I must apologise for the absence of communication in recent months. I have been immersed in the process of turning my life inside out. And with the transformation and working through a few big life events, my sleep took the hit. I’m a sleep expert who has always been open about the fact that I’ve had a history of sleep problems that played its part in making me very ill over two decades ago. I’ve worked on it and in the process learnt enough to help thousands of others but even so, it wasn’t good news when this recent spell of insomnia hit again.
The two most common sleep problems are difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. My problem was the latter. Falling asleep effortlessly and then waking in the early hours unable to get back to sleep. Tossing and turning, restless and feeling as if I’m the only person in the world not sleeping. Why me?
It was one night while lying in bed feeling tortured by my wakefulness that I suddenly saw the gift in what I was experiencing. There were at least three of them:
- How useful to remind myself what my patients and clients are experiencing and so, with this rekindled insight, bring more softness and compassion to my work;
- An opportunity to go back to basics and remind myself of the habits I need to adopt in order to restore my sleep. These habits included my ‘5 non-negotiables’ – eat breakfast every morning within 30mins of rising and include protein in the meal, minimise caffeine, 2 litres of water per day (preferably alkalised with lemon/lime juice), getting to bed before midnight, no technology in the hour before bed (and this is the one that had really crept up on me);
- Remember that ‘Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional’. I’m not sure who said this but it’s profound and so relevant to our sleep. It reminds me that when I wake during the night I have two choices: to surrender to the experience of not being asleep and in some way relish it (enjoy the sensation of being safe, warm, comfy) or I can fret and worry about how I’m going to feel the next day, the likely impact of not getting x hours of sleep, complain and bemoan my history of insomnia and so on. The former choice brings about a relaxing into the experience of being awake, an acceptance and letting go which cleverly opens the doorway to the possibility of sleep or at least peaceful rest. In fact, in some cultures, nocturnal waking is viewed as an opportunity to commune with the Divine. The latter choice is opening the door to energy-sapping insomnia, tightness of mind and body…and suffering. Which would you prefer?
So tonight, if you find yourself awake in the early hours, try surrendering to it. Perhaps try some reiki to calm your nervous system – lying on your back, left hand over your solar plexus just above your belly button and right hand just below your belly button and on your belly. Breathe deep and ‘fat’ and simply enjoy the sensation of resting. You might want to take it a step further and think of someone who’s important to you and send them love and blessings.
In case you’re reading this, feeling irritated and about to press that ‘unsubscribe’ button, let me remind you that I know what it feels like to lie in bed not being able to sleep and feeling as if you’re the only person in the world who has this problem. I know what it feels like to be wide awake and overwhelmed with worry. I know what it feels like when this has been going on for too long and you dread going to bed at night. I know. I’m just reminding you that we can make a choice. We can choose not to suffer.
By the way, I am pleased to say that these last few nights I’ve been sleeping like a baby (one that sleeps well, that is). But I’m not going to get too attached to it J
Yours in amazing health and energy…