Topic: Sleep

Sleep part 6 – Sleeping soundly

Do you sleep well?

I used to. I used to sleep so many hours and so easily. And then, I started to share a bed and, even worse (for my sleep!), became a mother… both of which seem to have interfered with my ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and remain that way until the alarm wakes me.

My sleep got broken!

How do you fix broken sleep? After all, it should be so natural, right? We’re born to it and whilst it can take a few years, we usually sleep really well as children – deep, peaceful, restful and undisturbed sleep. Not always, of course, because life happens as well, but generally, it’s that way.

I think I have fixed my sleep…

What did I do?

I have been using the most unlikely practice.

I am using ‘sleep tape’ at night. No, it isn’t an old fashioned way of talking about pre-recorded music on a cassette, I am putting medical tape over my mouth at night! Sounds weird, huh? I started 3 weeks ago and my sleep is transformed. It’s really as simple as that.

The full glory of sleep taping…

I have had the best sleep in years since I started doing this peculiar thing and I hear from others that they are experiencing the same.

CAUTION: this is not suitable if you have sinus congestion or a cold

However, there are many, many scenarios in which this may improve your sleep too!

Are you game to give it a go? What have you got to lose?

Let me know if you experiment with sleep tape and how you got on.

With thanks to Ben Wolff and James Nestor for awakening me to this idea.

Sleep Part 3 – Stop trying!

You’re not sleeping well. You feel like you haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in a long time. I hear you. It’s an awful feeling. You know that everything in your body is not functioning optimally and you are putting yourself at higher risk of every ailment and serious disease going.

So, what do you do?

First things first, the research shows that the more we worry about not getting to sleep or having enough sleep, the less well we sleep! So, STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT!

Problem solved.

What do you mean that didn’t work?

It’s so much easier said than done. I remember right in the midst of my new-baby no sleep phase that I felt like I was broken. That my ability to sleep had been broken. I thought I would never sleep again. And, I thought I would die through lack of sleep. I felt terrible. I spent so long teetering right on the edge of being asleep but as soon as I noticed, or my partner moved, or the radiator creaked, I would ping back into wakefulness. I lay awake in my bed for hours failing. It became a place I loathed.

So, how do we stop thinking about not sleeping? How do we shift out of being ‘a bad sleeper’ into being someone who doesn’t have a label for their sleep, they just do it.

Warning: no quick solution!

We start with the daytime. We listen to our inner voice and hear how we are talking to ourselves. How are we mentioning our sleep? What do you hear?

What do you hear?

‘I’m such a bad sleeper’ ‘I’m an insomniac’ ‘I just can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep’

I think our brains and our thoughts are very powerful. When we tell ourselves these things repeatedly even if it seems as though it is just the truth of the situation, how can our bodies do anything but continue to obey?

I think this is a very powerful concept and one I use a lot when I work with my herbal patients and EFT clients.

I needed a lot of extra help to get back the skill of sleep. I wish I had known of the tools I now have and use with my patients. I think I would have been in a very different situation from the one I actually found myself in. And, in spite of that wish, I know that I learned a huge amount from my experience as that drove me to look for more tools. I also firmly believe that the best we can do with our toughest paths is to find the silver lining and use it to our eventual advantage which is where I am now. I know that my skill set is so suited to that kind of situation that I can help more and more people who feel like they are beyond help.

Read Part 5 in my series on sleep to hear about how I help myself and others to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Part 4 – Over-The-Counter remedies

Over-The Counter remedies

There are lots of over-the-counter (OTC) sleep preparations. They can really help and some are excellent. There are two things about them which I don’t like:

  • They are often standardised extracts rather than full profile herbs
  • They usually contain valerian root
  • They may not actually have all that much herb in them.

Valeriana officinalis is a go-to sleep herb for many people and lots of herbalists. However, if you’ve ever taken it and found yourself MORE AWAKE after taking them than before, the chances are you’re like me (and roughly 5% of people), and you react in the opposite way to valerian!

Wow. Yes, it is possible to take a sleep herb and be more awake.

That kind of experience tends to give herbs a bad reputation. If you take something and it doesn’t work, you’re then likely to assume that all things like it also don’t work. After all, it’s been manufactured and then sold in a pharmacy, so it must be good.

Also, valerian root can leave people feeling a little muggy the day after, like they have a bit of a hangover. So, taking larger quantities may not be a great idea.

I prefer that the herbs I take are whole plant. If it is root, then I mean all of the root rather than pulling out the known constituent from the herb which is currently shown by research to be the active one. As a herbalist, I like the synergy which occurs between the constituents and how they inter-react. This is something which is hard to quantify and get scientifically accepted proof for. But, it has been shown that for example, the plants from which we can derive salicylic acid have constituents which protect stomachs unlike the synthetic derivative known as aspirin. There is an intelligence in the full spectrum of the plant and I prefer to have that in its entirety in my medicines.

I like collections of different herbs in a sleep mix. Then you get the benefits of a range of different ways in which your sleep is improved. It might be that you need to still your mind, relax your body or cool down from overheating.

I talk more about the different ways to improve your sleep in further posts on sleep. Look for Parts 5 and beyond.

Do you want to work on your sleep? Please get in touch as herbs are a gentle, non-addictive way to really improve the quality and length of your sleep.