Cutting Edge Wellness at Clear Mind Systems
When we have long standing sleep problems we sometimes get conflicted about wanting to or being able to change that problem. This week I spoke to a woman who called last week with a 10 year long sleep problem. I counseled her over the phone and gave her some suggestions based on the problems I perceived in hearing her describe her habits. This week she said "I hate to admit it but I'm already sleeping better than I have in years". I said "that's wonderful but did you hear what you just said to me"? She even surprised herself when she heard herself say "I hate to admit it". I think it reflects the conflicts we have about change and success. It's normal to feel conflicted but try not to let it get in the way of your success. Sometimes we also feel conflicted and even foolish when one or two sessions make significant changes in our sleep quality after 10 years of suffering. At Clear Mind Systems Sleep Coaching we specialize in sleep improvement and because of that we can help you with long standing problems. But that doesn't make you foolish or stupid. In fact you were smart enough to seek help, really listen to the suggestions and make changes in long standing habits. The victory and the payoff is yours. And if you'd really like to sleep better give us a call. We can work over the phone. It's fun and easy and very effective. Most people can have significant improvement in from 2 to 5 sessions....even after 10 years of poor sleep.
If you're thinking about making a new year's resolution then you've already taken some kind of internal inventory and decided that there's "too much" or "not enough" of something. It might be that there's "too much" weight, or alcohol or smoking. It might be that there's "not enough" peace, fun, love or sobriety. This also means that you've taken a look at what may be unsatisfying in your life and wondered about what change might make life a little better. Already you've done something positive for your psyche. If everything about you was finished and complete you'd be finished with your journey on earth. The next step is to check into your level of desire for or willingness to change. Sometimes needed changes make us miserable or raise our level of pain. High levels of pain raise our degree of willingness to change. Or if the desired outcomes would make us very happy and satisfied that too raises the willingness to change. Sometimes the outcome or goal is a little more abstract. For instance we know that if we quit smoking that our health will improve and our life will most likely be 5 or 10 years longer. But there's something less tangible about improving health or lengthening life. You may not receive or notice that benefit for some time. You might have to use your imagination to envision a healthier and better life. Just check into this issue of "willingness to change" and see how high that level is. Sometimes you can detect that the willingness to change is low. In that case you can either give up the idea of change or decide on how to raise that desire to change. Get your desire or willingness to change as high as you can and in our third part of this blog we'll discuss putting your plan into action.
As 2013 draws to a close and the new year appears quietly on the horizon most of us reflect on personal changes, improvements and, dare I say, resolutions.
We have always struggled with the concept of New Year's resolutions, and lately resolutions have seemed to fallen into disfavor. It might be that in our "instant quick fix" culture we find the idea of resolving to make a change and then doing all the work necessary to genuinely keep that promise just a bit daunting. Isn't there an app for that?
Resolutions invite us to think about our lives, our work, our habits and health in a way that requires us to look inside our selves. The answers to these deeper questions are not on our smart phones, will not arrive in an email or be answered in a tweet. The fast food momentarily distracting pleasures on the internet can't answer these important and very personal questions.
That's one of the beauties of resolutions. To even think about the word resolution we have to ask ourselves all the hardest questions about our lives. Are we working at a job that fulfills our expectations and dreams? Are we participating in our love relationship, family and friendships or just going through the motions? Do we have habits or addictions that are slowly destroying our health one day at a time? As the circle of a year comes full and complete are we really where we can be in our lives? Am I willing to ask these questions and then commit myself to the answer?
As the month of December progresses we'll address this opportunity of resolutions and how to make them succeed in 3 blog posts. Begin by asking the questions above and any other "quality of life" questions that come to mind.
Remember that only you can design and create the life that you live. Begin creating the life you want by looking honestly at the life you have.
When I teach classes on sleep improvement I field an enormous amount of questions. And questions have an interesting way of making a statement. The overall feeling I get from many of these questions is that people feel that drugs, medications and pills are very powerful, and that behavioral changes are light and kind of "touchy feely". The assumption is often that medications make powerful changes that are chemical and not just about feelings. But the truth is that behaviors and habits initiate very powerful chemical changes. In fact even "feelings" create changes in our brain and body chemistry.
On the negative side: Blue light from TV's and computers at night just before bed can create some very negative chemical changes in the brain. Blue light makes the brain produce very powerful alerting chemicals that make the brain want to think and worry right at the time when we need the brain to be quieting down for sleep. These chemicals can make going to sleep and staying asleep nearly impossible. Blue light at night also suppresses the brain's production of melatonin. Melatonin tells the brain to stop thinking and helps sleep to be more durable as the night unfolds. In other words, blue light at night, creates very powerful chemical changes that make sleep fragile and difficult.
On the positive side: Darkness at night makes the brain slow down its production of powerful alerting chemicals. Darkness also tells the pineal gland in the back of the brain to produce melatonin, making sleep easy and less prone to arousals and worry.
Light at night during sleep from night lights and TV's can also increase the appetite and make us want to eat during the night. Studies have suggested that light exposure during sleep can raise the risk for certain cancers.
The take-away from this is that behavioral changes are very powerful and intimately linked to our chemistry and health. Good habits that support sleep make powerful changes in the way the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems function. Good natural sleep is easier to create than you think.
I help people with sleep problems from simple insufficient sleep, insomnia, parasomnias, sleep apnea and pain interrupted sleep. I've noticed in listening closely to the language that grows out of insufficient sleep that the words that people use tell us a lot about the importance and nature of sleep. The following phrases are very commonly used by people suffering from sleep disorders.
"I'm a mess"...."I always feel so scattered" ....."I'm all over the place"...."I can't remember anything"...."I have so many completely different symptoms".." everything hurts" ...and so on.
I think that in an unconscious way people are referring to one of the deepest qualities of sleep. Sleep is a function that is very central. It supports many different systems and functions from heart and lungs, to appetite and weight, memory and learning, mood and emotions, energy and strength, injury and wear-repair, nervous system and pain issues and even levels of motivation and simple well being.
When sleep is compromised we begin to feel like a "mess" like so many things aren't functioning properly. Or we feel mentally scattered, low, forgetful, sleepy, fatigued, sore and out of sorts.
When you think about it, sleep by affecting so may systems and functions really is the "glue" that holds us together physically, mentally and emotionally.
The really positive message in this piece is that when we repair sleep we repair the whole body, mind and emotions. The 'glue' holds us together and gives us a wholly better life experience...every day and night.