Focus on Your Health - Insomnia and Sleep Disorders
Here is another instalment of our regular series on various health conditions. Following a brief overview of the relevant condition, Guild members share their expertise in treating the condition. What they recommend is not intended to replace orthodox medical care but to complement it and to give other suggestions if what you have tried has not so far worked for you.
Different therapists specialise in different conditions and even within similar therapies, you will find different approaches some of which may suit you better than others. Sometimes, a combination of therapies will suit.
When you choose to see a therapist, you have chosen to make a positive difference. We wish you every success and will support you in changing your life for the better.'
In this issue, we will be covering 'SLEEP' and how complementary therapies can help you when sleep eludes you.
Sleep is one of the most mysterious activities we do and whilst scientist have discovered the 4 stages of sleep little is really known about its purpose. Yet we have all experienced sleepless nights either from insomnia, jet lag or new babies and know how lack of sleep affects our health, mood. It can also weaken our immune system, increase risk of heart disease and, impair memory.
Adults typically need between 6 to 8 hours sleep per night but western society is becoming more sleep deprived though choice since the advent of the electric light, and now with 24 hours access to work/emails, TV, shopping and internet. Even if you miss one hour of sleep per night then over the course of a week 7 hours sleep is effectively one whole nights worth of sleep lost!
Signs or symptoms of sleep disorders include:
difficulty falling asleep
waking up and staying awake during the night
waking up early in the morning
feeling irritable and tired and finding it difficult to function during the day
Things that typically interfere with sleep:- alcohol, caffeine, smoking, some medications (especially those labelled non-drowsy cold and sinus remedies), diabetes and poor sugar control, hormonal issues, pain, needing to get up for a pee, psychological issues such as depression, stress, grief and worry/anxiety.
Typically sleep problems fall into two categories, problems falling asleep and problems staying asleep/early awakening.
Herbal and Naturopathic Remedies with Michelle Boudin
Herbal treatments work best when any underlying medical and/or psychological issues are addressed in conjunction with herbs used for sleep. However, for short term relief try:
Valerian - commonly known herb for sleep and works well for some individuals yet for others, typically A types it can energise them! So try Scutellaria or Passionflower instead.
Californian poppy - readily available, creates relaxation and reduces nightmares. Note this is a totally legal herb!
Chamomile, and lemon balm - a nice herbal tea before bed.
Hops – the smell of hops can make you go weak at the knees, it is that relaxing. So try making a herb pillow from hops and perhaps add some lavender and hang above the bed.
Lavender, Rose and Clary Sage essential oils - calm the mind and relax the body. Put a few drops in a hot bath or oil burner before bed. Or rub on the temples.
General tips for a good night sleep: - don't watch TV in bed, establish a good routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Avoid alcohol, caffeine especially in the evening, and get plenty of fresh air and exercise. Wearing natural fibres and for bedding (cotton, linen, wool) help control the bodies temperature especially if you are prone to night sweats. Reduce light pollution with black out blinds, switch off mobile phones and WIFI.
Meditation and deep breathing put the body into parasympathetic mode ready for sleep and induces alpha brain waves, the first stage of sleep. Try breathing in for count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, repeat (or 8-4-8).
Medical Herbalist and Naturopath
Reflexology with Julie Grant-Hapeshi
The relaxing effects of reflexology can be very beneficial in reducing stress.
More than 7000 nerves are stimulated by the reflexologist when touching the feet and this encourages the opening and clearing of neural pathways. This leads to inducing deep relaxation to allow the nervous system to calm down and function more normally. This can therefore lead to a restful sleep.
To help with sleep problems, I would relax the feet and pay specific attention to clearing away imbalances. At the centre of the top pad of each toe is the location of the pineal gland reflex. This is the gland that effects sleep pattern so maintaining a good balance of the hormone melatonin is important for healthy sleep.
I would also focus on the solar plexus, the respiratory system, the digestive system, thyroid, brain areas, pituitary, pancreas and adrenals – to work on any imbalances in these systems to help promote a more relaxed sleeping pattern.
There are various self help reflexology techniques that one can use between treatments to promote sleep focusing on the above areas.
Hypnotherapy and Counselling with Angela Winterton
Sleep is something we all need and trouble sleeping can affect most of us from time to time and is normal and usually a temporary experience. But if sleep problems occur on a regular basis, it can interfere with our daily life and can have a negative impact on our overall well-being as well as increasing the risk of serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and depression. It has now become clear that a solid night’s sleep is essential for a long and healthy life.
During a normal sleep cycle, the body alternates between stages of deep and light sleep. During deep stages of dream sleep or REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), the mind primarily deals with our emotions and facilitates creativity and processes and consolidates memory which can then affect the function during waking hours, keeping us healthy and well balanced.
The most common sleep complaint is insomnia - the inability to get to sleep or to sleep well all night. From my own experience, insomnia is rarely a primary issue. This means that the usual underlying causes include bad daytime habits or behaviours, inability to ‘switch off’, poor bedtime routine, stress, worry and anxiety.
A typical approach when helping anyone overcome sleeping issues would include a combination of behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy is a safe and natural technique and works by first focusing on understanding patterns of behavior and consequently making changes at an unconscious level, helping you get back on track with a healthy sleep pattern.
A typical course of behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy would include:
Help resolve specific anxieties relating to the process of sleeping itself - such as worry about getting off to sleep or getting back to sleep after waking. It can also be very effective in addressing any sleep-related habits.
Resolve anxieties that are triggering insomnia and causing sleep disturbances.
Establish and develop new sleep patterns.
Creating a good sleep hygiene and better pre-bed time behaviours.
You are entitled to enjoy perfect sleep every night of your life. With the right help, You can make YOU sleep!!
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapeutic Counsellor
Reiki-led Release with Louise Salmon
Sometimes it’s easy to achieve, but it seems that it doesn’t take much for it to elude us.
Sleeplessness can be very disruptive to the body and mind, as we need the shut-off time to restore balance, and when we don’t get it, or don’t get enough of the right type of sleep, it can result in exhaustion and frayed nerves.
There are lots of reasons we find it difficult to sleep, and often it’s just for one night when we are excited about something, or anticipating the next day, either with pleasure or dread, or perhaps there is just too much going on for us to clear our minds sufficiently for sleep to come to us.
But other times sleeplessness can become almost a way of life, and we become stuck in a pattern which seems almost impossible to break.
When the sleeplessness is just occasional, simple relaxation techniques such as meditation or visualisation or even self hypnosis might be useful.
However, when the sleeplessness becomes ongoing, we might need to use different methods.
Sometimes there are reasons that we are unable to sleep, maybe historical ones, perhaps even going back to childhood, things which worry us and interfere with our ability to relax ready for sleep. Often, these things when we uncover them are apparently unconnected with the sleeplessness, but might be a historical worry or anxiety that the subconscious mind is dwelling on.
It’s like there is another “you”, sometimes known as your “Inner Child”, who still has all the fears and anxieties from this other time, and when it comes to sleep time, she (your Inner Child) feels this anxiety keenly and is on guard against the perceived danger. Clearly, if you are on high alert, even if it is “only” your Inner Child who is worried, it might be difficult to settle to sleep.
One way of approaching this might be to use regression to find out where the anxiety began and discover what is needed to solve the difficulty. Usually this would involve your speaking with your Inner Child within regression, and helping her to find resolution and peace in her own time.
This can be done formally through hypnosis, or through Reiki-led Release, a technique of my own which uses the relaxation which comes naturally as Reiki energy is brought down and channeled through you. Reiki energy is a form of Universal healing energy, which allows us to heal on all levels, body, mind and spirit. This usually produces a peaceful state from where spontaneous regression can be encouraged to occur, so that you can be guided to a place where you can gain understanding of the issue, and find a way to clear it.
Sometimes this can clear the sleeplessness immediately.
Please feel free to call me for a chat.
Louise Salmon Reiki II, Coach, Hypnotherapist
Reflexology with Helen Sheppard Many a client turns up for Reflexology saying they are unable to sleep well at night, are insomniac or do not feel relaxed, energised or rejuvenated after a night's sleep or could sleep on a washing line during the day! Lack of good quality sleep may cause further problems such as debilitating tiredness, an inability to concentrate during the day, irritability and so on. It is during our hours of sleep that the body naturally repairs it's self.
Many factors may be involved in poor sleep patterns from simple anxiety about a task which need s to be performed, tests or exam nerves, money worries, grief, worries about work, family, illness or injury, chronic pain, restless legs, hormonal imbalances, night sweats or hot flushes, bed wetting for young children, life in general. Is your bed right for you? Is your pillow comfortable and supportive? The list could go on and on I am sure.
As Reflexologists we are often asked if we can help. The good news is 'Yes' in most cases we can. Firstly can I just say that the most common comment after a Reflexology session is "I slept so much better last night" or "That is the best night's sleep I have had in ages". In fact just last week a regular client exclaimed at the end of his treatment "I just don't know what you do to Me, one minute I was talking and then I am waking up at the end of treatment. I think you have a sleep button and a wake me up button".
A good bedtime routine is essential as we all know with no stimulating drinks or alcohol. The latest relaxation tool being a colouring book instead of the 10.00 news! As an Allergy Therapist as well as Reflexologist, food sensitivities may also be worth taking a look at!
How can Reflexology help? A full Reflexology treatment can be helpful in regulating sleep patterns in people of all ages, including young children and the elderly who need less sleep or often rise earlier. Firstly Reflexology is extremely relaxing, non-invasive, can be carried out on hands, feet, ears or face and is totally holistic treating the whole of the body.
Reflexology can help to normalise sleep patterns by encouraging the person to relax and breath more deeply. The solar plexus reflex is held to encourage relaxation several times during a treatment. The Head reflexes (the thumb and fingers or toes) are worked to relax thought processes and hence help to facilitate sleep. By working the Pineal Gland (the gland which controls sleep patterns) and the Pituitary Glands (the master gland in the body controlling all other glands) the hormonal system is either relaxed or stimulated (whichever is needed at the time). By working the spinal reflexes which are linked to the Nervous system a state of calm is induced in the body. As the Reflexologist works the diaphragm reflexes deeply the depth of breathing is naturally increased and thus increases relaxation, all of which is calming and encourages a good nights sleep. After a course of Reflexology and a few life style changes it is hoped that a good sleep pattern will have been restored.
If you would like to find out more about any of the treatments, please contact the therapists direct. You can find contact details by clicking HERE
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