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Why Can't I Sleep?

Getting to sleep and staying asleep are two separate issues, both can be fixed


The Dalai Lama says sleep is the best meditation, but it's also a reputable medicine thanks to all the benefits.


BENEFITS OF SLEEP

  • Better immune system

  • Increased focus and clarity

  • Lower appetite

  • Improved psychosocial skills (ie. less grumpy)


A healthy sleep-wake cycle is the elixir of life, and when it's disrupted we feel awful. Waking up feeling groggy makes us more likely to skip breakfast and go straight to the coffee pot. That shot of caffeine is our attempt to increase focus.


Lack of sleep ignites two specific hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Increased ghrelin stimulates appetite (you ever notice how a poor night's sleep makes you crave carbs and caffeine? That's ghrelin). Leptin on the other hand becomes inhibited which flips it out of its usual role as an appetite suppressant and energy management into a foggy, clumsy mess that is the tired human.


So, what to do?


You're likely already aware of sleep hygiene – the term given to creating a routine around bedtime that includes certain dos and dont's. No? Well, you'd better read this article first.


The no-shock news is that xx% of people who sleep badly don't have a regular nighttime routine. But, just as with weight loss, if it was as simple as going to bed at the same time each night, we'd all be waking up like fresh little daisies and I'd be out of a job.


As with many things, the issue isn't in the habit, it's in the nuances. We are so good at generalising but we aren't so keyed into looking at the fine details. What works for one may not work for another. The key then is taking out our metaphorical microscope and looking under the covers.


Some common discoveries I have witnessed is that people who have trouble sleeping also suffer from excessive thinking. They are the active minds who live busy lives and like to be on the go. They love to get the most out of life and have a lot of interests.


There's also the stagnant types. People who don't move much during the day can sometimes improve their sleep patterns by adding some activity. But that's the stuff you can find on the net.


When a person comes to me with a sleep issue we begin by gathering information over a 2-week period. Before we can make any changes, we need to know What Is Happening Now? A detailed observation over 14 days is the starting point of immense insight.


None of us is a textbook human, we have good days, bad days, moods and memories, we have partners who snore, pets or kids to look after, and no two days are usually the same.


That's why I love using neuroscience as the basis for change. I work with people at the most intricate levels, we gather data so we can see exactly what you are doing, when then we get to look at why and how those thoughts, feelings or actions are occuring.


It's not rocket science but it is neuroscience and understanding yourself at this level promotes change that will work for you but not necessarily anyone else.


A refreshing night's sleep is possible. The question is, are you ready and able to do the work to make that dream come true?


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