Great Way to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
When you have insomnia, your troubles don’t begin when you lay your head on your pillow, says Ramadevi Gourineni, MD, director of the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. People who can’t sleep typically suffer from too much arousal—where their mind races and their body pumps out excess adrenaline—all day long. Gourineni wondered if relaxing the mind during the day might help chronic insomniacs sleep better later. So she and her colleagues taught a handful of insomniacs to meditate (by focusing intently on the parts of their body, on light and sound, and on their breath). They were instructed to practice this twice a day for about 15 minutes each time. After two months, the group was compared with another that learned about improving general health and lifestyle habits. Although both groups boosted their total sleep time, the meditators spent less time tossing and turning in the middle of the night.
Make it work: People in this study practiced a type of meditation known as “kriya yoga” (the kind featured in the classic Autobiography of a Yogi), but Gourineni believes that any regular relaxation process, including yoga, tai chi or deep relaxation, can unwind you enough to get those perfect zzzzs at night.
Quell Nausea the Asian Way
Nausea and vomiting after abdominal surgery are about the toughest types of queasiness to counter. Experts estimate that up to 70 percent of patients succumb after having an operation. Amazingly, something as simple as stimulating acupuncture points on the ear proved so effective that not a single woman undergoing major gallbladder surgery in an Iranian study threw up afterwards, and only 6 percent said they’d felt nauseated (compared with 66 percent and 74 percent, respectively, for a control group). In the study, needles were inserted during the surgery into acupuncture points on the ear, and were stimulated for two minutes at a time while the patients rested in the recovery room.
Make it work: If you get nauseated regularly for any reason, you might want to consult a trained acupuncturist. You can also try do-it-yourself acupressure when a more minor urge to upchuck strikes: place your index and middle fingers across your wrist at the base of the palm to find the point most used for nausea, known as P6. It’s located in the groove in the center between the two large tendons. Press on that point for a few minutes until the sensation passes.
Move Yourself to Calm
Everyone touts yoga as a great stress reducer, but does it work in women who are plagued with anxiety? Yes, found Iranian researchers. They gave 65 women an anxiety questionnaire, then had half of them take two 90-minute hatha yoga classes a week. After two months, anxiety levels were tested again. Before starting the yoga, 41 percent of the women said life had them feeling anxious, but after the classes the percentage was slashed in half. The researchers believe yoga makes you aware of the tension you’re holding in various parts of your body and teaches you how to release it.
Make it work: It’s easy to find a yoga classes in gyms and studios. If you prefer to downward dog in the privacy of your home, great DVDs include Rodney Yee’s “Yoga for Beginners” and Sara Ivanhoe’s beachfront workout, “Yoga on the Edge.”