Sleep: Reshaping Your Beliefs
I am often asked whether there is anything that will help people sleep better. The problem is, like so many things in life, whilst there are natural remedies which can help people to sleep better there is not a simple one size fits all solution. We are all individual, and the reasons why we may be having problems with sleep are many and varied.
For example, I had one gentleman come to see me a few years ago – the reason he was struggling to get to sleep at night was because he spent 4-5 hours in bed in the afternoon, every day, to make up for the lack of sleep at night. The trouble with this was obvious – he had completely reset his body clock and was not tired or ready for sleep when night time fell!
So, over the next few blog posts, I am going to look at the different ways we can try and improve our sleep – as well as some important do’s and don’ts.
THINK ABOUT YOUR BELIEFS AROUND YOUR SLEEP PATTERNS.
This one is really important, and it made a huge difference to me after years of struggling with insomnia.
If we go to bed thinking that we are unlikely to sleep that night – or even with the thought ‘I hope I get some sleep tonight’ – then a lack of sleep becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and one which re-enforces your belief that you cannot sleep.
I realised, on reading this, that my stock response to my husband when he said “sleep well” was “let’s all hope so!”. With a large element of doubt thrown in. I realised that I did not believe that I could sleep, with the common result that I did not.
How did I change that? I engaged with 3 things, which made a huge difference to me:
1. TOOK A HERBAL REMEDY DESIGNED TO HELP ME RELAX
My main issue at the time was that I was a stress head, worrying about everything and nothing. So I started using a herbal remedy made with Passiflora and Avena Sativa, both of which are said to be calming and relaxing.
I did not take these at bedtime. I wasn’t just taking them to help me sleep, I was taking them to help me calm down and feel less stressed each and every day. So, I took one with my breakfast and one with my evening meal.
2. I TRIED TO CHANGE MY THINKING
Again, not just at bedtime. Yes it was true that I was struggling to sleep, but that was because I was worrying about everything. This was happening all day – not just at night.
I knew that, if I wanted to change how I slept at night, I needed to stop worrying and stressing during the day as well. For me there were two main things which helped me with this…
A. A quote from a movie! In Fantastic Beasts (my daughter’s favourite) the main character states – ‘I don’t worry, it only means you suffer twice’. This made a huge amount of sense to me. I also realised that by spending my time worrying about things, that might not even happen, I was planning for them and making them more likely! I needed to just trust that I would cope with whatever life threw at me and stop trying to plan for and control it.
B. A book called ‘The Chimp Paradox’, which gave me a fascinating insight into how my brain works and how to remain calm and logical in the face of stress. By learning to gain control of my ‘inner chimp’ (my emotional brain) I learned how to stop engaging in things which made me feel upset.
3. I LEARNT SOME RELAXATION TECHINQUES
One mistake we all make when struggling to get to sleep is to lie there worrying, about the time, the number of hours left in the night, the amount of sleep we might get and how long it is going to take to get off to sleep. By engaging in relaxation techniques that I had to concentrate on, I was able to stop all that, relax, and ultimately get to sleep quickly and easily every night.
The one that worked for me is a simple breathing technique – breathing in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8. The counting gave me something simple to think about, and this technique is simple and relaxing, sending all the right messages to your brain.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in health foods stores and private clinics for over 20 years)