Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when you have the chance to do so)

Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when you have the chance to do so)

Many of us will have experienced insomnia at some point in our lives.

Acute insomnia is when you experience temporary sleep problems, the night before an exam for example or when you have suffered a bereavement. 

Chronic insomnia is when sleep is disturbed at least three nights a week for at least three months.  The result of this is obviously fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.

Ultimately lack of sleep can have a drastic impact on our physical and mental health.  It’s a big subject so I will be including just the most important facts in this article.

We need to sleep to sustain life, its as simple as that.  Its important to remember thatyour system is programmed for effective sleep; its the most natural thing in the world!  However, feeling pushed for time (have you ever cut short your sleep because there was too much to do?  I know I have) and the habits of modern day life often impact on our ability to achieve good quality sleep. 

If you think your sleep quality could be better, have a look through these two checklistsand what you can do to make things easier for yourself….

DO:

  • Keep a regular routine in terms of timings and go to bed when you feel tired.
  • Manage those stress levels (more on that later)!
  • Relax for at least an hour before bed
  • Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and cooler than daytime temperature (but not cold)
  • Exercise regularly during the day
  • Ensure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable
  • Try to get 30 mins exposure to natural sunlight per day – this helps to remind your body which is day and which is night!  Artificial light is not the same!
  • Have a hot bath before bed to relax, plus the drop in your body temperature will aid sleep.
  • Remove distractions from your bedroom: screens, phones, clocks

DO NOT:

  • Do not smoke, or drink alcohol, tea or coffee at least 6 hours before going to bed
  • Do not eat for about 3 hours before bed, especially sugars / carbs
  • Do not exercise late in the day (that is, less than 4 hours before bed)
  • Do not watch screens in the 2 hours before bed – they block the release of melatonin by 23%, interrupting your normal sleep rhythms
  • Do not nap during the day
  • Do not sleep in after a bad night’s sleep – stick to your regular sleeping hours instead
  • Do not drink too many fluids before bed as you will need the loo in the night!
  • Drugs – clearly recreational drugs will impact sleep, but often prescription ones can too, so speak to your pharmacist about this, it may be that taking your tablets at a different time of day may help
  • Don’t lie in bed awake.  This breeds anxiety and makes it even harder to get to sleep.  Get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
  • Try to avoid sleeping tablets if you can, even those you can buy over the counter.  They can help in the short term, but they do not induce natural sleep and can make the insomnia worse.

Back to the big issue of STRESS.  Stress clearly impacts on our ability to sleep and then insomnia tends to increase our stress levels further – argghhhh!!  I quite often see people suffering with insomnia and Craniosacral Therapy often helps them.  In fact, people often report that their sleep has improved since they started Craniosacral Therapy, even when that was not the main reason they started coming to see me!

The point is, that when our systems are hyper-vigilant, or in fight, flight or freeze, of course it is often hard for us to ‘switch off’ at night. A good example of this would be a man I worked with a long time ago who had been in the forces for many years who had big sleep issues.  He said, ‘When you’ve slept with a gun in your hand every night for so long, its kinda hard to get any kind of deep sleep’.  And many of us (albeit for other reasons) have systems which are equally on ‘high alert’. 

The best way to address the stressed / hypervigilant system is to show it how to down-regulate from ‘fight, flight or freeze’ to ‘rest and digest’.  This is of the main things we do in Craniosacral Therapy.  The system is being shown the ‘off switch’ and little by little, it gets easier and easier to access the ‘off switch’, until the system is generally much calmer and sleep becomes much easier.  Plus of course, the person feels less stressed / anxious generally!

If you have taken board all the suggestions above and are still struggling with your sleep, please do seek the advice of your GP.

Dynamic Stillness – What Is It And Why Do I Need It?

Dynamic Stillness – What Is It And Why Do I Need It?

There are many facets to Craniosacral Therapy, but my favourite and by far the most profound is that of dynamic stillness.  Nearly all of you who have been me for therapy will have some understanding and experience of this. So what does it mean to you?  Why am I always banging on about it?  What is it exactly and why does it matter?

I like this description of Michael Kern’s from his book, Wisdom In The Body…..

“Dynamic stillness can be experienced as something that is universal, beyond the duality of subject or object. It has no defining characteristics or qualities, as it is the realm of our pure unfabricated nature.  Consequently there are no words on concepts that can adequately describe it.  At this level of our being there is no inertia and no conditioning, just the presence of peace, luminosity and stillness.  It may be perceived as a sense of Grace.  When we emerge from this experience, something has changed – for we never come out the same way that we went in.  We become touched by our deepest nature.”

Some people will simply experience stillness simply as a sense of calm (usually unlike anything they have experienced before).  We all need to be able to access a still place.  It is essential to health (of mind, body and spirit).  It can be tricky to access, particularly when the system is overwhelmed or dissociated.  However, I often view stillness as the gateway to everything because once a client’s system is shown how to access stillness, big changes tend to take place.  The resources of the system build too.  Michael Kern talks of the 7 different levels of stillness and how each level “brings a settling of some further aspect of our life process“.

It is the stillness of the Tide, not the stormy waves that bounce upon the shore that has the potency, the power.”  William Sutherland.

My experience also is that once the system gets practiced at accessing stillness, clients report that they are better able to access a calm place at other points in time and that they are coping better with life, feeling less stressed, anxiety lifts, they sleep better and so on – see why I love it so much!!

Mindful Meditation and the ability to deal with stress

Mindful Meditation and the ability to deal with stress

Mindful Meditation and the ability to deal with stress

Mindful Meditation and Stress – Studies show that mindful meditation results in more activity, or communication, among the portions of the brains that process stress-related reactions and other areas related to focus and calm and the effects last for months.

This particular article details a study where brain function has actually changed, in those participants who had practised true mindfulness.  

In a world which is so fast paced, our systems often have very little time to just “be”.  Indeed, in my practice, I regularly come across people who have little or no ability to quieten their system.  Craniosacral Therapy is often used as a tool for teaching the system how to down regulate.  There is great power in that shift from “fight, flight or freeze” to “rest and digest”.  

Full article here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/contemplation-therapy

5 Reasons why Craniosacral Therapy May Help

5 Reasons why Craniosacral Therapy May Help

5 Reasons why Craniosacral Therapy May Help

This article gives a good overview as to what Craniosacral Therapy is about, what it’s like and how it works.  The author states, “Overall, CranioSacral Therapy is a highly effective light-touch therapy that works with the source of pain and dysfunction and the whole body simultaneously.”  If you have never tried Craniosacral Therapy before and you are wondering if it might help you, why not give it a go!  Apart from anything, most people really enjoy their sessions!

Full article: http://www.kmackinnon.com/#!5-Reasons-Why-CranioSacral-Therapy-May-Be-the-Answer-to-Your-Health-Concern/cf3b/5684482e0cf20a60e3aefc7a