Maybe you sat down to read this post with these questions in your mind – “Why is my health not better?” or “What can I do to get my health back?” or, “Is it even possible for me to have better health even though I […]
You know what’s wrong with your health…or maybe you don’t. In fact, not only do you know what’s wrong but you are just plain tired of feeling powerless and exhausted. You have been to your family doctor, have had your blood work drawn, or maybe […]
The number of people I talk to who have issues with sleep is astounding. Maybe your issue is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, frequent waking, non-restorative sleep, nightmares/night terrors, overheating, night sweats, or just not falling asleep at all. Whatever it may be – there is a solution – and that solution is probably multi-faceted but it can also be natural and effective!
I never had sleep issues until this past January and when I got them they hit me like a brick wall. It wasn’t pretty. I soon developed anxiety from my lack of sleep and then got more anxious as I worried each night if I would sleep that night. It was a vicious cycle and I was an emotional wreck. I figured that since I’m a health provider I would try to figure it out on my own – from trying different homeopathic remedies to practicing good sleep hygiene, eating well and even quitting my jobs! I eventually realized that I needed outside help and went to the doctor where I was given a few sleeping pills (and a strong warning that I did NOT want to get addicted to these little pills and should probably look at managing my life/job/stress better). However, to my complete frustration (and building anxiety) the sleeping pills didn’t work.
Something had to change…and fast! I did not want to remain in a state of constant anxiety with my heart pounding in my chest nor did I want to spend the rest of my nights sleepless. I booked an appointment with my homeopath, a reflexologist and booked a vacation.
The first night I took my homeopathic remedy I slept for 6 hours. AMAZING! And each night after that it got a bit better. The reflexology appointment improved my ability to fall sleep in less than 4 hours and I was over the moon.
I am now 6 months past the completely sleepless nights. I am still doing some healing but I am a lot more aware of my body’s needs. I fall asleep soon after I go to bed and I don’t lie awake most of the night. I have set boundaries for how late I can be out at night and start settling down for sleep around 9 pm because otherwise I have issues falling asleep. I don’t wish to experience that ever again and my compassion for those struggling with sleep issues has grown exponentially.
Stepping out of a season where sleep was elusive and my life was in upheaval I have developed a newfound appreciation for sleep, how much life is impacted by a lack of sleep and how totally life-changing insomnia is for the sufferer and their loved ones. I learned a lot about sleep and how to improve sleep in natural ways. I learned how ignoring my own boundaries and emotional and physical needs were major contributors to my sleep issues.
Oftentimes stresses in our lives are too much and we have ignored our emotional, mental and physical boundaries and sleep issues are the one way in which your body can get your attention. It may possibly be that you have poor sleep hygiene or eat a poor diet. Whatever your issue is, when sleep becomes an issue, I can guarantee that your entire life needs to be looked at and changes will most likely need to be made in a variety of areas including your diet, sleep practices/hygiene, stress management, personal boundaries and overall lifestyle.
That being said, here are a few tips I learned in the process of healing myself and managing my sleep cycle.
- Start paying attention. The most helpful thing you can do when you start dealing with sleep issues is to stop and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Oftentimes we push ourselves until the point of no return, when our bodies are no longer able to adapt to the level of stress we place on them, whether it be physically, emotionally or mentally. The greatest gift you can give yourself is space/time to listen to what your body’s needs are.
- Start talking. I don’t know about you, but I feel the need to be the, “I’ve got it all under control” person. I bottle up my emotions because I’m afraid of looking weak and instead l ignore how I feel. When you deal with insomnia you may find that not only are you feeling more anxious or depressed but these feelings can be compounded by the stresses and emotions you had previously ignored. Find someone you can trust and start talking to someone daily about everything and anything. Life is meant to be lived and emotions meant to be expressed. Even if you feel silly sharing initially, you will find that just verbalizing your thoughts (as inane as they may be!) will actually reduce your anxiety and stress creating space for your body to move back into normal rhythm.
- Start practicing good sleep hygiene. Most of us are guilty of using our phones in bed or watching t.v. in the bedroom. You need to stop! Your room should be a place for sleep and not equated with work or entertainment as your mind will have trouble shutting down in that space. Other sleep hygiene ideas: lower the room temperature, make sure your room is dark, and try to get it to be a place of quiet.
- See your doctor. Yup, coming from a natural health professional this may seem contradictory, but a medical doctor is a great ally in your battle with sleep issues. I am not recommending that you jump on the “take a sleeping pill train,” but I am suggesting that you may need to get blood work taken to find out if there are other health issues occurring, you may need to get a note for some time off work, you may need a referral to another health professional or you may need medication to get you through the beginning stages of healing yourself. Obviously, I would recommend trying something natural (think counselling, sleep hygiene, visiting a natural health professional) before jumping onto any sleeping medication.
- Visit a holistic health professional. A natural and holistic approach to sleep issues is a must. No one wants to spend the rest of their days taking sleeping pills or fighting insomnia. I chose to work with a homeopath because I wasn’t looking to just treat my sleep issues but also get at and treat the root issues that were contributing to my insomnia. I didn’t want a band-aid solution but a holistic and natural approach that took into consideration everything from my mental/emotional state and physical symptoms.
- Use other modalities as needed. There are a wide variety of effective and natural treatments for sleep. Modalities such as reflexology, PEMF, taking supplements or herbs, massage, and acupuncture are just a few different options that can help with stress management, relaxation and improving sleep quality. Don’t hesitate to ask the treatment provider how the service they are providing will help with your concerns.
- Love yourself. We are way to hard on ourselves. We expect that overnight all should resolve itself. But when you are dealing with issues like sleep, you are looking at something that is going to take time to resolve! By putting pressure on yourself to fix the problem quickly you do a disservice to yourself by not allowing your body the time or space it might need to heal itself. It probably was several months (if not years!) of stresses and/or poor eating and lifestyle habits that contributed to your current situation. Therefore it’ll probably take a few months or longer to resolve itself. But it can resolve! Be patient with yourself.
When I began the journey to regulating my sleep (and managing the other symptoms I was dealing with as a part of my lack of sleep) I had to make major changes to my life. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I had people tell me it was possible. I’m here to tell you it is possible for you too! You are not alone!
Yesterday I began my 30 day vegan kick. I’m not eating dairy or eggs or meat. I’m focusing on eating whole grains, fresh fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds and legumes. I’ve cut out coffee and am trying to avoid sugar in any form. I’m trying to reduce […]
Have you recently walked into a health food store (or even Shopper’s Drug Mart) and come across the expensive beverage called kombucha? Maybe you are wondering what all the fuss is about this drink? I mean, who spends $8-9 on a 750ml bottle (unless it’s […]
Have you ever heard of homeopathy? Maybe you have heard of it but you don’t have any idea what it is. Or maybe you wonder if it’s the same thing as naturopathy? Or maybe it brings to mind words like: placebo, sugar pellets, bogus medicine or witchcraft. These are but a few of the responses when I get questions about what I do. And honestly, it doesn’t help that the media, most health care professionals and even alternative health care professionals don’t know what this medicine is or how it works.
I never thought that I would end up in a field as controversial as homeopathy – especially after studying and practicing in a well-established profession (nursing)…but I did. And I am happy about it! Why? Because it works! To me, nothing sells like success! And I like to see people get better!
I’d like to address 5 MISCONCEPTIONS about homeopathy today. There is way to much to tell you about homeopathy in one article – you’ll just have to wait for my future ones!
- Homeopathic medicines are not safe. Homeopathic remedies are very safe medicines! In fact, I cannot think of anything safer – because the ingredients in the remedy are so diluted it is actually impossible for it to harm anyone. You would have to take A LOT of a single remedy (think bottles and bottles and bottles…) to even come to a place where you could even get a noticeable amount of the substance. Pharmaceutical drugs are much more potent and unsafe. In fact, adverse drug effects and deaths from pharmaceutical drugs are in the tens of thousands each year.
- Homeopathy is not evidenced based. I’m sorry…but this is clearly an unfair statement. Health outcomes after using homeopathic medicines appropriately are incredible (when accurately prescribed by a homeopath in the right potency)! To me, evidenced-based medicine is medicine that actually brings about results – I have seen blood levels change, skin diseases clear up, test results change from abnormal to normal and much more! There have been MANY studies that have shown positive health outcomes after using homeopathy. One place where you see very positive health outcomes (especially when compared to mainstream medicine) is in epidemics.* If we are talking about evidenced-based medicine with regards to scientific evidence about how homeopathy works at a scientific level that is another question.
- Homeopathy is placebo effect. Truth be told, placebo effects are present in every form of medicine, both mainstream and alternative. The way homeopathy works at a scientific level is still under some debate – but my belief about this incredibly powerful alternative is that I have never seen “placebos” work so well. When homeopathy is prescribed properly the results are incomparable to any other form of medicine I have ever seen. Just ask someone who has actually used homeopathy! I’d also like to point out that homeopathy has effects on babies and children and it actually affects them – and they would not know about placebo effect!
- Homeopathy is witchcraft. To me this just verifies that fact that this is a very misunderstood medicine. Homeopathy is not a religious idea or voodoo. It is a medicine that is over 200 years old in practice, developed by a highly educated doctor, who had an incredibly advanced understanding of medicines and the effects on the body and diseases that was way ahead of his time (Dr. Hahnemann).
- Homeopathy does not work. Homeopathy is a very difficult medicine to practice because it is an individualized medicine. What does that mean? Well, let me put it this way…if you do not get the right remedy, in the right potency and are not willing to wait for it to work…it won’t work! Every person requires a different remedy – unlike in mainstream medicine where migraines or sciatica or arthritis are treated with a limited number of specific drugs. Homeopathy requires a good understanding of a variety of personal variables (example: when do you experience your pain, what makes it better or worse, etc.) to select an appropriate remedy so that you get results! When you get the right remedy for the right person – the results can be beyond amazing! Again, talk to the thousands of individuals who have experienced the power and healing effects of homeopathy!
Honestly, I haven’t even begun to tap the surface of homeopathy, how it works, what it can do or why I love this medicine! I won’t deny it is a difficult thing to wrap your head around…but my world completely changed when I decided to allow homeopathy to speak for itself. Sometimes things in life don’t make sense or can’t easily be explained! That does not make them unworthy of consideration or use. Just take the time to look at how homeopathy has effected thousands of people over the last 200+ years!
If you are interested in reading more about homeopathy you can find some more info here or feel free to contact me:
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is all the rage as a fat-burning, blood-sugar lowering, cancer-fighting, inflammation-reducing home remedy. Plus it is cheap, easily accessible and simple to take. Personally, I think the stuff tastes nasty, despite all the recommendations to sweeten with honey, or add cinnamon, […]
How many of you are familiar with the need to have something now? Maybe it’s fulfilling that craving for your favourite donut or your wish to loose 10 pounds NOW. Do you often wish you could be fit now, eat healthy now, get clear skin now, be overall healthier today – without all the work? Probably! Unfortunately, those things take time and effort…and consistent time and effort.
Unfortunately, our culture has created an expectation that immediacy or getting what you want NOW is good. And not only is it good but it is possible! We have created a culture that is intimate with immediacy and not with hard work, discipline or long-term commitment. When applied to health and fitness however, immediacy is not only unrealistic, but it is also impossible. The thing is, health and fitness is a long-term investment with a long-term payoff.
That being said, I don’t want you to feel discouraged. There are some ideas that will produce results NOW from choices you make today with the added benefit of long-term health and wellness. I believe with these 5 simple lifestyle changes you can choose health now with the expectation of immediate results and longer-term rewards!
- Get off the couch! Being active not only reduces your risk of many diseases and health problems in the long-term but it will improve your mood, flexibility, and energy today! Aim to be active (walking is fine!) for a minimum of 20 minutes every day.
- Reduce your sugar intake. I’m sure that you have heard enough about how bad sugar is for you. Cutting sugar completely out of your diet is difficult and has an abundance of long-term rewards. But my challenge to you is to start reducing your sugar intake (e.g. instead of 2 cookies have 1; or reduce sugar in your tea/coffee by a teaspoon; have 1 glass of wine instead of 2). Another option is to choose healthier sweetening options like dates, figs, coconut sugar, or raw unpasteurized honey (and no, that does not mean you can have more because it is still sugar!). Reducing sugar reduces inflammation and can increase your focus, energy and concentration because you are less like to have those blood sugar lows.
- Drink more water. Most of us are deficient in water. Since our bodies are largely made up of water this has a MASSIVE impact on your focus, concentration, flexibility and joint health. Make sure you are replacing each cup of coffee or alcohol you have with at least an equal amount of water and if you are exercising remember you also need more to replace what you sweat out. To make water a bit more interesting try adding in some lemon or lime juice! Besides replacing those things aim for 8 glasses (of 8oz.) a day.
- Change the way you think about food. Positive thinking actually works! Instead of telling yourself I shouldn’t or can’t eat that start telling yourself that you are able to choose this (healthy) thing instead. When you tell yourself that you are can have that thing but are choosing something different you will find yourself less likely to crave that something later – I mean, who doesn’t find themselves wanting that thing you are saying no to! When you think differently about food you would be surprised how quickly you can say no to unhealthy options or that extra serving and actually empower yourself!
- Laugh more. Laughter has been shown to improve mood, increase oxygen to your brain, reduce stress, boost immunity and more! Obviously laughter makes you feel good immediately – and because it reduces stress and boosts your immune system the benefits just keep on going! Hit up a comedy show, watch a funny movie, or hang out with friends who make you laugh. Check out some more benefits of laughter here: http://www.idoinspire.com/blog/bid/42141/Wellness-Benefits-of-Laughter-Physical-Mental-Social
It’s time to rewire the way you think about your health and body and choose to be intimate with long-term reward, discipline and hard work. I’m not saying this will be easy…but it will be worth it! Try adding these 5 things into your daily life and you will be surprised at the benefit you receive today.
For more info:
Psychology of food and eating: http://psychologyofeating.com/mind-over-food/ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cravings/200906/change-your-food-attitude