There are few habits as universally odd as that of tucking your thumb in when you sleep. But there’s a reason for this strange behavior — and it’s not just for comfort. It’s because you’re trying to keep the evils of nightmares at bay with the old “tiger’s claw” trick. While its origins aren’t entirely clear, the practice of this odd habit has been around for many centuries. Read on to discover why people tuck their thumbs in when they sleep and its historical significance
Why Do I Tuck My Thumb In My Hand When I Sleep?
When we sleep, our bodies produce the hormone melatonin, which aids in the production of serotonin, a hormone that promotes feelings of calmness and happiness. Tucking your thumbs into your fists while sleeping blocks the flow of melatonin, which in turn increases the levels of serotonin. This essentially gives you a free, natural therapy session to relax and de-stress before going to bed. It’s important to note that this thumb-tucking trick works best for those who suffer from mild anxiety in the first place. If you suffer from severe anxiety, tucking your thumbs into your fists while sleeping may make the symptoms worse.
Studies show that when we sleep our breathing rate slows down, causing us to take in less air than we need. Tucking your thumbs into your fists while you sleep forces your hands to stay open so that your thumb is always tucked into your palm. This keeps your hands from closing up, which helps your breathing stay normal as you sleep. Thanks to our thumbs, our hands are the only part of our bodies that aren’t entirely self-sufficient. While holding something with your left hand, for example, the thumb of your right hand is likely to be tucked into your palm. This means that the muscles of your thumbs are always being used, even when you’re asleep.
Increased Hand Muscle Flexibility
When you sleep with your thumbs tucked into your fists, your hands stay open. This means that the muscles that control your hands are engaged and flexible. The more you use your hand muscles, the more flexible they become. This is especially important for the elderly and people who suffer from arthritis and other joint-related diseases. Keeping your hands open while sleeping improves flexibility, which in turn helps prevent the onset of arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
In Chinese medicine, the liver is believed to be the organ that “processes” emotions. Tucking your thumbs into your fists promotes open-palm sleeping positions, which in turn activates the liver and promotes feelings of serenity and relaxation. This aids in digestion since the liver is responsible for breaking down food and getting rid of harmful toxins in the body. When you’re feeling stressed out and frazzled, your body experiences a rush of fight-or-flight hormones, which are great in times of danger but terrible for everyday life. These hormones put your liver (and the rest of your body) into overdrive, causing it to work overtime and become sluggish when it’s not needed. Sleeping with your thumbs tucked into your fists activates your liver and keeps it running smoothly even when you’re asleep.
It gives you stability and comfort.
If you’re a thumb-tucker, you may find that it gives you stability and comfort while you’re sleeping. It’s just one more thing that keeps both of your hands away from your face and mouth while you’re sleeping, which can help you to breathe better. If you’re a side-sleeper, keeping both of your hands away from your face will help to keep you from snoring, as well as keep your partner from getting poked in the eye.
How To Stop The Bad Dreams: Practice Tucking Your Thump In While Waking Hours?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT is based on the idea that thoughts are like seeds that need to be planted and tended. Once they take root and grow you can’t just pull them out — they’re there to stay. So CBT focuses on recognizing those thoughts and actively challenging the ones that cause you distress. We’re not going to delve into all the details and nuances of CBT here. But it’s safe to say that CBT is like a Swiss Army Knife of ways to combat recurring negative thoughts and subconscious fears. And it can be used for all sorts of bad dreams, from dental nightmares to forgetting to bring something on a plane.
Tuck Your Thumb In While You Sleep
This may sound silly. But it’s not. The position we sleep in can have a significant impact on what we dream about. And it can affect the length of our sleep cycles. Longer cycles can make us more likely to be flooded with negative thoughts while dreaming. Shorter cycles can make us more likely to wake up before the negative thoughts have a chance to be processed. If you’d like to shorten your sleep cycles, you can stack the deck in your favor by sleeping with your hands in a position that encourages shorter sleep cycles. One way to do this is to gently tuck your thumb into your palm while you sleep. Studies show that this position can shorten your sleep cycles by as much as 10 minutes.
Do Something That Calms You Before Bed
Bad dreams tend to be triggered by stress. So anything you can do to lower your stress before bed can help reduce the likelihood of triggering a bad dream. One simple way to do this is by meditating before bedtime. There are many different ways you can meditate. The key is to do something that focuses your attention inward and slows your breathing. And don’t worry — you don’t need to be a monk or a yogi to do this. There are simple and straightforward ways to meditate that can be done by anyone, anywhere, at any time. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these online guided meditation videos.
Write A Morning Self-Care Note
Bad dreams can leave us feeling worried, embarrassed or insecure. And those feelings are likely to linger in our subconscious throughout the day, making us more likely to have a bad dream. The best way to combat this is to actively remind yourself that it’s over and that you’re OK. There are many ways to do this. But one strategy that can be especially effective is to write a self-care note to yourself before going to sleep. The note can be about anything that makes you feel good. But it should tie into the feeling you’re having about the bad dream. For example, if you had a bad dream about forgetting to bring your laptop charger on a trip, the next morning you could write a self-care note that reminds you that it’s over and that you’ve learned from it so it’s less likely to happen again.
The thumb tuck is a strange, yet common, practice that is often practiced by people while they are sleeping. While there are many theories surrounding the significance of thumb tucking while sleeping, the most common theory is that it is a way to fend off bad dreams. The best way to stop bad dreams and the thumb tuck is to practice tucking your thumb in while you’re awake. It’s important to remember that it takes time to break these types of habits, but it can be done.