Most people need between 6-8 hours of sleep a night, but when you factor in work, family, workouts and life – only about 30% of us are actually logging that much time. I can’t even begin to emphasize how important sleep is for the function of your body. Without it, you’re more susceptible to stress, have trouble focusing, your metabolism goes haywire and cognitive function decreases. Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic about what happens when your brain doesn’t sleep! While a nap every afternoon would be fantastic, most of us don’t have access to that luxury. You’re only option to log quality sleep is at night, but what to do if you can’t unwind fast enough or need pharmaceuticals just to fall or stay asleep?

Lucky for us, our body has many built in mechanisms that will lull your senses into deep relaxation. One way is to mechanically stimulate a specialized nerve ending called Ruffini endings, which are peppered throughout your fluffy superficial fascia layer (the layer directly beneath the skin). It’s really not as complicated as it sounds, I promise! Ruffini endings respond to stretching of the skin, which can easily be accomplished with a grippy, rubber ball that has a ton of grip – aka, a Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball. Rolling anywhere on your body will stimulate the Ruffini endings, which in turn, inhibit sympathetic activity. They literally flip the switch from fight or flight to rest and digest, preparing you for a deeply relaxing sleep.

For me, the closer the YTU ball placement is to my head, the more relaxing it is. My favorite places to roll before sleep are the neck, jaw, or temple. You will roll into bed with a clear mind and fluffy jaw. This is especially great for anyone who is a clenches, grinds their teeth or suffers from TMJ.  Check out the video below to see how to do it! (Email subscribers – click this link to watch)

Another great way to coax your nervous system into more parasympathetic tone (versus sympathetic/flight or flight) is meditation. Before you run off because you’re adverse to woo woo – meditation can be as complicated as alternate nostril breathing or as simple as breathing, which you’re already doing now. Learn more about super simple meditation in my previous blog, Resolutions, schmesolutions.

What do you do to help wind down for sleep? Let me know in the comments, on twitter, or Facebook!