I can’t sleep.
Claire, my business partner, can’t sleep.
I’m waiting for the time when we call each other at 3 in the morning for a chat. You see, our beloved business has taken on a new direction and new energy and we’re just way too excited to sleep. Whirling minds, a rather large to-do list and a brand new clinic are keeping us awake in the small hours and creating lovely bags under our eyes. Always a good look for a pair of health professionals.
When sleep problems and insomnia symptoms present in the clinic, I consider a number of different sources (new wallpaper in the waiting room isn’t always to blame).
In Chinese Five Element Theory, waking in the night at a certain time can indicate a meridian imbalance with an organ or an emotion that is difficult to deal with.
11-1am – Liver – the emotion is anger
1-3am – Gall Bladder – the emotion is resentment
3-5am – Lungs – the emotion is grief
5-7am – Bowels – the emotion is not letting go
From my experience, if someone has experienced a bereavement, they will often wake in the night between 3-5am. The subconscious brain processes during sleep and if there is an emotion or experience that is very difficult for the brain to deal with, this can lead to insomnia.
Stress and over-worrying are common causes of sleep deprivation. To support the body nutritionally, I recommend a B vitamin complex (supports the endocrine and nervous system) as well as Niacin (vitamin B3), which has been found to settle worried minds. Avoiding caffeine and drinking plenty of water certainly helps.
The Bach Flower Essences which are good for stress include Elm, for that overwhelmed feeling and White chestnut, for circling thoughts. A simple technique that can be used at home – place the palm of the hand on the forehead and deep breathe into the belly. This helps calm the mind and is a simple trick for getting back to sleep.
A big contributing factor of sleep problems is technology overload. Many people can’t sleep because they are on laptops, iPhones or watching TV straight before they go to bed. This plays havoc with the nervous system and I recommend having at least an hour of no technology before sleeping. Read a book, take a bath or just sit and do nothing, which will help prepare the brain for sleep.
Sleeping is triggered by the hormone melatonin and is created by the pineal gland in the brain. The pineal is a rather sensitive nubbin, especially with light. Alarm clocks, stereos or TVs with lights can cause disturb the pineal gland - so for a really good night’s sleep, make sure everything in your room is pitch black and have no lights showing.
For Claire and I, we are just going to ride this insomnia wave for the time being and up our B vitamin intake. I, for one, don’t mind this ridiculously excited feeling that’s keeping me awake. And anyway, some of my best inspiration arrives in the dead of night and, I tell you, it’s well worth the yawning and blurry eyes in the morning.
Laura Knowles is a Nutritionist, Kinesiologist, and Yoga Teacher at the Balanced Wellness Clinic in Havant near Portsmouth. Loves blogging about the really important stuff - life, love, vitamins and poo.See my profile »