Not everyone who struggles with sleep has always been a poor sleeper. Sure, some people say they have struggled their whole life. But others are naturally good sleepers who one day just stop being able to sleep. It’s like a switch has flipped, and this switch, which they normally can flip to SLEEP DEEPLY every night, suddenly turns faulty.
Why does this happen? Often it’s age. Plus work or relationship or health or life stress. Maybe it's added to by a health issue or medication. Sometimes it’s just that you've had bad sleep habits for so long that eventually they catch up with you!
If you’re one of these usually well-sleeping people, and you are recently having problems falling or staying asleep, or it happens just occasionally, this is much easier to fix NOW rather than if you wait until your poor sleep becomes a habit. If your sleep is still good even though your habits are all over the place, then lucky you. All the more reason to change your behaviour...
I have been working with people to improve their sleep for almost a decade. This process has taught me that no matter what you might think, there are no hopeless cases. YOU might think you are a poor sleeper for life, but that can be changed! Good sleep is our birthright and essential to a healthy mind and body. I have had many clients coming to me feeling like they have tried everything. They’ve had sleep studies, tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for sleep, gone to sleep psychologists, read countless books and magazine articles on the subject, asked their doctor for help and subsequently have taken sleeping pills for many years. I’ve worked with people who have had chronic insomnia, night after night, for 1 or 2 or 5 years, some for 10, 20 or 30 years. Some of my clients have even said they’ve been poor sleepers their whole lives!
But together, with 90 days of consistent effort, we have turned that around. Can you imagine the joy of someone who has had poor...
These days, everyone and his dog seems to have a suggestion for improving your sleep. The reality is, however, when you have insomnia —chronic or long term difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep—even medical sleep specialists find it difficult to treat.
I found this out a decade ago when I'd recently fixed my own sleep issues and was just starting out on my helping-other-people-sleep journey. While in the US for my sleep coach training, I made friends with a woman whose husband was a sleep specialist doctor. She told him about the training I was doing in The Sounder Sleep™. Her husband wanted to meet me.
We met for coffee in a little coffee shop in Salt Lake City. I was a little nervous to meet a medical expert on sleep when I was only just starting my training. But he was really interested in what I was learning, asking me lots of questions and nodding often. Then he said something that really surprised me. “If you’re able to fix...
Recently I read an article in a yoga magazine about how self-care can become self-indulgent and superficial. With a focus on expensive spa treatments and “me-time,” I can understand why it could seem that way. But I see self-care in a completely different way, as a way to be kinder not only to ourselves, but to the important people in our lives.
Most of the people I work with in my sleep and yoga business struggle at times to keep up with the demands of every day living. Self-care is often the first item that drops off the list when things get stressful or busy. The needs of children, partners, elderly or unwell family members, demanding jobs and housework all seem to take precedence over self-care.
Often it is only when a crisis, or near-crisis occurs, that my clients realise they need to do things differently. Sometimes this is a health crisis, an accident, or just a state of burnout where a tired body or exhausted mind rebel and say “No more!” Through...
A few weeks ago, I wrote about self-talk. How the words and tone we use to speak to ourselves make such a difference to our lives and to our health. Today I’d like to bring up the companion topic of listening. I have three questions to ask you on this subject.
What kind of listener are you? This isn’t just about listening to yourself. I mean, listening to your friends, your family, your partner. Are you able to stay attentive to what they are saying? Does your mind wander off at times? Are you composing what to say back to them in your head while they are still talking?
What kind of listener do you appreciate? Do you like eye contact while talking, or no eye contact? There is no right and wrong here, this is a very personal thing. Do want the person to stop what they are doing and listen or are you comfortable when you are both engaged in some sort of activity? Do you like to get feedback in the form of nods, uh huhs, responding comments? Or do you prefer people...
Now you may be wondering what being kind to ourselves has to do with our sleep? Actually it has a LOT to do with good sleep. When we are NOT kind to ourselves, that's when our self-care and support routines fall by the wayside. It's also when our negative self-talk can add to feelings of anxiety, guilt and unhappiness, which can then contribute to stress and arousal instead of relaxation and good sleep.
For just one day, my challenge to you is to be aware of how you speak to yourself. For best results, you could write down what you hear yourself saying, or at least record the overall tone. Do you call yourself names? Is there any phrase or idea that comes up over and over again?
Then, reflect on the effect those words and tone are having. Are they helping you to feel good about yourself, to feel encouraged? Are you being kind to yourself?
Sometimes when things are going well, our self-talk can be positive. But when we make a mistake, when we are in pain or under stress, or we feel...
As a child at my dad's house, waking up Christmas morning was a magical experience. As an adult, I got to see behind the scenes and finally realised why my dad and step-mother were always so exhausted on Christmas day! (Hint: it had something to do with staying up until 4 am wrapping presents!)
So in their honour, the # 10 tip for Holiday Sleep and Survival is:
10. Wrap gifts as you go, and definitely BEFORE the night before deadline!
This next tip is all very nice to say . . .
9. Don’t stress too much. It’s the HOLIDAYS! A week of fun, food, family and relaxation. It doesn't have to be perfect, and because of the food and family element, it can't be! So be happy with how it rolls.
It might help to accept that:
8. Your family (and sometime your friends) are your family. They probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Hopefully that’s a good thing, but if not, I've found that acceptance works better than exasperation.
7. If you are feeling isolated or...
Sleep disorders like insomnia are usually not born but made. Often they start during a time of situational stress like with the birth of a new baby, starting a new job, death of loved one, relationship problems. Most often people find that insomnia occurs as delayed sleep onset (difficulty falling asleep) or difficulty with sleep maintenance (difficulty staying asleep or sleeping long enough). Sometimes insomnia manifests as BOTH. I have had clients who before working with me got only 2 hours sleep per night, and in many cases had nights when they did not sleep at all.
Chronic insomnia as defined by the National Sleep Foundation is when difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep happens three or more nights per week, for at least three months.
If you were sleeping only 4 or 5 hours per night on a good night, with other nights where you were lying awake for hours, and sometimes all night, it's understandable that you might start to think of yourself as someone who is...
The Two Types of Stress
Did you know that there are two different types of stress? And that one of these types of stress is much more damaging to our sleep? We hear about flight or fight, but recently psychologists have found that flight stress and fight stress is handled differently in the body. Even more importantly than that, we are able to BY THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT OUR STRESSOR, change whether our body interprets our stress as bad or good. This in turn can make the difference between us being able to recover from stress by sleeping, or whether we are so stressed that we are unable to sleep.
We can think about our “Fight Stress” as a challenge. Something that takes all of our resources, but that we have a chance to win at. This could be a fight in the playground, the bedroom or the boardroom, but the significant thing here is that we feel we have a chance and thus our body gears up to fight. A fight is something that has an end to it, and after the fight...
If you have trouble sleeping, how to fall asleep can become something you think about constantly. Falling asleep fast can seem like a distant dream when you toss and turn for an hour or more before you can fall asleep. You may have even had nights when you can’t fall asleep at all! After months or years of this, insomnia is no longer just one of a growing epidemic of sleep disorders; it’s your new normal.
It just doesn’t make sense. You’re tired. Fatigued, You want and need to sleep. You may even be doing some or all of the right things, like practicing good sleep hygiene as suggested by your doctor or psychologist or the last magazine article or internet search you did. You have a regular bedtime routine. You switch off your phone or computer at least an hour before bed. You drink a cup of warm milk and honey or camomile tea or you have a prescription for melatonin. And sure, you get sleepy, often on the couch while you’re watching TV or in the late...