One in three spend hours tossing and turning when they are supposed to be sleeping. Are you one of them? The numbers are staggering of how many people experience some type of insomnia or sleep challenge at some point in their lives. And whether it is a short or long term disturbance, both yoga and qigong can help quiet the mind and the nervous system in preparation for natural sleep.

The good news is that just 10 simple minutes of yoga or qigong can really assist in this process of emptying the mind of the stresses of the day and the mind chatter that often riddles you at night.

Most everyone know even a little about yoga, but frequently, less is understood about qigong. Let’s begin.

Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is a series of ancient Chinese exercises that use breathing and visualization to improve all areas of our mental, physical and spiritual health including our sleep. It is an excellent stress reducer.

These days it is widely accepted that Chinese medicine has a lot to offer that our traditional western medicine does not. Many doctors and clinics in the west are now recommending Qigong to their patients, as a complementary adjunct to traditional western treatment.

Qigong allows the body to heal itself by putting the body’s yin and yang energy into balance. It is gentle and relaxing and very easy to learn and practice. Even consistently practicing for ten minutes a day provides benefits, as you will find yourself feeling more calm and relaxed.

There are several ways Qigong can help you sleep soundly and more deeply. It’s an excellent “stress reducer”. And because it is so easy to learn and simple to practice, it is quite easy to set aside a few minutes prior to bed time to perform this relaxing routine.

Stress reduction is an instantaneous result of practicing Qigong and in addition there are other benefits. Qigong may be practiced standing, sitting, lying down or walking, therefore, for those of you that have trouble sleeping due to chronic pain, even back pain, Qigong can help here as well. Perhaps stress, anxiety or depression presents reasons for your sleeplessness. If so, Qigong can assist. It will balance the body’s energy system and gently help the self-healing of virtually any complaint.

The simple movements of qigong are often easier to perform than the postures and stances in yoga. There are many books and resources available to get you started with your qigong routine. The following are 2 easy Qigong movements.

Stance #1
Bring your palms facing toward one another in front of your stomach (as if you were holding a ball).
As you inhale, move your hands upward in a semi-circular motion in-between the level of your stomach and your chin. As you exhale, move your hands downward in a semi-circular motion from your chin level to your stomach level. This helps to detoxify your liver. (Repeat 1 – 5 minutes.)

Stance #2
Bring your hands towards the stomach. Position your right hand above your left hand, about 6” apart with palms facing one another. Move your right hand above your heart with your palm facing down. The left hand is below your heart, and your palm is facing upward. As you inhale, move your hands apart, when you exhale bring your palms closer. Repeat motion numerous times, then change arm position so that left hand is on top, and right hand is lower. (Repeat 1 – 5 minutes.)

But for those of you who love yoga, I recommend you try the following postures that may soothe your exhausted nerves and ease you into dreamland. Both are VERY easy to do even for non-yoga devotees.

Child’s Pose
This is a very simple resting pose that often elicits the natural feeling of total relaxation. Do you remember when you were a kid and tired from playing? It was so natural to put your head down and simply relax. You can do this on the floor or on your bed. Simply sit down with your legs underneath you, meaning your shins are flat on the floor or bed. Your buttocks are resting on the heels of your feet. Your knees are open about shoulder width apart. Then simply fold forward and rest your head on a pillow (or the floor). Your arms can be extended up beside your ears or resting by your hips. Hold this position for about 1 – 2 minutes. Take simple relaxing breaths, while thinking ‘calm’ and ‘relax’.

Legs Up the Wall (and heart above your head)
You’ll need a folded blanket or large pillow under your hips. Find a wall space or door face where you can stretch your legs up the wall. Your back is on the floor, your hips are on the blanket or pillow, and your legs are up the wall. Once you are in place, simply straighten your legs so that your heels rest on the wall. Make sure the blanket or pillow is thick enough to support your hips/weight, so that you are not stressing and straining to hold this position. It’s great to cover your eyes with a sleep mask or lavender/flax filled mask that helps to relief the tension in the tiny muscles surrounding your eyes. Hold this position for about 5 minutes. Having your legs upright and your heart slightly elevated above your head level really helps to cool and calm your nervous system.

As always, I wish you improved sleep!

Author's Bio: 

Author and Sleep Coach, Glenda Sparling, can help you overcome the challenges surrounding sleep issues and insomnia. Glenda has authored the e-book, The Spirit of Sleep,. which offers effective natural tools, techniques and behaviors for eliminating sleep anxiety and insomnia. To receive more resources, get the ABC’s of Sleeping Soundly Without Insomnia, click here: Free Insomniacs Anonymous Newsletter..