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How to Treat Sleep Disorders

By Rubin Naiman

In treating sleep disorders, I'm a strong advocate of integrating the best of conventional and alternative interventions, because successful treatment frequently requires adjunctive medical, nutritional, somatic, and other therapies. Some of the specific recommendations I make to clients include:

Rest Practices

Rest practices refer to a range of standard relaxation techniques that support nightmindedness and healthy sleep. These include meditation, prayer, self-hypnosis, neurofeedback, gentle yoga, and breathing exercises. Journaling, expressive arts, and light reading are ideal rest practices for dusk simulation. The yoga technique called Yoga Nidra or "yogic sleep" is particularly useful for cultivating a deeper awareness of sleep.

The 4-7-8 Breath

This breathing exercise is quick, simple, portable, and effective for quelling anxiety and promoting rest. It can be done sitting up or lying down.

Begin by placing and holding the tip of the tongue against the ridge behind the upper front teeth. You'll be inhaling quietly through your nose and exhaling with a whooshing sound through your mouth:

1) Exhale completely through your mouth.

2) ‑Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to the count of 4.

3) Hold your breath to the count of 7.

4) Exhale completely through your mouth to a count of 8.

This constitutes one breathing cycle. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. While the actual time you spend on each segment isn't important, the ratio of 4:7:8 is. Practice this two to three times each day.

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