Sleepless in the City

It’s funny how little things can throw us off course. Our body gets so used to its rhythms and patterns that any changes to our daily routine can have a big impact. I really noticed the phenomenon after the clocks went back at the weekend. Just the difference of an hour can affect how we sleep, and our feelings about ourselves as a result.

Sleep problems are increasingly common, thanks to the hectic pace of life today, and the 24/7 culture that expects us to be available whenever, wherever.  There are some sleep problems that are largely unavoidable, such as the fatigue associated with parenting babies and small children, nighttime shift work and international travel. But many people still struggle to drop off and sleep soundly, even without intervening factors.

It was problems with sleeping that led me to discover Autogenic Training (AT) in 2004. Despite the severity of my insomnia, it disappeared in a few short weeks as I learned how to take my body and mind into a deeply relaxed state. About a year later I began to experience sleeping difficulties again, and was worried that I had relapsed, or that the AT had somehow ‘worn off’.

However, I was reassured to discover that it was just another layer of my development, and that I had several more to go in order to help my body and mind to truly heal. A few things I learned from that experience were:

–       It takes time to develop a condition, and will take some time (but not as long) to heal it. There is no quick fix, whatever we might like to believe.

–       It can help to befriend your condition, rather than view it as an enemy. This will help you to understand what it needs.

–       Things might temporarily get worse before they get better, as if to remind you of your problem’s existence before you can let it go.

–       Your condition might flare up again from time to time, but less severely and for shorter periods. This is all part of the healing process.

One of my clients had suffered from insomnia for 50 years, but after five weeks of AT training could sleep for five hours instead of the usual two to three.

Another client admits that he does his best business brainstorming when he’s not able to sleep. He actually enjoys these creative times. I’ve observed this with other people too – we may experience a condition for years and wish to change it, but on another level we’re kind of attached to it. We actually need to go through a grieving process and say goodbye to the nights when we enjoyed the silence and mystery of the darkness.

You may also find you buy into the ‘romance’ of insomnia, or the competitive sleeplessness that pervades our society. People often boast about working into the small hours and still hitting the gym at 6am. Margaret Thatcher was well known not only for surviving but thriving on four hours’ sleep a night. It’s important if you do hold some positive’ associations with insomnia, that you let them go so you can truly relax.
Sleeplessness should not become a lifestyle.

I found that avoiding coffee after 5pm, having a light dinner, a hot bath and using lavender essential oils helped. I also benefited significantly from a series of shiatsu treatments.

However you choose to treat your condition, it’s important to regularly recharge your battery. I’ve written about the importance of ‘me time’ in a previous post , and that you enjoy what you are doing. Autogenic Training (AT) has been proven to help with insomnia. If you would like to come for a trial session, please get in touch. Anyone can learn AT.  It’s simple, you can practise it anywhere, and the results can be life-changing. You’ve nothing to lose but your insomnia.

Sleep tight!

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