Picture the scene: it’s been a long and tiring day. You’ve finally made it to bed, your body is exhausted, but for some reason you can’t sleep! You lie there wishing you could just close your eyes and drift off, but your mind is racing and it doesn’t seem to care that you will have to get up again in a few hours. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone; one in four Americans develops insomnia each year. If you are one of the tens of millions of people who are chronically exhausted because of insomnia, we’ve got a simple exercise that might help you get some much-needed rest.
It’s no secret, we’re living in a sleep-deprived society. Sleep deprivation not only leaves us exhausted, irritable, and unfocused, but it can also put our health at risk. Long-term sleep deprivation can contribute to an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and stroke.
More importantly than just getting 8 hours of sleep is getting enough deep, consistent, quality sleep. Irregular sleep patterns have been linked to problems like hormone imbalance, leaky gut, and brain fog. Sleep loss even alters the gut flora and can disrupt the hormone system,resulting in an increase in cortisol (stress) levels and weight gain. As you probably know, the nervous system in our microbiome is in constant communication with our brain via the vagus nerve. When the balance in our microbiome is upset, the vagus nerve sends stress signals to the brain, inducing a stress response that can make us feel irritable or emotional over things that are really not that big of a deal.
How you end your day has a big influence on how you will feel in the morning. To avoid waking up groggy and tired, try some gentle exercise and breathing before bed. In particular, you want to circulate energy in your body and bring it down to your lower half. You can do this by bringing your awareness into your body with vibration and light movement. Without further ado, here’s a simple and effective exercise you can do while lying down in bed: toe tapping.
You can do toe tapping sitting in an upright posture but for deeper relaxation you’ll want to try it lying on your back. Start by lying comfortably on your back and close your eyes. Extend your arms about 30 degrees to the side of your body and open your hands with the palms facing up. With your heels together, shake your feet in and out, gradually increasing the speed of your movements.. Focus on your toes. It’s important to keep bringing your mind back to your toes because energy flows where the mind goes. Exhale through your mouth, expelling the stagnant energy and calming any busy thoughts and emotions. After doing about 100 reps, rest for one minute and pay attention to how your body feels.
At this point you’ll probably feel a heaviness or vibration in your legs. This means you’re doing it right. Keep exhaling comfortably, visualizing stagnant energy flowing out through the tips of your fingers and toes. A tingling sensation is a sign of heavy energy leaving your body. Repeat the toe tapping exercise two or three more times and you should notice that you feel lighter and more relaxed than when you started. You might even fall asleep before you get to the third set!
Toe tapping can help to stimulate the circulation of blood and energy, especially in your lower body. This naturally will help you get out of your head and feel more prepared for deep, restful sleep. With regular practice you’ll find that your mind and body can relax more quickly and easily. To make toe tapping even more effective, try adding a few other sleep-promoting techniques to your evening routine, like limiting blue light exposure and not eating right before bed.
Who knew that the way to beat insomnia might be with your feet? Toe tapping is a beneficial exercise that almost anyone can do. Here’s more good news: toe tapping isn’t only for overcoming insomnia. Take a few minutes and do toe tapping in the afternoon if you need a way to relax your muscles, clear your mind, and recharge your energy. Whether you do it during the day or before bed, try it for one week and let us know how you feel!