Struggling to sleep … not me … fortunately, as I don’t function well without sleep. My easy sleep habits disgust many friends. One friends calls it, ‘the sleep of the innocent’, and another, ‘just rudely fortunate’.
While I am not entirely sure what it is, I am often working with people who struggle to sleep. These symptoms can vary from mild forms of sleeplessness to total and utter debilitating insomnia.
The most consistent thing I have come to note in this work is what often sits at the basis of sleeplessness. After working together we mostly find that it is ‘anger’ sitting at the bottom of every sleepless night. This is good old garden variety, nonspecific anger. Though many people describe their sleeplessness as being driven by; money worries, health concerns, child / partner / parent worry, work difficulties etc, this can be and often is, true. However if we are able to spend time delving deeper into the symptoms we find anger lurking in those spaces.
While it might be dressed up as any of the above, I find it more useful to think into the sleepless culprit, as anger. Anger is a powerful internal process that gnaws at our every fibre, specifically our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. If we are actually able to track back a distressing feeling … we will most often find anger.
Having said that, fear is usually hidden or disguised under and around that anger, however alone, without professional help, fear is very difficult to excavate. Finding anger is much more accessible.
If we can get to our feelings of anger, allow them words, space … even a narrative, it is likely we will sleep (and live) more harmoniously.
People often ask me about meditation as an activity to assist sleep. While I would say yes, conditionally, that condition is as long as you are not using meditation to supress those real feelings … feeling that need to be understood.
Disturbingly many people I work with have spent years ‘meditating’ to perfection. When we pull it apart, we come to learn, together, that they have in fact been working very hard to supress that which needs to be heard, listened to, sorted, nurtured and dispelled. For it is only at the liberation, not suppression, of those emotion, that we may fully recover.
While I hope this gives some minor insight into sleeplessness, I usually also share with clients two little recipes that have helped hundreds of people I have worked with, fall into a slumber while we excavate those feelings.
It goes a little like this …
When your night is done … and hopefully it has not been constantly in front of a screen. While I do not believe the screen is the predominate issue, as sleeplessness existed long before screens, screens do interfere with the process of sleep. This is because of the blue light that is emitted. This light restrains the production of a hormone that controls our sleep and waking cycle, or our circadian rhythm. The reduction of this hormone, melatonin, makes it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. So please be aware of that.
Allora, the first recipe is:
Totally prepare for bed … jamies on, dog out … or in, bedcovers pulled down, alarm clock set … whatever your, ‘lights-out’ routine is. Because when you do the next step you are going to head to bed without anything else to do.
In the kitchen warm up a mug of milk (dairy, coconut, almond, rice etc) to a tepid temperature, so that it is easy to drink. Add a few drops of vanilla and a tiny amount of sweetener of your choice.
Trot off to bed, clamber in sitting up to slowly sip your sleep-brew. Please do nothing else now. When the brew is finished put the light out and snuggle down into your cosy position in bed.
Hopefully this will help you nod off more easily.
Repeat every night for four weeks to break your interrupted circadian rhythms.
The second recipe is a superfruit: Kiwi
Buy in enough kiwi fruit for at least one week to start with, at two per night = 14.
Each night prepare yourself as per the start of your closing-down-for-the-day-routine and preparing your ‘lights out’ as above. However forty minutes to an hour before bed, peel and consume two kiwi fruit. Try not to be doing anything else once you begin this winding down process. Once the kiwi fruit has been consumed find your way to bed winding down the whole time. Then lights out and snuggle down … hopefully into sleep-land.
Repeat for four weeks to break your interrupted circadian rhythms.
Just to add that kiwi fruit have both serotonin and folate, which contribute in different ways to improving our sleep.
Remember that lack of sleep is the culprit for many, many, serious health ails.
I hope these thoughts and two ideas go some way to assisting your sleep patterns.
NB I will write more on anger and fear later.