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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 267

Thoughts: I have been meeting more and more people who have told me they have difficulties sleeping, and cannot sleep at all.

Some say they ‘have’ insomnia; except it is impossible to ‘have’ something. Close your eyes and that's what you have. Doctors may diagnose you with it, yet you are a being who is pure energy, vibrating at different frequencies and perhaps ‘being’ insomniatic at this time; the inability to obtain sufficient sleep, especially when chronic; difficulty in falling or staying asleep; sleeplessness.

I wondered if this way of being has been present in human beings since the beginning or if it is a new ‘thing’ created by our now fast paced world and pharmaceutical companies to add to their list of ‘diseases and faults’ to keep their multibillion dollar industry alive.

The scientific physical explanation for not being able to sleep is that melatonin normally regulates your body’s perception of “night” and “day” and stimulates sleep when night falls. In people suffering from insomnia often they do not produce enough of this compound. Stress and a hectic lifestyle can also cause lower levels of melatonin.

Regardless of what you want to label it, this ‘thing’ exists and people have difficulties sleeping – and alot of people! The National Sleep Foundation's 2002 Sleep in America poll showed that 58% of adults in the U.S. experienced symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week or more.

So what are the cures?

Nothing made in a lab, transported to a factory, processed and packed in plastic as pill forms that's for sure. Reaching for a sleeping pill in order to get a good night's sleep is pointless, although doctors readily prescribe them; it’s their job to. Aside from the potentially addictive nature of prescription drugs, many of the side effects can be worse than the actual sleep deprivation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has had data for 15 years which shows that over-the-counter sleep products such as Tylenol PM and Excedrin PM don't offer any significant benefit to patients.

It is currently unclear why the FDA took 15 years to evaluate the data.

According to CBC News: “An analysis of the data suggests the combination products are statistically better than a placebo but not by much.” Read the full article here.

The body follows the mind; de-clutter and slow down the constant chit chattering in the mind and we can decrease our need for sleep, and our body relaxes. Easier said than done.

All conditioned things are impermanent, and therefore any sleeping difficulties you are having are your life right now, they are not permanent and not forever – so don’t beat yourself up!

The life of an insomniac is usually:
-Tension, anxiety, stress; The most common cause of sleeplessness is mental tension brought about by anxiety, worries, overwork, and overexcitement.

-Suppressed Resentment, anger, bitterness; Suppressed feelings of resentment, anger, and bitterness may also cause insomnia.

-Constipation, overeating, excessive tea/coffee/smoking; Constipation, dyspepsia, overeating at night, excessive intake of tea or coffee, smoking, and going to bed hungry are among the other causes. Often, worrying about falling asleep is enough to keep one awake.

Here are some natural alternatives for sleeping cures: Remember that you have intuitively known how to sleep since your birth. It is still available to you now.

-Put your work away at least one hour (but preferably two or more) before bed. This will give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow.

-Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make people drowsy, the effect is short lived and people will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing. Alcohol is often used as a form of self-treatment of insomnia to induce sleep. However, alcohol use to induce sleep can be a cause of insomnia. Long-term use of alcohol is associated with a decrease in NREM stage 3 and 4 sleep as well as suppression of REM sleep and REM sleep fragmentation.

-Lose weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of sleep apnea, which will prevent a restful nights sleep.

-Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into the liver which then secondarily back up into your entire system and cause further disruption of your health. Prior to the widespread use of electricity, people would go to bed shortly after sundown, as most animals do, and which nature intended for humans as well.

-Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and seratonin, and may have other negative effects as well. You can purchase a gauss meter to measure EMFs try Cutcat by googling, and any other country google it too. They have a model for around $40. One doctor even recommends that people pull their circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in the house (Dr. Herbert Ross, author of "Sleep Disorders").

-Keep alarm clocks and other electrical devices as far away from the bed as possible, preferably at least 3 feet to reduce the elctro chaos in your environment.

-Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possible. Many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter have effects on sleep.

-Epsom salts; take a hot bath with epsom salts before bed. Epsom salt is a combination of magnesium and sulfates. Athletes soak in baths to relieve stress and pain from their muscles. It also draws out toxins from the body and puts you in a relaxed and sedative state! I love them :)

Foods and Herbs as a medicine:

-Honey; Honey is beneficial in the treatment of insomnia. It has a hypnotic action and induces a sound sleep. It should be taken with water, before going to bed, in doses of two teaspoons in a large cup of water. Babies generally fall asleep after taking honey.

-Rauwolfia; The herb rauwolfia is a valuable medicine for insomnia because of its indisputable efficacy as a sedative. The hypnotic action of the drug appears to have been known since ancient times. The very first dose of rauwolfia will enable a patient with a phlegmatic and gouty nature to go to sleep. The powder of the root in a quantity of 0.25 gm to 0.5 gm should be mixed with some scented substance like cardamom and given to the patient The patient will have a sound sleep during the entire night. If the disease is chronic, the patient should take O.25 gm twice a day, in the morning as well as at night before retiring.

-Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin.

-Also eat a small piece of fruit. This can help the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier.

-Eat foods high in calcium and magnesium; beans, broccoli, brazil nuts, peanuts, spinach, almonds.

-Cannabis; Boil the stem of the cannabis plant and drink the water or sit your bathroom filled with steam from a boiling bath of cannabis leaves. You can even rub it on the limbs. Like many people before and since, the Buddha recognized the medicinal value of cannabis and he recommended it as a cure for rheumatism.

-Valerian; Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), a native plant in North America and South Europe, is one of the popular natural sleep aids

-Kava; Kava root (Piper methysticum), a best herb for anxiety, is approved by Germanys Commission E for conditions of stress, anxiety-related insomnia, and restlessness. One of the root most useful qualities is its ability to calm the mind without affecting productivity or concentration levels, making it as helpful in the workplace as in the home.

-Lemon Balm; Lemon balm leaf (Melissa officinalis), often called Melissa sleep aid, is approved by Germanys Commission E as a sedative for insomnia cures and as a stomach soother before bedtime.

-Passion Flower; Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is another example of a non prescription sleep aid that has traditionally been reported to induce sleep by its simple calming or quieting influence, and not by any narcotic affect. This natural sleep aid has been approved by the European Scientific Co-Operative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) for "tenseness, restlessness and irritability with difficulty in falling asleep". It is also used as a sedative in nervous disorders, difficulties in sleeping, and anxiety or restlessness, nervousness and insomnia.

-Hops; Hops (Humulus lupulus) is approved by Germanys Commission E as a sedative to relieve insomnia. It's considered as one of the better herbs for relaxation. The hop bitter acids are antibacterial and antimycotic. They stimulate the secretion of gastric juices. a strong spasmolytic effect on the smooth muscle of the intestinal tract has been reported.

-Chamomile; Chamomile is one of nature's oldest herbal sleep aids. In addition to promoting calm and restfulness, chamomile is also used in cases of stomach irritation. Chamomile is a non addictive alternative sleep medicine and has no side effects. A US Pharmacist's report theorized that apigenin, an active flavonoid in chamomile, may help to promote a good rest and sleep.

A holistic and natural approach for healing:
Homeopathic treatments are based on naturally occurring plant, animal or mineral substances in dilute quantities. They usually come in small pill or concentrated liquid form, with measurements indicating the dilution of the primary ingredient. Larger numbers mean more dilution, but homeopathy practitioners say that small doses of remedies are more effective than larger ones. Some homeopathic remedies are coffee cruda (unroasted coffee) for nervous excitement, ignatia for those unable to sleep deeply, arsenicum album for a person suffering from anxiety and restlessness, and nux vomica to keep nightmares at bay and to promote quiet sleep.

-Oils; perennial Anthemis nobilis, rose, lavender, passion flower and lemon balm. These oils can be burned or added to a warm bath.

The Buddha and Insomnia
The Buddha observed that our behaviour while awake can sometimes have an effect during sleep. Being immoral or cruel for example, can cause insomnia or restless sleep. 'When the fool is on his couch or bed or lying on the ground the evil actions he has done in the past descend on him, settle on him, lie on him, just as the shadow of a mountain in the late afternoon descends, settles and lies on the earth. At that time the fool thinks, I have not done what is beautiful or skilful. I have not protected myself against the fearful... Then he is uneasy and troubled, he weeps and despairs'. Likewise, a person who has a loving disposition 'sleeps happily, wakes happily and has no bad dreams'

Why sleep?
We intuitively knew as a child that we need to sleep. Sleeping allows us to rejuvenate.

Sleep is a natural state characterized by reduced bodily movement, limited reaction to external stimuli and loss of consciousness. It has been estimated that the average person spends about a third of their life sleeping. The biological function of sleep seems to be to rejuvenate the body and the mind by giving it complete rest. However, sleeping beyond the required amount, insufficient or irregular sleep can seriously effect one's physical and psychological well-being, a fact that the Buddha was fully aware of. He told his lay disciples that sleeping after daybreak and being up all night would have a negative impact on their lives (D.III,185). He also realized that because monks and nuns do not have to work and have ample free time that they can all too easily slip into the habit of sleeping rather than meditating or studying. Hence his frequent reminder to them that they should not be ‘fond of sleeping'. He said: ‘When one is lazy, gluttonous, snoozing and lolling on the bed like a great fat pig, he will be reborn again and again'. Not all people need the same amount. Sleep deprivation results in fatigue, irritability, paranoia.
Pharmaceutical drugs do no healing. How could they with such ingredients? Prescribed medicine makes us reliant on pills and doctors while ballooning Big Pharma profits. Any product that claims to cure sleep disorders, and does not come directly from the earth; if it has been touched and processed by human hands, be weary.

Medicine is a substance applied or ingested to cure sickness. Ancient Indian pharmacology was based on the idea that medicines could be categorized according to their taste, their post-digestive effect, their potency and their specific action. Medicines hundreds of years ago were tallow, roots, astringents concoctions, leaves, fruits, resins, salts and ointments. Now they are pills and liquids made from ingredients developed in a lab that we cannot pronounce.

Challenges: A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow. ~Charlotte BrontëI

Triumphs: All conditioned things are impermanent, strive on with awareness - Buddha

What I Ate Today:

Food fest 1: A avocado.

Food fest 2: A sweet nectarine.

Food fest 3: Roasted Sweet Potato Salad. Created from Sweet Potato, Capsicum, Onion, Mustard seeds, Honey, Avocado, Lemon Juice.

Food fest 4: Another sweet nectarine.

Food fest 5: Raw Lasagne! Yes it is possible and it was delicious! Created from nuts, herbs, tomatoes, spinach ... mmm!

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato Salad and Raw Lasagne are available on The Earth Diet website

Exercise: A Zumba class at Big Al's Family Fitness!!! Zumba is mixture of various dance styles and techniques and I LOVE it! By the end I am dripping in sweat, my body is loose and warm having moved jived and jiggled in all different ways hehe ;)

98 days to go!!!

This blog thanks to Brian Bamberger and Elton Collier.


Recipe inspired by:

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