I recently came across a quote that was attributed to the Buddha. The quote reminded me of how everything we do really does matters. Everyday life experiences influences our health, our well-being, and our ability to let go into the sacred night of sleeping and dreaming.
The quote reads: “My actions are my only belongings: I cannot escape their consequences. My actions are the ground on which I stand.” We repeat our actions over and over again and again everyday some are positive and some are negative actions. Building the bridge of “awareness of our actions” can be a direct practice of cultivating a life with peaceful sleep.
Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery is educational in nature and can be used in conjunction with your current healthcare providers approach in treating your insomnia.
Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery explore practices that strengthen your awareness in relationship to your actions, reactions, daily habits, rituals, and your beliefs resulting in deeper peace, increased relaxation and improved sleeping patterns. The eight keys offer teachings in self-regulation. Self-regulation is a mindfulness practice that leads to healthier days and healthier nights.
In our revved-up culture many of our actions have become reactions, resulting in habitual unhealthy stress referred to as “hyper-arousal”. Chronic “hyper-arousal” can lead to overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. That overstimulation can interfere with our natural rhythms that lead to states of healthy deep sleep. Thinking we “escape” what we do during the daytime is an illusion. Our life does not stop when we get into our bed at night. Our day can follow us into bed at night. Perhaps you can recall a recent event that haunted your restless sleep. Remembering these restlessness nights helps to craft a healthier daytime life, one that is more reflective of peace, acceptance, and equanimity. The good news is you can learn how to decrease hyper-arousal through self-regulation practices.
Learning how to manage daytime stress can reduce the frequency of interrupted sleep. Feeding the pattern of “hyper-arousal” with reactive negativity may result in anxiety that can keep you awake at night. Your body and mind is attempting to toss and turn away the state of hyper-arousal. The first practice is to discharge the pent-up energy that has been stored throughout the day prior to sleep at night. The practice that follows is to learn how to self-regulate the amount of energy you take in and give out throughout the day. Your body is very intelligent and will “hunt” for ways to release, relax and let go into deeper states of sleeping and dreaming.
You can think of hyper-arousal as overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Overstimulation may result in sleeplessness, middle of the night ruminating about the past and up the next day feeling fatigued and frustrated. Night after night we rob the body of specialized natural healing that occurs only during sleep. Learning skills of “self-regulation” paves the way to healthier sleep, a healthier body and a healthier mind.
Natural Sleep Recovery offers Eight Keys for understanding and exploring the art and science of “self-regulation”. Natural Sleep Recovery defines “self-regulation” as mindfulness-based practices that influence a healthy relationship to sleeping and dreaming. Though mindfulness roots come from the study of Buddhism it is to not a religious practice. Mindfulness is educational in nature. Mindfulness can be simply defined as: experiencing your life with an attitude of acceptance while cultivating a relaxed, present-centered awareness.
The Eight Keys of Natural Sleep Recovery assist you in making the shifts that are required to experience deeper states of relaxation, sleeping and dreaming. The Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery provide a clear understanding of what habits and challenges keep you from deep restorative sleep. Today, we understand that healthy food, adequate exercise, positive relationships, and healthy attitudes of equanimity lead to deep restorative sleeping and dreaming.
Within each of the Eight Keys there are a number of specific skills that you can explore. Each key point will help you learn how to improve your sleeping and dreaming. Natural Sleep Recovery opens your life to reclaiming deep sleep.
Key # 1: Recognize: Rhythms and cycles are essential to all life on our planet. Our fast-paced lifestyle has pulled us away from our natural rhythms and most people today are “simply out of synch with their circadian rhythms”. Being out of synch with your circadian rhythms can result in serious health challenges. Circadian Rhythms are our biological internal clock that regulates physiological changes necessary for maintaining health. Circadian Rhythms are influenced by light and the darkness found within a 24-hour period. Along with light and darkness our habits have a direct influence on the health of our natural rhythms. Daily habits can be healthy and many daily habits are simply not healthy, we have lost touch with our rhythms. Circadian Rhythms are essential to our body being able to have a natural sleep-awake cycle. Take a few moments to explore your daily habits. Recognize that what you do during the day influences how well you rest at night.
Key Points to Remember:
- How much natural light are you exposed to during the morning and the evening?
- 20 Minutes of being outside in natural morning light and 20 minutes of late afternoon natural light will help to set your Circadian Rhythms.
- How much blue light exposure do you consume during your awakened hours? Blue light is basically our electrical lights, TV, computer screens etc.
- Blue light exposure is a concern in the evening. Too much TV/Computer exposure in the evening can delay Melatonin production.
- To decrease blue light exposure in the evening wear Blue Blocker glasses after 7 pm. Reduce the amount of blue-light exposure beginning with 10% less exposure. Turn you house lights to a dim setting in the evening.
- Is your room completely blackened with no light exposure at night?
- Blocking out all light in your bedroom will influence Melatonin production resulting in healthier Circadian Rhythms.
Key 2: Examine: Examine your natural rhythms in an honest, open manner. Examining your patterns and habits in this honest, natural manner can strengthen your ability to deep states of sleeping and dreaming.
Key Points to Remember:
- What is your nightly pattern of retiring to bed?
- Conditioning a pattern of nightly bedtime in a healthy relationship to sleep that supports your overall mental and physical health.
- Begin by going to bed by 10 pm 5 nights a week, eventually extend that time to 6 nights per week. Your body will naturally signal you that it is time to go to bed. Be patient it can take several months of practice to synch with your circadian rhythms.
- Examine your thoughts throughout the day. Remember what we think, how we respond to our life and how we utilize our daytime energy influences how well we can let go at night. Thoughts carry powerful messages into our mental and physical body. Begin to mindfully catch yourself prior to a knee-jerk pattern of communicating.
- Allow and cultivate more friendliness in your personal life, begin at home with those closest to you.
Key 3: Explore: Explore your relationship to sleep and allow your relationship to become loving, patient, appreciative, and compassionate. One of the greatest challenges with chronic insomnia is that you may have developed a pattern of anxiety in relating to your living life. This can be a result of chronic hyper-arousal. Hyper-arousal stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, which is over-stimulating, tiring, and conflicts with deep relaxation and sleep. Explore the possibility of learning to let go of your habits of reaction that may include: anxiety, frustration and anger. Replace those reactions of hyper-arousal interference with caring, patience and appreciation. We can learn to fall back in love with sleeping and dreaming.
Key Points to Remember:
- Develop a morning ritual that may be a simple reading that helps you remember your loving-heart.
- Get outside in the morning light to get a dose of self-regulation.
- Pace your energy throughout the day to include brief periods of deep, slow, long breaths. This will activate the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in conscious deep restorative relaxation.
- Self-regulate your emotions during the day by increasing peaceful and thoughtful responses to your personal daily challenges.
Key 4: Track: Track your patterns with a mind and body of curiosity and interest.Practice inviting your observing mind into your life. Your observing mind is open to opportunities that will lead you to managing your mental and physical well-being. Tracking your life practices leads you into healthier, deeper and more restful sleeping and dreaming.
Key Points to Remember:
- Track your daily habits like: caffeine, nutrition, alcohol and exercise. Begin with realistic goals:
- Decrease your caffeine consumption by 20%.
- Decrease your sugar consumption by 20%.
- Decrease process food consumption by 20%.
- Decrease alcohol intake by 20%.
- Add 20% more water, fruit and veggies and natural foods into your daily intake. Know what you consume makes a difference in how you sleep.
- Everyday make a commitment to 20 minutes of exercise that moves energy in your body and mind. A good 30-minute walk is ideal. Morning light or late afternoon light is also ideal while exercising.
- Historically we tend to repeat our patterns. Connect yourself everyday to being aware of tracking your habits and patterns.
- Track how your attitude may be contributing to building up fatigue and stress.
- Releasing the stress during the day contributes to how well you can rest, relax and sleep at night.
Key 5: Allow: Invite and allow guidance that you are learning with an open mind. The attitude of “allowing” provides a receptive way of learning and retraining our patterns thus experiencing self-regulation. Inviting the practice of mindfulness can open your life to acceptance and cultivate relaxation. This invitation can increase your ability to be more aware and living gracefully “in-the-moment.’
Key Points to Remember:
- Begin everyday with an attitude of gratitude and acceptance.
- Allow time to get out of bed with ease and relaxation.
- Take a moment to remember your dream. Simply take notice of the dream. Do not try to figure it out. Be grateful for any dreaming. Cultivate an attitude that all dreams are healthy.
- Begin your day with a ritual that helps you to remember maintaining an open-spacious attitude will support your mental and physical health throughout the day.
- Allow time to pace your energy throughout the day, this creates a healthy pattern of not “pushing your energy” throughout the day and into the night.
- Allow deep breathing throughout the day. Extend your exhalation to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system for increase relaxation.
- Allow others to have their opinions, judgments and attitudes; they are going to have them anyway. Allow space for what has historically created contraction or judgment for you.
Key 6: Knowledge: Empowerment comes through knowledge. Become your best personal advocate for better sleep. Focus on a natural integrative approach that includes creating healthy lifestyle patterns and habits. Know that there are many ways to reclaim your sleep! Do not give up, and explore all possibilities.
Key Points to Remember:
- Review articles that provide knowledge of integrative and allopathic approaches to sleep.
- Review research findings on evidence-based integrative approaches. Notice how the study has been funded. This helps to determine if the study is objective or biased.
- Be open to exploring new sleep ideas that support healthy lifestyle practices for improving sleep. Stay away from gimmicks with a quick fix promise.
- Review all possibilities with your healthcare provider.
- Remember that sleep medication is best used on a short-term basis.
- Go to bed earlier than usual, and get up early to reset your natural rhythms.
- Learn new eating habits that reduce sugar, fried, and processed food. Learn why your body and brain requires healthy whole low carbohydrate food choices.
Key 7: Believe: Believing is a very powerful healing attitude. Research findings reveal that our beliefs and expectations influence the effectiveness of healthcare practices and treatments, supporting our ability to heal faster. Your body is always at work establishing a sense of internal balance. The body’s innate intelligence can lead you back to balanced, natural sleep rhythms.
Key Points to Remember:
- Believe in the intelligence of your circadian rhythms; honor your rhythms with practices and habits that support them.
- Maintain healthy bedtime and awakening routines to support your natural rhythms.
- Believe in your ability to heal with the support of your inner and outer resources.
- Believe in your ability to get back to a healthy sleeping pattern.
- Awakening in the middle of the night is not something to worry about. Believe that your body can get back to sleep.
- Know that when you are chronically sleep-deprived, your judgment can be impaired, mood may become depressed and energy can become depleted. Believe that you can restore your health by being mindful about how you are experiencing and living your daily life.
Key 8: Remember: Remember that you can learn how to reclaim deep sleep and dreaming. There may be a number of issues keeping you awake. There are many ways to effectively address your sleep issues.
Key Points to Remember:
- Review your attitudes and ideas about sleeping; explore any conditional sleep attitudes and beliefs that you can modify.
- Conditional sleep attitudes and beliefs may include ideas about what you think you cannot sleep without (e.g., alcohol, the sound of music).
- Remember that sleep is natural; the more you normalize ideas around sleep, the more relaxed you will become.
- Remember to take the drama out of sleep, and recall how to live with the daily cycles of daytime and nighttime.
- Practicing kindness during the daytime will lead to more peaceful nights, including the nights that you awaken with worry about getting back to sleep.
- Remember that you are not the only person awakening during the night; many people wake up and then go back to sleep, which is a natural process.
Join us on Sunday, October 21st at 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. for a FREE Beta Test experiential webinar on “The Circadian Rythms of Sleep Recovery,” with Linda Cammarata, RN, RYT to explore the Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery through hatha yoga, qigong, mindful autogenics, breath work, and guided meditation. Click HERE for more information and to register today!
Again, the URL to register for the FREE Beta Test webinar is:
Written by Linda Cammarata, RN, RYT (For more information on Linda’s approach to Natural Sleep Recovery, please go to her website at http://www.mind-bodywellness.org/)
Tags: mind body medicine, Stress Management
Mind/body techniques take into consideration that the body is the historian. The body holds information that perhaps the mind wants to forget. In its determination to keep us honest, the body nags at us in the form of anxiety or gastrointestinal problems, head aches or muscle tension until we pay attention. Talk therapy provides mental relief and sometimes the body lets go, too. But mind/body interventions can add another dimension to our work.
How? Good question. Many of you may recognize that the attitude of separation of mind and body is passé. And so you may already have sought training in interventions that keep “the body in mind” like Somatic Experiencing, EMDR or Hypnosis. Others of you may have been trained in approaches to therapy in which mental health is considered mental. In either case, there are some simple but powerful and easy-to-learn ways to help people reverse the physiology of stress.
Talk therapy is the most reasonable place to start. We converse with our patients and they guide us so we can guide them through their anguish and confusions. By bringing cognitive understanding of life’s problems to awareness, and by building on their resources, there can be great relief from suffering.
But the body may not fully let go, even when there is great mental relief from our work. In addition, we need to consider that given all of the stress in life, we are all likely to arrive at a place sooner or later where our coping skills fall short of the demands of a stressful situation. Whether left-over residue or new stressors, with mind/body techniques we can use the mind to trick the brain (body) to let go of stress—often with very few words.
We can learn ourselves, and then we can teach patients that the body, which can be as uncomfortable to live in as the mind, is our ally. We can show them how to honor the body’s demand for recognition. We can teach them tools which bring balance and homeostasis to the body-mind. The key reason to learn mind/body skills is so we can set our patients up to feel a deeper, perhaps more permanent relief from suffering. Of most importance is our patients get to feel in the driver’s seat of their own lives. To feel empowered with mind/body skills is to have the power to heal as needed. And what can be more satisfying for us as therapists than to empower our patients?
Think of it this way: Coping can be broken down into two categories: “Problem-solving coping” is a cognitive, left brain approach to dealing with adversity. Cognitive behavioral therapy is famous for matching solutions to problems. So is seeking social support, discharging emotions into a journal, exercising and various healthy distractions such as humor or creative projects.
But another category of coping has been measured to provide empowerment in a statistically significant way. It has been called “letting-go coping.” This is different from problem-solving coping because it is about “being” rather than “doing.” “Letting-go coping” takes the patient under the turbulence—into their body. These techniques have in common focus on the breath. Conscious breathing helps us use our breath to enter our body.
Yogic breath work, the field-tested Relaxation Response™, guided imagery, the Labyrinth™, Mindfulness, Self-Hypnosis, Creating Affirmations—and more—will round out your repertoire of offerings to your patients, especially if talk therapy stalls. Join me in a two-day training seminar in New York City, co-sponsored by the Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC. You will learn how these approaches have evolved from the context of cutting edge brain science and how to apply these techniques in various circumstances. For more information on our two-day training seminar in New York City this coming November 16th and 17th, please go to the homepage of the Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC at http://www.mindbodymedicinenetwork.com/index.html.
Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD
Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist,
Practitioner of Mind/Body Therapy
Author, On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility