many religious texts, there are numerous ways to heal one’s self. Jesus,
Buddha, and Krishna all preached similar stories of something or someone
healing through enlightenment. That the self would have to die in order to
fully live. When this occurs the self, gains knowledge, power, and all needs
disappear (Hopper, 2013). The
Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy has many diagnoses with treatments
that help alleviate or cure illness, pain, disease and disorders but none are a
panacea for the human body as a whole (Porter & Kaplan, 2011).
For centuries though, religion has been this for many. The downside to
this, is not all religions have been able to miraculously cure disease. Jesus
was known to practice miracles but what about the other religions? They might
not accept this but many faiths overlap in belief. The things Jesus claimed,
what Buddha and Krishna preached, as well as what Taoism teaches. Even the
Greeks and Egyptians overlap in what they believed their Gods could do (Harris,
1993). This is where Reiki healing energy comes into play. All religions state
there is a vital life force energy, regardless of what they call it; the Holy
Spirit, God, the Great Spirit, Source, Enlightenment, Universal Knowledge, the
Divine, they all have healing abilities at some level but which one heals the
body in its entirety when it comes to disease or do they all?
Reiki is just another term for this internal live force but
it can be transferred from one person to another in order to heal (Earl E.
Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, 2016). Masaru Emoto’s research
also supports this. Emoto is a Japanese researcher who reports his findings on
changing the molecular structure of water simply by using intention. This is
projecting his energy in order to either harm or heal something external to
himself (Emoto, 2005). Saying as the human body is mostly made of water, I
would say our intention in protecting our energy does miracles but our
disbelief and negativity block healing. Could it be that this type of power is
what the Egyptians and Greeks understood their Gods to have? Is this what
separates Jesus, Poseidon, and Isis from others? These Gods or Deities were
said to possess supernatural powers but Stephano De Matias (2020) reports the
Atlanteans having similar power because of their advancements in technology.
Some of their technology came from within. External healing came from
frequencies, eating clean, and living pure (Stephano, 2020). Plato also reports
gaining information that coincides with present day historians on the existence
of Atlantis (History.com, 2002).
What if enlightenment is the universal power human’s all
seek? Through a clear channel to the Divine, could we all have the ability to
gain guidance higher than ourself? We may all have a chance to not only heal
ourselves but others as well. Could it be possible that Jesus, Krishna, and
Buddha were all trying to relay the same message? That everyone could have the
power the Greek and Egyptian Gods had. That all humans have an innate ability
to heal naturally without procedures, surgeries, and medications? World
religions seem to think so but only through their own religious beliefs. If
they all came together they might see the similarities between them. If they
came together, it may support the medical field to get more on board since they
were once aligned centuries ago. In the past religion and the medical field
were aligned but for negative reasons. The recent research in Reiki may be a
bridge for these two very separate fields to bridge together and finally
discover that the panacea for healing is simply the human body itself.
Emoto, M. (2005). The hidden messages in
water. Beyond words Publishing. Hillsboro, CO.
Past trauma can trigger responses in our bodies and minds and affect how we live our day to day lives. When others feel stressed or anxious, they often have the ability to “shake it off”. This is not always the case for people who have experienced trauma in their past, and struggle with the lingering effects. Trauma can make you feel like a captive in your own body and mind. When something triggers you back to the feelings during your past trauma, it can cause your body to react based on the past. This feeling can be so overwhelming, especially considering that your body is responding in a way that you may not understand.
How Yoga Heals
So how does yoga really help these responses and ultimately heal our minds? Well, one of the greatest things yoga teaches us is how to breathe. Yep, seems so simple right? Just breathing deeply has vast benefits on our entire bodies. Slowing down and lengthening our breath can lower the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. When we practice these slower and deeper breathing techniques, we can learn how to maintain a calmer body and mind.
Another way yoga can heal your mind is once again simple, just moving your body. We hold onto emotions, stress, and tension in various parts of our bodies. Trauma victims may hold on to emotions from their past and may fear releasing them because of the overwhelming experience it may bring on. When we hold on to these emotions, it may bring on feelings of soreness, stiffness, and extreme fatigue. In our yoga class we practice yoga poses that help release built up emotions, stress, and tension. During these poses, it is normal to experience immense relief as your body slowly learns to let go.
Beneficial Beyond Measure
There are so many more benefits of yoga, the list could truly go on and on. In my personal experience of teaching this style of yoga to victims of trauma, I have witnessed exponential growth. From things like reconnecting to their body to the release of blocked emotions, my clients have experienced it all. This class has helped them stay motivated, confident in themselves, and learn helpful breathing techniques to use in and out of practice. One of my clients even says it’s “her favorite day of the week”. Just know that healing your mind, your body, and your soul is possible and finding a safe space to experience these releases and realizations is real. We provide an energizing and relaxing style of yoga in a non-judgmental atmosphere full of love and compassion. At Restoring Minds in Midlothian, we offer an array of different classes from private one on one, groups, couples, and more. Visit our website to find more information and book your class today. We can’t wait to meet you!
It is difficult to find a thoroughly accurate treatment for trauma due to the overwhelming factors. The brain and the body are effected; and because of that, the internal belief system of the self. This is among other areas of functioning like having difficulty with family, friends, work, and capabilities. One way to get closer to an effective treatment is realizing that it is not just a matter of healing the brain or the body but rather both. Yoga is one of the best ways to bring balance to the self so one can manage the difficult psycho-physiological responses resulting from unresolved trauma.
Yoga is a hands-on practice of finding truth in oneself and externally of oneself to see that life, death, and religion are not what we seem to think they are but rather much more. An eternal energy and life force that lives inside each of us and is there waiting to be realized. Yoga is a practice of mind, body, and spiritual connectedness and awareness that goes beyond our daily lives and a small understanding of religion. It takes one who is truly dedicated to the practice to find this place of inner peace and consciousness (Hewitt 3-5). Yoga encourages one to not blindly follow others in their practice but to find themselves within their own practice. Teaching happens when a teacher takes pupil under their wing to advise on how theoretically this practice is accomplished but it is up to the student as to how far they will travel to have true understanding (Hewitt 5-6). Modern Yoga has been turned into a flexibility thing. Something to be done to work out and tone; though this happens with the practice, this is only a very small portion of the practice and not the goal. The ultimate goal is to have an awakening and remain on this new level of awareness and inner connection through cleansing practices that heal the body of impurity with body postures, physical detox, and meditations.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 5thEd. (DSM-5). To qualify for this diagnosis one must be witness to a life-threatening event or have secondary exposure to a traumatic event. Classifications for this diagnosis include nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, hypervigilance, difficulty focusing, and difficulty feeling pleasure. Some may dissociate when triggered by a direct tor even indirect stimuli or reminder of the traumatic event (America Psychiatric Association 271-272). Often people avoid these reminders because of the severe physiological response that happens involuntarily. This often causes difficulty with mood, relationships, work, school and other areas of functioning. Due to these recurring symptoms often people who suffer from PTSD have difficulty with cognition. Their brain does not function like it used to or is supposed to. As a way to protect oneself the brain often dissociates or disconnects often losing the ability to reconnect in areas of the brain that are much needed. People who suffer from PTSD are at a very high rate of having physical disabilities, economic struggle, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation (America Psychiatric Association 280). It should be noted that not all people who have experienced trauma meet all the criteria to be diagnosed with PTSD. Though this does not mean that they are not severely affected.
Trauma drastically affects the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This is the system that is internal and is effected automatically by external and internal stimuli. Meaning, what happens around us will affect our thoughts and body. The main parts of the ANS are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS serves as the accelerator in our body which gets things moving at a faster pace which we call, the fight or flight response and the (PNS) which slows things down. To make things even more confusing the PNS is separated into two parts, the ventral vagal system which manages social engagement and the dorsal vagal system which controls the shut-down response (Paulsen 56-57). Trauma obstructs communication with these parts causing inaccurate assessments of situations causing one to think they are safe when they are not and to be on the defense when they should not. This leads to people who suffer from trauma to have difficulty adapting and being flexible to their environment accordingly (Gomez 7). When you think of trauma, many people think of war, physical, and sexual abuse as the only traumas which cause negative effects. However, such traumas as abandonment, maltreatment, and dysregulated emotional responses from caregivers in early childhood are known to also severely deregulate a child’s ANS (Gomez 8).
Often in the field of mental health, trauma can be separated into two classifications depending on the type of trauma. “Small t” traumas are often the smaller less serious situations such as a negative life event without one’s life being threatened. On the other hand, when one’s life is threatened or someone may feel as though their life is being threatened they are classified as a “Big T” (Paulsen 3-4). We tend to think that there is a large difference in how they affect someone but that is not the case. Someone with one “Big T” may have the same presenting issues as someone with several “small t’s.” This is important to remember when looking for the cause of these symptoms because a person with a ‘Big T” may know exactly what has caused their symptoms and why they are needing to practice Yoga but another person with several “small t’s” may not even understand why they have any symptoms at all.
The answer to why this happens is in the nervous system and how trauma changes the brain. These forgotten or even dissociated memories are held maladaptively in implicit memory in the brain and when triggered set off the nervous system. This is one way to say we don’t know that a trigger is there and why it was triggered but now my body feels anxious, sad, angered, or threatened. So how is one to treat a trauma that they don’t even know exists? By calming the nervous system (Paulsen 3-4). Trauma therapy is extremely hard on clients who seek treatment. Some never receive the help they need because it can be so difficult. The goal with trauma treatment should be to keep the client within the window of tolerance. Meaning if the client floods with an unbearable and emotional response they go beyond the window of tolerance kicking in the fight or flight response or the shut-down response and make no progress in their session. The client needs to have a healthy ventral vagal system to be successful at resolving their trauma (Paulsen 56). The best way to do this is with Yoga practice.
Vishnu-devananda discusses the difference between physical exercise and Yogic exercise. He demonstrates how the goal of the physical exercise is to intake oxygen combined with a violent physical movement which increased lactic acid in the muscles causing fatigue. Yoga, on the other hand, does not support violent physical movements and through circulating breath and postures achieves awareness with the inner supreme soul providing completeness and full consciousness of oneself (Vishnu-devananda 46-47). This ultimately provides inner peace and completeness as well as long-term health and well-being. By mastering these practices, one has perfected mind and body control as well as a spiritual discipline through psycho-physiological techniques. Therefore, by practicing Yoga one gains a quiet mind blocking mental chatter and negativity that eliminates tension, stress, and interference from external stimuli (Hewitt 371-378).
Yoga and meditative practices have furthermore been proven to assist in the improvement of blood pressure, lower heart rates, and manage involuntary cues affecting the ANS. Hewitt writes of the main purpose of Pranayama or the Yogic science of controlled breath, being to purify the bodily cells and nerves for controlled internal energies. But how does Yoga actually help do this? Yoga helps to manage the endocrine glands which secrete hormones straight into the blood system and are connected to the SNS and the vagus nerve. Uncontrolled emotions such as fear, anger, and sorrow can expend an overload of energy causing difficulty in further managing moods and other areas of functioning. These emotions drastically flood the ANS with different signals for how to respond. Therefore by practicing Yoga one strengthens these glands, returning secretion to a normal balance(Vishnu-devananda 46-47).
By practicing Yoga one can reunite with their previously disconnected body and become aware of the world around them and how that affects them. By having full consciousness of our environment and the self, one can manage symptoms when they arise instead of having involuntary responses their run their lives. When one comes to have inner peace and acceptance with the self they have better relationships and less harsh expectations of being perfect or inadequate but rather have peace with being who they are as an individual. All this being said, peaceful sleep returns, a calmness in the present begins to be the norm, and one can function as they please versus being controlled. Therefore, Yoga can be one of the best ways to treat trauma or be an adjunct therapy in treating PTSD.
Gomez, Ana. EMDR Therapy and Adjunct Approach with Children: Complex Trauma, Attachment, and Dissociation, Ch. 1. Springer Publishing Company, New York, NY, 2013.
Paulsen, Sandra. When There are No Words: Repairing Early Trauma and Neglect From the Attachment Period with EMDR Therapy,Bainbridge Institute for Integrative Psychology, Bainbridge Island, WA, 2017
Vishnu-devananda.Swami.The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga,Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 1988
Hewitt, James.The Complete Yoga Book: Yoga of Breathing, Yoga of Posturing, Yoga of Meditation, (Ch. 1).Shocken Brooks Inc., New York, 1977
America Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 5th Ed. American Psychiatric Publishing, Washington, DC. 2013 Print. 271-280.
I’ve had numerous clients tell me how their previous counselors were not very helpful; how they felt judged or humiliated, or even taken advantage of. You should never feel alone when in therapy. Your therapist is there to help you, guide you, listen to you, and most of all accept you. None of us are without blame or fault and all of us have limitations. I tend to tell my clients that we are all crazy, so really, none of us are because it’s normal to be all messed up.
Some characteristics to look for in a psychotherapist include empathy, warmth, compassion, unconditional positive regard, and knowledge.
Empathy: You know they really care and they really understand even if they haven’t been in the exact same situation. They can share in your feelings with you no matter how scary. Making you feel not so alone.
Warmth: They really listen. None of this looking at the computer, talking to you with their back to you. I mean really listening. It might even be awkward. Having someone finally listen to you the way you need to be listened to. You can feel their attentiveness, the warmth in their eyes, you can tell they really care about you.
Compassion: You can tell they have true concern for you, your suffering, and your personal growth. You can tell they want to see you succeed.
Unconditional Positive Regard: There is good in all of us. No matter what evils we have done or believe we have committed. We all deserve to feel loved, cared for, and accepted. Your therapist should convey this to you and be comfortable with who you really are no matter who that is.
Last words: Your therapist should have the ability to accept their own limitations, faults, and apologize for anything they may do wrong. Humbling themselves in front of you because they know you are a real person, with real feelings, and needs. We all make mistakes. Being comfortable with your therapist enough to correct them if they are wrong and knowing they’ll accept that and apologize brings you both one step closer to a real therapeutic relationship. With this, they should also be very in depth of their own practice. They should have confidence in their modality and convey that to you. They can trust their practice so you can trust them, installing hope for the future. Furthermore, accepting their limitations means staying within their own scope of practice and referring you to someone who can really help if they cannot.
When we have negative symptoms we feel crazy because we can’t be the us we want to be.
Problem is, we need to find out exactly what’s wrong. We all have some symptoms of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). The question is, do you fit the criteria enough for a diagnosis? Time restrictions are also considered. How long have you been suffering with this issue and how badly does it effect you. To be clinically diagnosed with a mental health disorder you must fit the required criteria, fit the time requirement, and these symptoms must also cause significant impairment in several areas of your life.
This information is not to replace a clinical evaluation but rather for personal education while professional consult is still recommended. Keep in mind that at one time during your life you may fit this criteria while during another you will not. With this being said you may not always have a mental health diagnosis throughout your entire life. Some factors need to be taken into consideration with these symptoms to include biological factors, family of origin, environmental issues, substance use, and current/past medications.
So, do you fit the criteria? Here are some brief explanations of three commonly diagnosed disorders that I assist my clients with:
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks and significantly impaired function : social, occupational, educational. These symptoms are not better explained by a different mental disorder.
Specific symptoms, at least 5 of these 9, present nearly every day:
Depressed mood or irritable most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day
Significant weight change (5%) or change in appetite
Change in sleep: Insomnia or hypersomnia
Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation
Fatigue or loss of energy
Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
Concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness
Suicidality: Thoughts of death or suicide, or has suicide plan
Generalized Anxiety Disorder ( GAD)
The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive. Excessive worry means worrying even when there is nothing wrong, or in a manner that is disproportionate to the actual risk. This typically involves spending a high percentage of waking hours worrying about something. The worry may be accompanied by reassurance-seeking from others.
The anxiety and worry are associated with at least 3 of the following physical or cognitive symptoms:
Edginess or restlessness.
Tiring easily; more fatigued than usual.
Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank.
Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others).
Increased muscle aches or soreness.
Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep).
The anxiety, worry, or associated symptoms make it hard to carry out day-to-day activities and responsibilities causing significantly impaired function: social, occupational, educational. These symptoms are unrelated to any other medical conditions and cannot be explained by the effect of substances including a prescription medication, alcohol or recreational drugs. These symptoms are not better explained by a different mental disorder.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: • Intrusion, • Avoidance, • Negative alterations in cognition and mood, and • Alterations in arousal and reactivity. These symptoms cause significant impairment in your social, occupational, and/or educational activities and are not better explained by a different mental disorder. Duration of symptoms (in Criteria B, C, D, and E) for more than one month.
Criterion A: Stressor- The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (one required)
Direct exposure to a traumatic incident.
Indirect exposure to a traumatic incident.
Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties.
Criterion B: Intrusion symptoms-The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s): (one required)
Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories, traumatic nightmares.
Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) which may occur on a continuum from brief episodes to complete loss of consciousness.
Intense or prolonged distress after exposure to traumatic reminders.
Marked physiologic reactivity after exposure to trauma-related stimuli.
Criterion C: Avoidance-Persistent avoidance of distressing trauma-related stimuli after the event: (one required)
Markedly diminished interest in significant activities.
Feeling alienated from others (e.g., detachment or estrangement).
Constricted affect: persistent inability to experience positive emotions.
Criterion E: Alterations in arousal and reactivity-Arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (two required)
Irritable or aggressive behavior
Self-destructive or reckless behavior
Exaggerated startle response
Problems in concentration
Note; Keep in mind that depression and anxiety symptoms can be ‘under the umbrella’ of PTSD. I always ask my clients what came first the traumatic event or the depression/anxiety.
Remember, even if you fit the criteria to have a mental health disorder this doesn’t mean that you are crazy. You are not alone and you can manage this issue. If you need further assistance we can set up an appointment or you can look on my website for other resources to help.
Nami is another great resource to look into for assistance. Click here to find out more.
You know your neighbor’s son who joined the military and came back a different person? Or the car accident you had last year and now you can’t hear a car horn without freaking out? Or the more common one where we don’t really talk about, the woman walking down the alley who was sexually assaulted and now she’s scared of the dark. It’s all around us but do we really accept them who suffer and support them the way they need? ? Do we recognize what impact it has on us as well? Sometimes the person we’ve known for years has symptoms of PTSD and we didn’t even know it.
Here are a couple stories that can relate:
A good relationship gone bad. John deployed for the military and left behind his wife Jenny and three small children. During this time Jenny took care of the kids and house to make sure everything was good while he was away. They were both excited to be back together when he discharged and came home. Unfortunately, when John arrived home he had little motivation when it came time to get a job, he drank too much, never slept, and was not that helpful with the kids.
No more intimacy. Ron married Lacy when they were both 23. They had two children and lived very happy lives together. Lacy was fine until her parents, who occasionally bicker, moved into town to be closer to the grand kids. All of a sudden Lacy never wanted to be intimate with Ron anymore. She and him were just as confused as the other as to why she didn’t want her husband to touch her anymore. Sometimes she would give in being resentful as to having to do this as a wife. She became irritable as did he and soon they started talking about separating because Lacy kept saying she just wanted space.
So why are these people acting like this if it is so frustrating!? Can’t they just change it? Are they really happy being like this?
What is PTSD?
PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental health disorder which affects our brain after experiencing or witnessing a violent event. Common symptoms include:
Feeling upset by things that remind you of what happened
Having nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event that make you feel like it’s happening all over again
Feeling emotionally cut off from others
Feeling numb or losing interest in things you used to care about
Feeling constantly on guard
Feeling irritated or having angry outbursts
Having difficulty sleeping
Having trouble concentrating
Being jumpy or easily startled
Ways some people cope with PTSD when they do not have the proper support or coping skills includes frequently avoid places or things that remind them of what happened, often drinking or using drugs to numb feelings, harming themselves or others whether verbally or physically, detaching from loved ones, over working, or sleeping too much.
Reasons for this behavior.
Neuroimaging research shows that parts of the brain function differently after a person has been impacted by violent or disturbing events. The amygdala, the hippocampus, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex play a major role in triggering the symptoms of PTSD.
The hippocampus is the region of the brain that is responsible for memory function. Decrease function in this area of PTSD sufferers means they cannot distinguish between present and past events and are often negatively triggered if they are reminded of their trauma, even in a small way which others can overlook. PTSD patients exhibit hyperactivity in their amygdala which sends stress responses and puts us in fight or flight mode. When these signals are sent we either want to run for our life or fight for our life due to this real or perceived threat. The Ventromedial prefrontal cortex helps to regulate emotions. When this region’s function is disrupted emotions like fear, anxiety, and stress responses delivered from the amygdala are not regulated like they should be.
The amygdala, the hippocampus, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex are the neural circuitry of stress. So there is no wonder why a person who experiences violence shows symptoms of PTSD. But what about the people who we talked about from the stories above? Once we know their stories it all makes sense….
Remember John the veteran? While he was away during his first deployment his humvee was repeatedly shot at while they drove to their post. His second tour his friend was killed next to him. His third tour he had to kill a 10 year old child who appeared to have a weapon, but they realized afterward the child was making false threats and did not actually have a weapon.
Remember Lacy who all of a sudden lost interest and was irritable all the time once her parents got there? Well how would it change your view of her behavior if you found out her parents used to be very violent towards one another. A few times Dad beat and raped Mom in front of Lauren and her younger siblings. Once while Lauren was a child she, her siblings, and Mom stayed in a domestic violence shelter to get away from Dad and here is where her younger sister was molested by a young boy who was also staying in the shelter with his mother. The good news is that Dad sought treatment and they recovered as a family. The sad news is the children were still effected.
So how do we make these relationships work with these difficult people? Well how would you make a relationship work with someone who had cancer? Empathize, be there for them, understand they have limitations and they are harder on themselves than anyone can be. Most importantly, we need to acknowledge that it takes two to tango. Being supportive and understanding is still not enough. Getting help together is a great start because it allows both people in the relationship to accept and work on their individual issues. Lets face it we all have them. No blaming, no pointing fingers, just healing together. It’s not easy either but it’s definitely worth it.
I hope this information has been helpful. I’d love to help you through this journey if you and your partner are in need of couple’s counseling to work through some of these issues. Or maybe I can help find another therapist or support group to fit your needs. Below you will find my web address which contains resource information that may also be helpful.
Every once and a while we all struggle with your same old looking at the clock and counting how many hours you have left until the alarm goes off.
Like some, you may even over use the snooze, myself included. However, suffering from insomnia is not as fun as knowing “It will be better tomorrow night.” Downsides to not getting enough rest include impaired judgement and decision making, slower reactions, lower work performance, immune system difficulties, higher anxiety, higher risk of developing depression, and overall a lower satisfaction with life. For those of you who suffer from endless sleep disturbance and want to get back on track but don’t know how, I hope the following is helpful:
Setting your biological clock is one of the best ways you can get on a regular sleep schedule. For this same reason this is why pediatricians have been burning these sleeping habits in parents heads about regular bed times for kiddos. When you’re on a regular sleeping schedule your body has been conditioned to go to sleep at the same time making it that much easier to drift off without struggle.
Believe it or not lighting can have something to do with it too.
Setting a dimmer or turning off most of the lights 2 hours before bed can help your body adjust to what is about to happen, which is bed time. With that being said, turning your clock away from you or turning down the light on your clock can help too.
Live in a busy area? Random motorcycles, ambulances, or neighbors making noise and jolting you awake? Having white noise in the background can help drowned out the noises around you and help you sleep better with less disturbance.
If you are as OCD as me with organization then you already have a to-do list but place it (or start making one and place it) by your bedside so when you can’t stop adding to it in your head at night you can write it down and promise yourself you can worry about it in the AM. Just that little bit can help you fall asleep faster because you are no longer constantly trying to NOT forget this one little but very important task that needs to be take care of tomorrow.
Doing something relaxing like stretching or meditating before bed is a great way of loosening up and preparing your body to slow down.
More and more we find ourselves getting caught up in social media or online surfing right before bed. This 2 second glimpse at your phone or IPad can lead to 2 more hours or surfing the web. You know you’ve done it. So have I. But try to stick to putting those gadgets away 2 hours prior to bed and don’t look at them again until morning. They will still be there in the morning I promise.
If you use some of these recommendations periodically, results will vary. Using them all together, better results. Using them all and nightly, best results. Unfortunately, we tend to think that all of these wonderful ideas will ensure my better night’s sleep all by itself. However, there are other factors to take into consideration though because sleep health is not just a nighttime thing. Our lifestyle choices impact out sleep tremendously.
Comfort is not always the issue but sometime it really really is. Have you heard the commercial about the mattress being more than 8 years and it’s time to replace it. Besides, sweat, dead skin, and dust mites accumulating in your mattress you’ve been wearing down that comfy pillow-top for years. Your body will thank you for a new one. Same goes for the pillows. Test your pillow by folding it in half and squeezing the air out of it. When you let it go, if it upfolds its good, if it stays folded, time to invest. Get a new one.
Beverages: Limit your caffeine intake to mornings and only one cup.
Yes, I said one cup. You won’t need so much after you start sleeping better. Though water-intake is a great practice, right before bed is not the best idea. It wakes you in the middle of the night, disrupting your sleep cycle and it’s not like you can just ignore it. Limit water consumption 1 hour before bed. Drinking alcohol also wakes you mid-sleep cycle. It can have a short term drowsy effect but when that wears off you’ll wake back up.
Last note: Stress is a silent killer.
It causes so many medical problems it should be considered a disease. Balancing some hormones should help though. Unfortunately, the more stressed you are the more Cortisol you have in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released when we are in fight or flight. The problem is the more stressed I am the more Cortisol have, the less calm I feel. Similarly to conditioning our bodies to having a bed time routine we condition our bodies to constantly be in distress. This cycle can be changed over time, so lets start now. Exercising relieves stress and increases the body’s Serotonin which is a neutrotransmitter that aids in sleeping, eating, and digestion. It is also known to help with anxiety and depression by effecting our moods. Spending time outdoors and getting a little sunlight during the day allows your body to create Melatonin. This hormone helps us sleep! Yay!
For more information sleepeducation.org is useful as well as Tapping in: By Laurel Parnell who offers many self soothing resources to help decrease stress which are very beneficial when trying to fall asleep. See the ‘Start Feeling Better Now‘ page of my website.