Quality of sleep can affect every aspect of your life - your mood, your general well being and health, as well as your immune system. It can be incredibly distressing if falling asleep becomes a constant uphill battle. Here is a little around my journey with insomnia and how I healed my sleep life.
While I really believe in the emotional and spiritual aspects to this issue, it is important to note a few things here. Firstly, that we are all different and we will all have different ways of healing and dealing with any ailment or issue. Secondly that insomnia can have multiple causes, often more than one cause for each individual. Also, that some cases are worse than others. Always work hand in hand with your medical practitioner in order to heal. Always filter information through your own intuitive senses. My solution may not be yours. I always love to work with a holistic approach - I include energy medicine, practical medicine, emotional medicine as well as Western medicine (when necessary). You are after all a multidimensional being, so I recommend working from multiple levels.
My personal journey with insomnia did not include Western medicine. I grew up in a home that did not easily call upon a doctor. As a teenager, without the agency to seek medical help, I suffered sleepless nights for two years (never sleeping more than an hour at a time) before I decided to take healing into my own hands. I started reading everything that I could around insomnia and good sleep hygiene, it took six months of focused habit changing to invoke a full recovery. I have not suffered a night of insomnia since.
Here are some tools and tips that I used to shift my sleeping patterns:
- Separate out the kinds of activities that happen in your sleep space and normal waking life. For example, no studying or working on your bed and no laptops or cellphones in bed. Declare your bed a sacred space. Designate only calming and loving activities for this space.
- If you like to read in bed, stick to soft and gentle content - save the thrillers and horrors (which increase your heart rate) for other spaces.
- Decide on a regular bedtime and create a sleeptime routine that begins about an hour before that bedtime. Your bedtime routine should incorporate the following:
- Dim all lights, in particular the bright white or blue lights. Even better if you can light candles instead.
- Close your curtains.
- If you like to play music, put some gentle meditative stuff on.
- Stop watching TV or series on the laptop, as well as scrolling through social media. The light shining in your eyes messes with your sleep regulation hormone - melatonin.
- Do some gentle stretching or some self-love practices such as having a relaxing bath or a self-scalp massage.
- Don't eat during your bedtime routine and don't drink too much water just before bed.
- Use black out curtains to stop artificial light coming in from outside.
- Exercise a little daily so that the body releases pent up energy.
- Eat healthy food that is alive and resonates for your body.
- Drink plenty of good, clean, natural water during the day.
- Look into breathwork and meditation practices to help you to calm your nervous system and meditate yourself into sleep.
- Let go of the need to sleep. This one may sound particularly strange but often insomniacs get so stressed out that they are not sleeping, that they self-perpetuate their cycle of not sleeping, eventually getting up and cleaning or doing work again. Give yourself permission to not need to fall asleep, ie. take the pressure off of yourself. If you go into a deep calming meditation, this can give you the rest you need to feel great tomorrow. Whether or not this is true, is not the issue here. This permission was the thing I needed in order to get calm enough in order to actually fall asleep. I never once spent the entire night in meditation, I always fell asleep. And this was after years of insomnia.
Improving the quality of your sleep can drastically improve every aspect of your life. It is well worth making the effort to implement these habits. It may sound like a task, but the pay off is immense. I have often shared these techniques with insomniacs who complain that they can't do these things for whatever reason. For me this is where it is obvious that people don't want to heal themselves. They want to play the victim and have some greater force come and rescue them. At the end of the day you are the active agent in your healing and you are far more powerful than you can possibly comprehend. You are only a victim if you believe you are a victim. Be the healer instead.
Wishing you a happy healing sleep journey.
Collage by Carla Janse van Rensburg using images by Carla Janse van Rensburg & Gheon Steenkamp