Sleep heals us, body, mind and soul. Unfortunately, insomnia is a wide spread problem. All sorts of things can interrupt sleep:
Pain, kids, cats, worry, stress, noise, electronics, light.
Cats. I mentioned the cats, right? Jumping on your head. Attacking your feet. Running insanely through the house at 3 am howling and knocking glassware off the counter...
Personally, my sleep has been fragmented ever since my first child was born, twenty-five years ago. Somehow, I've never been able to regain the ability to sleep through the entire night, even though the kids have all moved out of the house. Of course, there are the cats. And now there are also hot flashes. I should mention that once you've flung all of the covers off so you can bask in the tropical paradise of a 3 a.m. hot flash, your bare feet are now fair game for the claws of a playful cat.
Of course, there are sleeping pills available, all of which have side effects and drawbacks. Most of them interfere with the normal sleep cycle, what is called the Architecture of Sleep. A lot of them leave you feeling hung over in the morning. Some carry the potential for addiction or at least dependence.
Seeing as I'm all about natural health whenever possible, I've tried most of the standard sleep advice (with the exception of giving up caffeine. They will pry the last beautiful mug of coffee out of my cold dead hands). These are all things that have helped:
- Relaxation breathing
- Keeping a regular sleep schedule for bedtime and waking
- Dark room
- Cool room
- White noise
- Valerian root (warning: this stuff stinks. We call them the Cow Pie PIlls at our house)
- Cutting out electronics for at least thirty minutes before bed
- Keeping a worry list
The latest experiment is working with a CD using what's called "the Aurelis Method" by J.L. Mommaerts. This is from the Aurelis Project website:
"The purpose of the AURELIS project is to use autosuggestion as a means to communicate with the subconscious and to direct its tremendous power in order to gain better health and well being."
In practical terms, this method seems to be part auto-suggestion, part guided imagery, and part hypnotherapy.
I've had the Mommaerts CD sitting around for years and never bothered to try it. I'm not sure why. This last week I pulled it out and loaded it into my iTunes. I've loved working with it, and even though I'm still not sleeping for more than 4 hours at a stretch, I'm sleeping more deeply and have more energy.
Mommaerts has a lovely voice, a delightful accent, and the endearing trait of sometimes using English words that are not precisely right. For me, this adds charm to a system that does seem to work to invoke better sleep.
I tried to find a place where you could buy this CD or the MP3, and all I can find at this point is a subscription to the Aurelis site. But, there are a lot of other guided imagery sleep CDs here, at Health Journeys. I plan to try a few of these in the very near future.
Next week I'm off to a week long training in heart-centered hypnotherapy, a practice that I hope will bring better sleep to me, as well as allowing me to bring better sleep to others. I'll be sure to share my adventures here, as well.
For now, I wish for you sweet dreams and a good night's sleep. Please feel free to share your sleep experiences in the comments.