The importance of sleep
I think we all know how important it is to get a peaceful nights sleep. There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night, tossing and turning, feeling hot then cold and not being able to get back to sleep.
During the night our bodies regenerate. If you have had an all-nighter, before you go to bed look at the mirror. You may be surprised that you look as if you have aged a few years by not sleeping.
When you eventually wake up, you will have regenerated and look younger again! Magic…
With this COVID business, many people would have had sleepless nights due to worry, anxiety and all kinds of mixed emotions. Perhaps you, the reader, are one of them. This, in turn, brings about even more anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle.
As with all changes in life, there is always likely to be an upheaval. There are ways to support this process.
In this post I’ll cover the possible reasons for not being able to sleep and what you can do about it.
If your partner or your cat snores, well, that’s a different story altogether.
What causes sleeping issues?
There are so many possibilities as to why sleeping is an issue. Let’s have a look at a few examples:
Imagine you’re a busy mum or a workaholic that just doesn’t stop! The same goes for excessive thinking. Looping thoughts like an old record player…
Your mind might go like this: “Oooh I’ve got to pick up my laundry tomorrow morning, I need to go shopping, I must not forget to hand in the paperwork to my boss” etc…
Excessive and wandering thoughts can burn through your energy reserves. Do you ever get the feeling that you feel so tired, but you just can’t sleep?
Being a night shift worker then working dayshifts could potentially make you feel as if your are permanently jetlagged, There is great concern for the disruption of sleep(1). If someone tells me, “oh you just get used to it” I would say that it is like putting on a strong perfume which you smell at first and then get used to it. When people meet you on the street, they will be able to smell the perfum, even though you cannot.
The tiredness never went away. This could most certainly create a burnout! I know that there’s not much you can do about it because it’s a respectable career that puts food on the table. We’ll get to how you can support your body later, as that is the only thing you can do.
Trauma associated sleep disorder is real (TSD)(2). If you have had an abusive partner for years on end and you’re just hanging onto the relationship because its familiar, or because of finance support, or any other reason, this means that there’s a lot of stress hormones being pumped around the body for long periods of time. Not good!
Another traumatic experience could be that as a child, your father came home drunk and hit you in the early hours of the morning. As a protective mechanism, the body/mind will be on red alert and not allow a deep rest to occur in case you get attacked. It’s very important to feel safe.
Although not a trauma, even excitement can bring about sleep issues. I remember the night before Christmas I could hardly sleep because I was too excited about waking up the next day to find presents under a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
It’s 10 o’clock at night and I got the sugar munchies – do you ever get that? You go to your special sugar loaded “treat” cupboard and eat the night away!
A study conducted on the effects between a high sugar diet and sleep quality in prepubescent girls concluded that a diet high in sugar had a significant negative impact on the sleep stages (3).
Red Bull, coffee and black tea junkie
I think this goes without saying. Why drink a beverage that gives you an adrenaline spike at night when you need to rest?
Excessive blue light exposure
If you’re on the computer, or phone, or watching TV late at night, you are likely to be kept awake, disrupting the natural pattern of feeling tired.
A study conducted in 2016 investigated how humans were affected by the use of conventional LED or suppressed blue light, which is the most potent wavelength for sleep and mood, for 150 minutes from 7:30pm till 10pm (4).
It was concluded that the exposure to blue light was associated to a significant decrease in sleepiness and negatively impacted sleep.
There were other effects too such as, confusion-bewilderment, and increases in body temperature!
So if your body temperature increases, don’t think it might be COVID! Hey, it might just be that you were watching too many Netflix series!
An acute or chronic pain can certainly cause disruptions and quite possible wake you up throughout the night. `
Arthritis, fibromyalgia, restless legs, back pain, muscle soreness from an excessive workout can all contribute to lack of sleep.
If you are taking medication, it might be a good idea to look at the side effects to see if it can cause a sleep disorder.
Some drugs such as antidepressants (E.g. prozac, zoloft) and blood pressure (E.g. beta blockers bisoprolol and metoprolol) medication can affect sleep.
Exposure to Wifi and electromagnetic frequencies (EMF)
The human body uses electric to pump the heart, the brain is electric, our whole nervous system is electric.
We have our own electromagnetic field, and so does anything that carries electricity in it. That means, mobile devices, computers, laptops, unnatural lighting, microwaves, ovens etc…
If you’re like me that uses the mobile as an alarm, that’s fine but make sure the phone is in airplane mode and far, far away from you, preferably in another room!
Electromagnetic fields from devices such as the mobile can interact with our own electromagnetic field whilst we are sleeping, which can interrupt our regenerative processes.
The Wiley Online Library concluded that there was reduced sleep time and reduced sleep efficiency with exposure to an electrical field (5)
Also NeuroReport conducted a study with 50 participants exposed to electromagnetic fields for 30 minutes prior to sleep. The results showed that it promotes rapid eye movement and a modification of the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) in the first non-rapid eye movement sleep period (6).
Just so you know, rapid eye movement (REM) indicates the activity of the brain’s neurons being similar to that during waking hours.
What can I do to improve my sleep?
Here I can list some general advice, however, for any trauma related experiences, it would be wise to consult a therapist so that you can resolve the root cause.
Bedtime infusions to calm the spirit and nourish the body
A favorite combination of mine is chamomile and valerian root.
Chamomile is very soothing, calming, anti-inflammatory and helps digestive upsets of any kind .
Valerian root is a powerful sleep promoter despite it smelling of old socks! It has been well known and used for centuries for quieting the mind and healing the nervous system.
For chamomile (Maricaria recutita) use about 2 teaspoons per cup of boiled water. Steep covered to avoid the volatile oils from escaping for about 10 minutes. Strain if using loose herb and drink approximately 1 hour to 30 minutes before bedtime.
To properly prepare valerian root (Valeriana offficinalis) you will need to make this differently because it is a root and in order to extract the healing constituents you will need to boil it. Use about 2 teaspoons to a mug of boling water. Simmer, covered, for approximately 10 minutes. Strain and drink 1 hour to 30 minutes before bedtime.
You can even combine these 2 herbs together! You may add a little honey to sweeten it.
Note: make sure you are getting the freshest herb as once they are harvested, they contain their healing strength and properties for about a year.
There are some supplements that can help:
Melatonin: this hormone releases when it gets dark, promoting relaxation and sleep. This is why its important to have the least exposure to any form of artificial lighting before sleep, as well as making sure you sleep in total darkness!
Melatonin has a myriad of benefits including and not limited to: blood pressure, cardiovascular regulation, immune system regulation, detoxification of free radicals, anti-tumor, anti-cancer, and anti-depressive and anxiolytic benefits. (7)
L-Tryptophan: an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, the feel good hormone!
Evidence has shown that with 1 gram or more produces an increase in sleepiness and that the best results has been found for those with insomnia. (8)
Magnesium: A well known mineral and is considered to be deficient in many people. There are many reasons for magnesium malabsorption which will require a blog of its own, therefore I will not go into details here.
This mineral could be particularly helpful if you get aches, pains, muscle cramps, and restless legs. It is a muscle relaxant and can facilitate sleep.
Supplementation of 500 mg of magnesium significantly improved people with insomnia, sleep time regulation, sleep efficiency (9).
Bach flower remedies
In kinesiology, I use Bach flower remedies to help ease emotional imbalances. There are some useful ones, such as:
White Chestnut: This is good for any excessive repeating thoughts. A mind spinning out of control that stops you from sleeping.
Rescue remedy: A five flower combination good for any kind of general stress and upsets.
Based upon the above factors, it is a good idea to form some good habits!
Going to bed at a reasonable time: Your liver is most active energetically from the time 1am till 3am, so it is good to be in a very deep sleep by then to help the organ of detoxification do its job!
Have some time before bed to relax without being exposed to unnatural light and EMF: In this way, you are able to produce a balanced amount of melatonin inducing good sleep. If it helps, soaking in a bathtub with some drops of lavender, listening to some healing music with some lit natural beeswax/soy wax candles for a gentle ambience can induce relaxation.
Leave a window open in the bedroom: Even if it’s cold just open the window a little bit to let fresh air in. It’s good to sleep in a well ventilated area with plenty of fresh air. Just make sure you do not have a draft hitting you directly otherwise you might wake up with a sore throat!
Sleep in total darkness with any electrical devices away from you. This will encourage good melatonin production and the EMF from devices will not interact with your own energy field. If it is absolutely impossible to stay away from any device, you may wish to purchase a grounding sheet, or EMF net that goes around your bed that has the added function of keeping away pesky mosquitoes.
Do not lie down with a full stomach. It’s a good idea to eat your last meal of the day, as a bare minimum, 2 hours before going to bed.
Reiki is a gentle healing therapy which addresses energetical imbalances which then have an affect on the physical. It enhances well-being and clarity.
Reflexology stimulates the reflex areas of the feet that pertain to all organs glands and parts of the body.
By stimulating the adrenals and other parts of the hormonal system, it can help with any imbalances that involve sleep disturbance and quality. By promoting circulation to areas of congestion, the body has more capacity for regeneration and healing.
Kinesiology is a very complex and holistic therapy which addresses the root cause of the imbalance. The body informs what exactly is going on via a method of communication involving the muscles of the body. Corrections are made using a variety of different techniques.
For example, someone who is tired all the time but cannot get to sleep easily, can be supported by working the entire hormonal system. Emotions that are affecting the hormonal system can be detected and addressed.
There might be food intolerances affecting it too and therefore, food intolerance testing can also be done.
Checking for viruses, bacteria, fungi, heavy metals imbalances are all part of healing using kinesiology.
The body will also be able to confirm what supplements, herbs it needs and if there are any deficiencies.
Free technique used within kinesiology
A technique I commonly use within kinesiology to help bring down excessive thoughts and energy down is called the cloacals.
At night, whilst lying down, simply use the index and middle finger and lightly touch the points in step one in the image below.
Each of these holding points can be held for about 1 minute.
Step 1: Lightly touch the points on the mid-brow on the right side and the pubic bone on the right side.
Step 2: Touch the mid-brow on the right side and touch the pubic bone on the left side.
Step 3: Now, touch the points on the mid-brow on the left side and the pubic bone on the left side.
Step 2: Lastly, touch the mid-brow on the left side and touch the pubic bone on the right side.
Last but not least
Have compassion for your body. Try not to place too many demands on the body. Thoughts can be very harsh towards oneself and it is important to be aware of those those and replace them with healing ones.
Have compassion and gratitude for all that your body does. Feel the aliveness within the body. This is your awareness.
With your mind, use your thoughts to soothe and calm the body for a restful, healing and restorative nights sleep.
(1) Journal of Human Ecology. Sleep problems in night and shift work.
(2) ScienceDirect. Trauma associated sleep disorder: A parasomnia induced by trauma
(3) Research Gate. Abstracts of 4th International Congress of WASM & 5th Conference of CSS / Sleep Medicine 12, Suppl. 1 (2011) S1–S130
(4) ScienceDirect. Effects of smartphone use with and without blue light at night in healthy adults: A randomized, double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled comparison
(5) Wiley Online Library. A 50‐Hz electromagnetic field impairs sleep. 05 January 2002
(6) NeuroReport. The effect of electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones on human sleep. 2005 – volume 16 – issue 17 – p 1973-1976
(7) NCBO. Melatonin: Pharmacology, Functions and Therapeutic Benefits. 2017
(8) Ernest Hartmann. Effects of L-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep. 2002
(9) Gerry K. Schwarzenberg and Stephen J. Genuis. The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. 2017