Stress and insomnia can go hand in hand: too little sleep, the body loses its ability to deal with stress, so normal inconveniences grow to epic significance, which leads to more stress, which leads to less sleep, and the cycle continues.
Reducing the stress in your life can help bring some relief with insomnia issues, and relieving your insomnia can help bring your stress level down. How do you go about doing that?
Most research agrees on a few things:
1. Limit your caffeine intake. (that includes coffee, tea, chocolate, some sodas).
2. Exercize to bring more oxygen into your body. The amount varies depending on your lifestyle. If you don’t
get much exercize, even a 20 minute brisk walk will help. Dancing is exercize too! Remember if you overdo
it, you may have to deal with some other issues.
3. Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated to wash out toxins from your body.
4. Try not to watch TV in bed. Watching TV just before you go to sleep is a big no-no. Especially if you’re
watching action, horror or news. It’s important to control what is the last thing that goes into your
consciousness before you go to sleep.
5. Don’t drink alcohol too late before you go to bed. That glass of wine may make you sleepy, but it may also
be the reason you wake up at 2 or 3 AM.
Try calming chamomile with mint tea or lemon balm tea.
Now let’s look at some other things you can do to help reduce your stress levels and help you sleep better.
Traditional Chinese medicine would indicate that insomnia is caused by an uneven distribution of energy, because the energy flows in the body cannot flow freely. We have 12 main meridians in our bodies, each related to an organ system. As well, each meridian is “dominant” or in ascendance for a certain 2 hour period each day. Based on this, if the organ system that is in ascendance during the night is blocked, you may have problems sleeping.
There are five meridians at play here during the night hours, and here are their times:
From 9-11 PM, the triple warmer or (fight or flight meridian)
From 11PM – 1AM the Gall Bladder
From 1-3 AM the Liver
From 3-5 AM the Lung
From 5-7 AM the Large Intestine
So, for example if you usually wake up between 1 and 3 am, maybe your Liver meridian is at issue. Do you have a tendency to eat a lot of oily foods, or have a cholesterol issue? What if you can’t go to sleep between 9 and 11 pm? Those worries and thoughts about what you need to do and how are swirling through your head; that’s the triple warmer at play here.
In addition, insomnia is related to the Heart Meridian, and if there is excess energy in the Heart meridian, it may be hard to sleep.
Working with the Acutonics Tuning Forks and Tibetan bowls, I find that clients typically go into a meditative state in which the body can do its own healing work and energy blockages can be released in the body and the mind. In fact, some clients go to sleep while they’re on my table (though they report having detailed dreams, almost like waking dreams).
But what can you do when you’re at home and you can’t sleep?
• on the inside of the heel is a point called “joyful sleep” (on the kidney meridian)
• on the outside of the heel is a point called “calm sleep” (on the Bladder meridian)
Press on both of these points and release slowly. Do this a few times. It could help to just massage around the achilles tendon and heel area (both sides).
• on the outside of the wrist at the notch is a Heart point called
Pressing on this point, and releasing slowly can help calm the heart and relieve anxiety.
• on the top of the foot about an inch towards you from the crease between the big toe and the 2nd toe is a Liver point that helps release excess energy from the liver meridian. This can also help with insomnia.
• if your mind just won’t stop “chattering”, try a spleen point located on your shin, about 4 fingers width up from the ankle. Many people (women especially) find this point to be a little tender, so go gently. Remember press, then release slowly.
REMEMBER to BREATHE!!
What are you listening to? When you’re driving are you listening to radio with lots of fast-paced commercials jangling at you? Maybe you’re listening to upbeat music? While that may put you in a good, energetic mood, it also increases your heart rate. Try listening to slower jazz or mellow world music and watch how your heart rate can slow down. When I’m feeling frazzled, I turn on meditative music and notice how those nagging “issues” seem to take less importance. Yes, they can be issues I need to deal with, but I cannot deal with them while I’m driving, so I might as well use that time to recover my “zen” so to speak.
I read an article recently by Stephen Halpern about brainwave entrainment. According to Halpern, “Rhythmic entrainment is the physical phenomenon in which a stronger external rhythmic system causes a weaker system (your heart) to synchronize to its rhythm.” CommonGround, June 2012 issue. www.commongroundmag.com
With brainwave entrainment, your brain responds to the beats per minute, and that can affect your brainwave frequency.
There are four main frequency ranges: Delta (deep sleep), theta (REM sleep, deep meditative states), alpha (drifting to sleep, meditative), beta (normal everyday life, talking, thinking, etc.). Obviously, if we wanted to get to sleep, we’d want to get into the alpha state, and could do that by listening to brain entrainment music, meditating before sleep, listening to soft, slow music before sleeping, slow deep breathing, etc.
Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis, an otolaryngologist specializing in voice and hearing disorders began working with sounds in the 1940s, but later progressed his work so that more recent research based on his discoveries have confirmed that music does improve brain function by helping the crossover activity between the right and left hemispheres. But more importantly for this discussion, certain listening programs, when used with headphones that vibrate the bones in the ear affect the vagus nerve, which acts as a regulatory device, helping us to respond to stressful situations and then return to a calm state. (Alex Doman, healing at the speed of sound www.alexdoman.com ).
That is why sound healing works so well. When I use certain tuning forks, around the head and certain acupressure points , the stress melts away, and the body relaxes. Tibetan bowls, certain crystal bowls, other instruments can have similar effects.
Some of us respond to certain frequencies in certain ways. I read a story by Dr Upledger who created the Cranio Sacral Therapy about a successful orchestra conductor who suffered terrible back pain. To make a long story short, Dr Upledger discovered (with intuitive hits and his experience) that the A note caused his spine to tighten up and the pain to increase, while the G and B notes were effective in relaxing the back muscles and helped relieve the tension and pain in his spine. Interestingly the orchestra always tuned up on the A note. I wonder if he tuned his orchestra on the G note after that discovery? (Please note that this may not be true for everyone…each person responds differently to different notes or frequencies). (Your Inner Physician and You, John E. Upledger, D.O., O.M.M.)
The takeaway from all this? Pay attention to how different sounds affect you and your mental and emotional state. There are many things you can control in your environment!
Try placing a drop of Lavender oil on the palm of your hand, cup it over your nose and breathe in deeply. Not sniffing, but deep, slow breaths, feeling the aroma absorb into your body and all of your cells. The volatile nature and low molecular weight of essential oils allow them to disperse quickly through the body. The quality of the oil is relevant!! It can mean the difference between a sharp, clinical feel, to a subtle unfolding of different levels of sensual delight!
While I use different essential oils from a variety of sources, my favorite Lavender is Floracopeia’s Lavender Kashmir.
Ylang Ylang oil is another useful oil, and is a tremendous help in lowering blood pressure and stress.
Try going to your local herb shop or place that sells essential oils and smell the testers to see what resonates with you. It is also possible that certain smells may trigger emotional memories (pleasant or not), so try the testers on your wrist and stay with it, observing your reaction. (one oil at a time).
Try taking a nice bath in 2 cups of Epsom salts before you go to bed. The Epsom salts are made of the mineral Magnesium Sulfate which are sedatives for the nervous system. They also draw toxins from the body through the skin and relax the muscles. Magnesium is the 2nd most abundant element in the human cells and many of us are deficient in this mineral. Are you a sensitive person, who tends to feel confusion and disorganized after being around a large group (conferences, faires, etc)? A bath in Epsom salts is a GREAT way to release any energies you may have taken on or picked up that doesn’t necessarily belong to you!
So to wrap it up, here are a few things you can do on you own to help reduce your anxiety and stress and to help you sleep better.
-sound healing (with programmed music, or just changing the music you listen to)
You can also talk to your local herbalist about certain herbs in teas or tinctures that can help, such as melatonin , valerian root or Ashwaganda. Herbs can have different effects on different people and what may work for one, may not work for you, and vice versa. For most people, it’s not a fixed remedy; you have to experiment until you find what works for you.