Reversing the Epidemic of Insomnia
Climbing into bed with a tired body but a not so tired mind is the way of life for many people every night. Some people dread even going to bed for fear of a repeat of the restless tossing and turning they’ve experienced in past nights. Of course most of the time history repeats itself because where you focus your thoughts is exactly what shows up for you. Do you find yourself raiding the refrigerator or turning on the TV to pass time as you prowl your quiet house while everyone else enjoys the sleep zone? Or do you simply get up and do more work? After all, why waste the time so at least you can be productive if you aren’t sleeping. Then the morning requires some stiff coffee or other stimulants to get you moving. Does this describe you?
If so, then join the many thousands of insomniacs that are begging for relief from the zombie existence they now experience. In a recent article I read it stated that over 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were filled in 2005. That’s a bunch! As a co-owner of a health store I frequently am asked for natural remedies to help in the area of sleep. So this phenomena is wide-spread it seems.
I have also experienced severe insomnia in past years and even now have times when sleep doesn’t seem to be on the agenda even though I want it to be. Occasional episodes of sleeplessness can happen to everyone at times. But because of this personal history I’ve searched for ways to calm myself down so I can sleep on those few nights when sleep evades me. It’s really frustrating when the person laying beside you is asleep almost the moment the head hits the pillow, but you’re still counting sheep and have reached four digit numbers, isn’t it?
It is amazing how we gain expertise in the areas for which we have concerns. The issues that bug us often bug many others, and as one uncovers a solution or at the very least some guidelines, they find that hundreds or even thousands of others can also benefit from their discovery. Isn’t that how all of life operates? One person experiences an issue, learns from it, passes through it and becomes stronger and wiser. If this person willingly shares the findings of their journey, many can benefit. So I see there is a gift in every single problem, no matter how big or how small. If I hadn’t experienced years of sleeping problems along with multiple health issues, I wouldn’t have researched and gathered the following information from personal experience. I feel personal discovery through experience, rather than book knowledge, is the way to uncover most truth.
Most health practitioners agree that getting enough sleep is vital. Sleep time is also repair time. Your body does most of its repairing as it rests, so without enough sleep your body will continue to break down, leading to illness and disease. In our fast-paced, production-driven society, many find it impossible to shut off their mental chatter to sleep. For many even their breathing is shallow and rushed so that their body isn’t receiving enough oxygen. That in itself wears down your health and definitely ages you faster! Most people are living through fear – to produce enough, be better than the next person, exceed by giving longer hours or more sales, or make that all-important great impression on the boss — so their life runs on nervous, overdrawn energy that continually depletes them of their life force. Perhaps this fits you.
So let’s go back to the need for sleep. Your body really needs about 7 or 8 hours of good sleep every night to do its repair work and refresh you for the next day. Not only this, but if you don’t get enough sleep your metabolism and hormones will get out of whack which makes it hard for your body to process glucose in the blood. This requires that your body produce 30% more insulin to process your food, and this predisposes you to weight gain and other health concerns. Without enough sleep a chain reaction begins that continually spirals you downward into lesser health. You may know this already but try as you might you cannot sleep that many hours.
The biggest culprit that causes sleep disorders is stress. Stress is known to be a killer; even the medical profession now recognizes this fact. But the typical medical professional’s answer is to provide a prescription drug to help you sleep. While this gives temporary relief, and may be beneficial in some cases, there are always side effects that are not optimal for good health. And prescription drugs for sleep can often become addictive, which is never a good thing. So what do you do when you hear the clock chime almost every hour of the night?
The first thing to do is reduce your stress. Easier said than done, right? Actually it’s not hard to do once you understand the basic principle of life. Life happens. There is a continuous ebb and flow in life over which you have no control. But humans thrive on control for the most part, so if things happen that alter your plans, you get angry. (frustrated, stressed, all the same reaction) Or perhaps you find yourself saying “yes” when you really want to say “no.” You are living through other people’s expectations and so continually strive to be a super person to fulfill those expectations, or are actually going against what you really want to do. What’s the end result? Stress.
Here’s how I view life. I believe there is a Higher Power (God) over the universe. I also believe that everything that comes my way has a purpose, or a reason for it to be as it is. I may not like it or may not have expected it, but in hindsight I always see why it came. So knowing this up front – that everything flows in divine order and has a purpose, why worry? Anger over a change of events or becoming upset for something over which you have no control serves no purpose; you can’t change the happening, only your response to it! So becoming angry or worrying creates a stressful state that gains nothing, but it might make you sick. The anger or worry doesn’t fix the problem so it has no benefit. Therefore, I do not accept stress into my life. I simply go with the flow and accept it as it is. Then I await the solution, which always comes easily when I surrender my will.
But even if you haven’t reached this state as yet, here are some do’s and don’ts that could very well help you if you are having trouble sleeping.
- exercise in the evening or too close to bedtime — it’s probably too stimulating for you.
- sleep with a light on. Melatonin, a hormone within you that is produced at night and helps you sleep, needs darkness to be effective.
- watch stimulating TV shows right before bed, especially news programs. Best to keep TV out of your bedroom, especially if sleeping problems are present.
- eat a big meal late in the evening.
- work until bedtime — there needs to be time to relax and unwind.
- use stimulants — coffee, chocolate, caffeine, prescription or over the counter drugs that contain stimulants — even some herbs can be too stimulating and effect your sleep even hours after being ingested.
- push yourself to stay up longer than you should when you’re tired and your body says bedtime.
- work in your bedroom as it’s then hard for your brain to distinguish between sleep time and work time.
- eat your evening meal as early in the evening as possible. Eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. If you are over 40 it might be good to take digestive enzymes with meals for better digestion. Difficulty digesting your food can definitely affect your sleep.
- calming things in the evening, particularly the two hours before retiring — listen to soft music, simple yoga stretches, meditate, take a relaxing bath, share some time with your partner/spouse, read — quiet your mind from the routine of the day. Create tranquility.
- eat a high protein snack before bed, like grass-fed beef jerky with a few berries, or a couple spoonfuls of cottage cheese with berries. This helps provide the L-tryptophan needed to produce melatonin and and serotonin for sleep. However, I’ve found that for me, eating a piece of health bread (millet) toasted with a little organic unsalted butter on it calms me best. Toasted works best as it is warm, and warm is soothing.
- try some relaxing herbal tea like chamomile, valerian, passion flower, or a combination made for calming. Allow yourself to be soothed.
- keep a notepad by your bed so that if you think of something that you don’t want to forget, you can write it down, thus freeing up your thoughts about forgetting so you can shut off your mind.
- keep telling yourself you are going to bed and choosing to sleep. Once in bed focus on something relaxing and pleasant, and continue to affirm to yourself that you have chosen to fall asleep. Your thoughts create your reality!
- take magnesium citrate before retiring. Magnesium is a very important mineral and it relaxes the muscles as well as your body. A product that has helped me but is not for everyone is called Calm — a powder that mixes easily in water with a pleasant taste and goes immediately into your
- use an energy balancing technique like EFT, QiGong, Reiki, or acupressure. Often this helps me when other things haven’t. The reason it is so helpful is because sleeplessness occurs because the body is out of balance and by rebalancing the energy of your body you can have what you desire — sleep! You can perform these techniques on yourself quite easily.
- have your adrenals checked as Adrenal Fatigue affects over 80% of society at some time during their life. As a person becomes stressed their cortisol rises, which causes weight gain and insomnia among other things. Cortisol should be at its lowest at bedtime, but if too high you won’t sleep well. Traditional medicine doesn’t recognize this problem so you’ll have to find a holistic practitioner who offers the ASI test (adrenal stress index). This easily determines your cortisol and DHEA levels and what you need to do to help them heal. Go to
www.wheremiracleshappen.com for free articles on adrenal fatigue. Consider this test if you’ve had ongoing sleep problems for a period of time, or be tested through Where Miracles Happen with QRA Testing. It will show you within minutes whether or not your adrenals are weak or strong.
- use lavender essential oil and rub it into the bottoms of your feet, your chest, under your nose, wrists. Put a few drops in a glass bottle that contains almond oil or a similar oil that’s used for massage. Lavender is calming and may just work for you.
- get up and do something if you’re tossing and turning and getting agitated over it. Try reading for a while as it often works to calm the active mind.
- learn to respond differently to life and its situations. Stress is only created by you and it is how you respond to the happenings life brings to you. Everything is about choice — your choice. The power to create peacefulness and balance in your life is in your mind, and is your decision. It is really that simple!
- use an additional dose of natural progesterone cream it you are using this. Try rubbing it on the back of your neck under the hair line. You cannot overdose and it may help you fall asleep. A little extra just may make you sleepy.
- make sure you are getting enough omega 3’s in your diet. Most Americans obtain 10% or less of these vital oils. These oils are the necessary constituent for cholesterol, which is needed for the conversion of all hormones in your body. Hormones play a significant role in your sleep patterns and overall health.
- deep breathing — it can relax you.
- ask your angels to help you either fall asleep or understand why you can’t so you can change whatever you need to change so you can sleep.
Understand that because something works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for you. We are each unique and must find our own truth. Also understand that if you have had a sleeping problem for months or years, you may need to take more serious action: get the ASI test, learn about adrenal fatigue for it most assuredly is part of your problem, evaluate your diet and lifestyle choices, look inside of you for emotional baggage that needs to be released, learn how to respond more beneficially to the stressors that appear in your life, and make sure you are spiritually connected to the divine realm and your Creator.
Some people take prescription drugs for various maladies and these have many side effects. One side effect may be to create sleeplessness. Check with your pharmacist to see if this is a possibility. As always, be your own detective. Why give your control to someone else who will never care as much about your health as you. Even if you’re not listening to your body at present or are misguided by your own thoughts as to what is good for you and what isn’t, you can be assured that no one will ever be able to care as much for you as you. It’s your body, your health, your choice.
So let me sum up the basic points I’ve shared above. First of all, you must decide you really want to get rid of your sleeping problem, I mean really. It’s going to require some lifestyle changes so make sure this will work for you. Then commit to doing it. Lots of people, in fact many people, think of what it is they want to do but never take the steps to do it. In other words, a person has a daydream but never is motivated to take action. The dream remains a simple daydream which takes them nowhere, and therefore never becomes reality.
Now that you’ve decided to make the changes, you will need to find ways to reduce your stress. Get help from a wholeness coach or find a “buddy” to whom you are accountable who will help you on your journey if needed. Know what you really want out of life and don’t settle for less. Do as much as you can yourself; become your own best friend and treat yourself as you really want to be treated. Know that you can do it but it will take some internal work as well as external work. And never give up! The only one who wins is the one whose eyes are continually focused on their goal and never gives up. Use the Dos and Don’ts listed above as guides to help you regain your own power, thus becoming an empowered being. Everything is achievable if you believe it is.
William James, a Harvard psychologist, once said the following: “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitude of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” If you can see it and believe it, you can achieve it!
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