Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

Navigate / Profile / Search

Profile

Trouble Sleeping?

Sleep is an expression of the regenerative processes within your body. Sleeping hours are the time when you recover from the activities of the day, direct your energies inward and start building forces to meet the coming day. Because sleep is the opposite of active engagement with the world, falling asleep should be easy, right? You don't have to do anything special, we just stop your daytime activities and you should be able to go right to sleep. This may make sense logically, but it is a fallacy, mostly because sleep, is not just shutting off our thinking--it is actually transitioning into a whole different activity. And falling asleep for most people isn't just like flipping a switch, its a transition that need to be nurtured and supported. In fact, the idea of supporting the way our body transitions its activity has been forgotten in many different areas.

This is partly because we are all trying to fit so many things into our day, partially because we have become more and more accustomed to things being quick (especially if we are impatient!). Think of food--when we are hungry, or when it's dinner time--we are ready to eat. And so if we can grab food, which is ideally ready instantly (or second best only takes as long as it takes to stand in line at the fast food restaurant, or to work the microwave), then we are ready to eat! But this, actually, is not how our body should work, because we digest a meal so much better when we are involved with the preparation through our eyes, smell the aroma of cooking food in the air, and sit down at a table with time and consciousness to really notice what we are eating. That's probably part of why taking the time to eat food in an elegant restaurant tastes so good-- you are ready for it. Now take those same images and apply them to sleep. Imagine going to a place that specialized only in sleep, with a Maitre'd that showed you to a sparkling tub with a hot bath, then provided incredibly soft pajamas, and finally escorted you to a soft bed. Sounds like gourmet sleeping, indeed!

Before the advent of electricity, when the only sources of light after sunset were candles and lanterns, the transition into sleep was easier. People rightfully knew when the day was done, and when it was time for bed. We don't have that sensation very often any more, because we are technologically emancipated from the transition to slow evening activity. Most of our leisure technologies--television, movies, internet, screens large and small--provide us with stimulus at all hours. Cell phones are tremendously convenient, but it also means we are available to talk to long after the day ends. And smart phones make email possible nights, holidays, weekends, car rides, or while waiting in line to get food. The challenge is that all of these opportunities for communication and sensory input quickly create expectations, and neurologic patterns, that expect us to be vigilant and interactive all of the time. Don't believe it? Then do a little test: one evening, power off any electronics with batteries, then turn off the power to your house (just leave the refrigerator shut). Experience how initially unsettling, but ultimately satisfying it is to listen for all the things you didn't realize you were listening to. This is important, because the transition to sleep is ultimately a process of allowing and reminding your body how to peacefully release from the world around you.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get more tips on making your transition to sleep better and more consistent...

Read more...

Before the advent of electricity, when the only sources of light after sunset were candles and lanterns, the transition into sleep was easier. People rightfully knew when the day was done, and when it was time for bed. We don't have that sensation very often any more, because we are technologically emancipated from the transition to slow evening activity. Most of our leisure technologies--television, movies, internet, screens large and small--provide us with stimulus at all hours. Cell phones are tremendously convenient, but it also means we are available to talk to long after the day ends. And smart phones make email possible nights, holidays, weekends, car rides, or while waiting in line to get food. The challenge is that all of these opportunities for communication and sensory input quickly create expectations, and neurologic patterns, that expect us to be vigilant and interactive all of the time. Don't believe it? Then do a little test: one evening, power off any electronics with batteries, then turn off the power to your house (just leave the refrigerator shut). Experience how initially unsettling, but ultimately satisfying it is to listen for all the things you didn't realize you were listening to. This is important, because the transition to sleep is ultimately a process of allowing and reminding your body how to peacefully release from the world around you.

Tips to help you sleep

Here are some tips that can help the process. For children, the idea of a bedtime ritual is not so foreign. For them, it is really essential because they are slowly learning how to self-soothe themselves into sleep. For many adults, this process needs some conscious nurturing too.

 

Avoid screens (computer, TV, phone) for the two hours before going to bed. Even if you think the content is calming, the very rapid, blinking of the screen is visually, and neurologically stimulating. For kids, no screens are best (that will have to be a different newsletter). Similarly, try not to eat any food in the two hours before going to bed.

Create some predictable routine around going to bed. Consistency builds healthy physiologic habits, so that after a while your body will know, "oh, brushing teeth means it's time to sleep soon." Children who always say a verse or prayer before going to sleep very consistently yawn before they have gotten all the way through it. The verse signifies that it is time to begin transitioning, and the start to soften their awareness from that point on.

Mark a conscious threshold, from an area of waking activities to sleeping activities. For kids, do wrestling, or cuddling, or story on the couch, then transition into the bedroom only when it is time to really go to sleep. Too many activities in bed, especially if they are prolonged, confuse and dissipate the power of transition. Once in bed, there should only be a short time (minutes really) before the light is out and it's time to sleep.

Once you figure out your ritual, try not to disrupt it. Think about anything needed for the next day before starting the bedtime process (this takes a little discipline, but it's worth it). Honor your sleeping time. Time for sleep is not a failure, it is essentially for balancing and supporting all of our daytime activity. Getting stuck in hyper-vigilance will eventually make you sick.

Nurturing the transition into sleep in these ways is a helpful activity, and one which we can consciously influence. Other imbalances, which are more a reflection of disturbed inner physiology than a stuck, wakeful process, benefit most from specific therapies.

 

There are also many non-addictive, natural remedies that can assist you in resetting a good sleep pattern:

Waking in the middle of the night, especially at about 3-4 am without a specific need (like having to get up to go to the bathroom, or needing a drink of water) is often related to a liver imbalance. In this case, avoidance of heavy protein and fats at the evening meal is important because it better matches the intrinsic digestive patterns of the liver. Herbal medications, liver compresses, and rhythmical massage can also be very helpful for balancing liver rhythm.

Nightmares, night-terrors and sleep-walking all come when a transitional sleep stage gets stuck-- for example being awake enough to sit up, yell, open the eyes and move (which happen in a sleep terror), but not yet awake enough truly respond to the world around, or to remember it the next day. We commonly use homeopathic medicines to help shift the sleep process, so that there is a both deeper sleep and a complete waking process.

Difficulty waking in the morning may mean that parts of our physiology are stuck in sleep mode. Our eyes are open, but on many other levels we are not ready. This is especially true if you don't really have any appetite in the morning. There are a variety of non-caffeinated methods to stimulate the body, including dry skin brushing, bitters, and natural medicines.

Sensory Nutrition

Sign up for our monthly newsletter and receive an information packet of materials, including Dr. Blanning's article on Sensory Nutrition.


Get Started


What Clients Say...

... Over the past six years, I have been a patient of Dr. Adam Blanning. It has been a stellar experience! During conversations, he is an attentive listener, intuitive, while inviting collaborative dialogue.

The fruits of his comprehensive, cohesive knowledge are deeply rooted in many years of experience. With great integrity he offers practical insights in medicants, artistic options, & life style adjustments. He is the genuine article -someone I have come to trust. Read More

replica watches | rolex replica uk | tag heuer replica | rolex replica