Sleep is a natural body function during which we are
relatively unconscious and the muscles that we normally control are relaxed. The result of sleep is a refreshment of the nervous system (including the brain) and of the muscles. Sleep plays a central role in everyone's life and as
we age, our bodies normally require less sleep. Infants require from 12 to 14 hours while seniors may require from 6 to 8 hours.
Sleep is initiated by specialized areas in the brain. Certain brain areas are also responsible for
wakefulness. There are various stages of sleep which are defined by body motions as well as by the character of the electrical activity in the brain.
When we have persistent difficulty in falling asleep, clock
watching should be avoided. Sometimes very slow, deep breathing can encourage drowsiness. It can be helpful to get out of bed and do a quiet activity that is relaxing. (This might be reading or writing, for examples.) Remaining in
bed while you cannot sleep is usually not helpful. We can also promote a better sleep on our own by altering our diets, by changing our lifestyles, and with medications.
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