong trial.
Free Two-Week Qi Gong Trial
When you sign up for the free two-week trial, you’ll gain immediate access to two weeks of online Qi Gong classes taught by master teacher Lee Holden.
These free classes are an excellent way to experience the benefits of Qi Gong for yourself. Many of Lee’s exercises are excellent for releasing stress and preparing for a restful night of sleep.
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