Over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and wakefulness.  It is no wonder that so many people feel exhausted, and turn to coffee or sleeping pills to regulate their energy levels.  Fortunately, there are ancient Daoist techniques that can improve the quality of your sleep

Calm the Five Senses

Daoism teaches us that in order to sleep well, you must calm the five senses.  Here is how to apply this ancient wisdom in modern times:

     Hearing – Avoid loud music and conversation for at least half an hour before bed.  Turn off the ringer on your cell phone, and put it in another room.

     Taste –Alcohol decreases the quality of the sleep, so don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid.Eat a light dinner.  If you are very full at bedtime, take a short walk before going to sleep.

     Smell – Instead of using air-freshener or burning incense in your bedroom, invest in houseplants known for their air-filtering qualities, such as Chinese Evergreen, Bamboo Palm, and Peace Lily.  You can also reduce electromagnetic activity by turning off your wireless router before bed.

     Touch – Sleep in a way that does not block the flow of Qi energy through your body.  Wear loose comfortable pajamas.  Sleeping on your stomach will put pressure on your organs, and should be avoided.  If you sleep on your back, let your arms and legs stretch out and relax. If you prefer to sleep on your side, sleeping on the right puts less pressure on your heart.

     Sight – Get your eyes ready to rest by turning off television, computer, and cell phone screens at least half an hour before bed. Spending too much time indoors and not having enough sunlight exposure can also cause melatonin/serotonin imbalance in the body.  Try to get adequate sunlight exposure during the day.You can take walks, garden, or play outside with your children.

Acupressure for Healthy Sleep

Acupressure is the ancient Chinese healing method of applying pressure to meridian points on the body produce natural healing.

Nei Guan – The “Inner Gate”

You can find the “Inner Gate” point on the inside of your forearm.  Starting at the middle of the crease on the inside of your wrist, slide down 2 inches towards your elbow.  You will feel two tendons there.  The point is between them.  The “Inner Gate” is used to calm the spirit and reduce depression.  Don’t forget the other wrist!

Yin Tang – the “Third Eye” Point

Your “Third Eye” point is located directly between your two eyebrows, where the bridge of your nose meets your forehead.  Ancient Indian mystics also recognized the power of this point and called it the 6th Chakra.  The “Third Eye” point can be used to quiet the mind, calm your nerves, and relieve stress.  If you are prone to over-thinking, this is the point for you!

Dan Zhong – “Sea of Tranquility”

The “Sea of Tranquility” point is at nipple height in the center of your breastbone.   You will most likely feel tender at this point.  It is considered one of the best points for relieving nervousness.  It quiets emotional upset and deepens breathing, which promotes relaxation.

When you are in bed and ready to sleep, try massaging these points for a few minutes while breathing deeply.   You may find these points feel tender or sensitive, so be gentle with yourself.

Try these Daoist tricks and get your zzz’s naturally!