I see many people who present with sleeping problems in my clinic in Sydney for hypnotherapy and naturopathic treatments. These problems may range from mild to chronic sleep disorders caused by physical, mental or social reasons.
When we look at sleeping patterns in different cultures we can see that sleep is a major tenet of healthy life.
Medically if you do not get enough sleep, your immune and neurological systems tend to become dysfunctional, leading to sickness, increased susceptibility to disease and infection, neurosis and mental illness.
Answer these questions:
- Do you think you get enough sleep?
- Is the environment where you sleep peaceful?
- Are other people disturbing your sleep?
- Could you say the quality of your sleep allows you to be refreshed?
- Is your sleep disturbed by stressful thoughts?
- Do you think you have a healthy dream life?
In hot Mediterranean climates people tend to sleep twice a day, once at night and a siesta at midday when it is hot. Their lives and businesses can be built around those sleeping patterns, which often appears to produce a more relaxed culture.
Looking back over historic records before the invention of the electric light, people frequently had two sleep periods during darkness with a period of wakefulness in-between. People had to focus on work mainly during daylight so needed to be strong to utilise that time available.
Since the industrial revolution and the use of electric light, however, sleep patterns in many cultures have changed, with people sleeping less and generally only at night. The emergence of shift work has also disturbed many people’s sleep patterns.
We have in general become over stimulated as a species, and this is reflected by the massive increase in stress-related diseases and mental illness.
What is observed in acute mental health wards is people suffering delusions and manic-related disorders spend less time in the deep sleep (Rapid Eye Movement – REM) cycle. This is the part of the sleep cycle where you dream and it seems to have great relevance to the quality of mental health.
If people are deprived of sleep for long periods, they also experience a breakdown in mental health but if they experience REM sleep they tend to regain their mental faculties.
So, there are two major factors that sleep affords us with, the first being its physical effects. During sleep the body rests and repairs at an increased rate and recharges. Also, we fast during sleep so it gives our digestion the time to catch up with the processing of food.
Secondly in a modern analytically-run society it is often forgotten how important dreaming is to promote our mental, physical and even spiritual (whatever that is for you) health.
When we dream we address unresolved issues that we have backed up in our unconscious mind. We assess where we are in life at the present time and the possible future that we may encounter.
Dreams are meant to be fantastical and outlandish because, of the thousands of possibilities available, our dreams help the mind’s ability to choose only the best of them to direct our lives in the future.
What is also interesting is that research has now shown a lack of good-quality sleep produces a higher level of mistakes in our waking lives and reduces our abilities to make good, rational decisions in in our personal lives and work situations.
Here are some tips to improve your sleep:
- Learn to make the place where you sleep a sanctuary
- Remember: constant medication-induced sleep does not allow enough REM dreaming
- Be aware that all the food, drink and drugs you put into your body affects its ability to sleep properly
- Organise your life around a good sleep schedule, not the other way around
- Make time to relax before sleep, which prepares you for a good sleep
- Treat your body with great care during the day to promote good sleep at night
Hypnotherapy is one of the most effective ways to treat insomnia and sleep problems. Indeed, in ancient Greek, the word ‘hypnos’ means ‘sleep’. What is also important, from a naturopathic perspective, is that we consider your physical state and make the necessary changes so that your body is ready for a good night’s sleep.
Do you need help with insomnia or sleep problems? I am a clinical hypnotherapist and naturopath who helps people to resolve their sleeping problems, fast, in my clinic in Sydney and sometimes by Skype.