Natural and Alternative Sleep Therapies

These last two weeks have been so #hard. I feel so disconnected in a way that you can only feel when you have #chronicfatigue and #insomnia. Once my bed was my #haven but now it is my tomb. I go to bed at 9 feeling positive that this time sleep will come. But at #midnight I'm still #haunted. My #meditation recordings calm me yet set my mind racing. I #pray and make lists, recite poetry, #read, listen to #classicalmusic. Even #sleepingpills have no effect. I stopped drinking #tea and #coffee avoid TV or phones after 8. I rub #lavender on my face, eucalyptus and mint under my nose, Vicks on my chest. There is #pain of course,#chronicpain. But that isn't as bad as normal. I'm ahead in my assignments and readings at #University. I just want sleep. #rest #relax #insomnia #nosleep #lethargy #fatigue #autoimmune #chronicillness #Invisibleillness #Lupus #SystemicLupusErythematosus #Arthritis #vasculitis #spoonie

A photo posted by Jessie Frost (@thislupuslife) on

Sleep for a person living with a chronic illness is the only true form of relief. Life can have such burdens as you cannot imagine or describe to someone who does not understand. The hardest part of chronic illness can often be the fact that any other time and to any other person these issues may not appear to even be issues. Yet a drop of water is not an issue until you hear one every three seconds without fail endlessly.

The inability to sleep is one of the most common symptoms of all chronic illnesses for whatever reason. The treatments for which can, of course, vary, yet the most common identifier for ‘effectively overcoming’ sleeping troubles or general rest interference, are sleeping pills. If you are at present overwhelmingly awash with medications, or for whatever reason are trying to sleep without the use of sleeping medications, drugs or pills the the below options may be available for you.


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Herbal Teas

Chamomile

Well, this is the obvious go-to. I don’t always like the taste to be honest. I will say that because I don’t like the slight bitterness it has to it. It is subtle though, so that’s okay. It works for insomnia because it has a mild sedative in the natural existing chemicals bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B, and matricin, as well as apigenin. You drink mostly the flower, the most common of which come from Germany. It is very fragrant, so smells good as it brews, but is a delicate tea and shouldn’t be brewed too long or too hot. It is also an anti-inflammatory.

 

Lavender

Lavender is native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean  oil in lavender’s small, blue violet flowers gives the herb its fragrant scent. University of Miami studies have shown that it is known to slow down heart rate, slow blood pressure and put you in a parasympathetic state, which is a relaxed state. I cannot find exact chemicals are related to this relaxing phenomena, and in fact the studies that have confirmed the results aren’t conclusive and it may be the routine and process prior to going to sleep may be the effective part of the inclusion of lavender for sleep assistance and insomnia. What I can tell you is that the answer most likely lays in the magic word  Lamiaceae.

 

Lamiacea

The mint family of flowering shrubs, many of these are edible and fragrant, very beneficial in cooking, healing and insomnia. Here we have mint, of course, as well as rosemary, lavender, marjoram, savory, basil, thyme, hyssop, oregano, catnip and sage.  Like the other teas I have recommended so far, these are caffeine-free. They relieve heart burn and calm muscles, according to university studies, which means they have a relaxing effect on the body and reasons that prevent sleep.

 

St. John’s Wort

This is identified as a natural anti-depressant for its soothing effect on neurostimulators. It reduces anxiety and calms nerves, which is why it is also considered to be an appropriate treatment for insomnia.

 

AVOID

Cinnamon and Nutmeg

These two spices are wonderful. They taste great, smell fantastic and seem to go so well with so many after-dinner treats. Yet they have been known to cause hallucinogenic reactions in some people. It may be a homeopathic theory, it may not have university studies to back this up. But it does have the benefit of a lot of general consensus and common agreeance in the matter. Many people have commented on having vivid and interrupted sleeping patterns, as well as general sleep inabilities following drinking or eating cinnamon and nutmeg. This can be from even 8 hours prior to going to bed, so be aware of this fact. The chai teas and lattes that are now so popular are made of both of these spices, so think of this if you have been replacing your nightly tea with chai’s.

 

Chili, Vasodilators and Metabolisers

I know it seems like common sense, but think about the impact on your circulatory and metabolic systems when you dilate cells, vessels and increase your metabolic rate. Your body will be working harder and faster, your mind will be processing more. Anything that ‘gets your body going’ is also going to be interrupting the calmness needed for sleep.


N.B. Remember these are the ones I have tried. I have undoubtedly missed some, and there are some great blends of a few available. When you are looking try to avoid some of the big mass-producing companies. They may make great flavoured teas, but they may also be using sugars to enhance the flavours, which could work against what you want. If you are unsure about the ingredients then do some research to see if they are metabolisers, vasodilators, include sugar or contain caffeine.

For more information go to: No sleepless nights

Aromatherapy is an interesting topic. I have always felt a strong belief in the healing properties of essential oils, even if it just the soothing effects of smelling natural aromas. Perhaps it is because my mother has involved them so strongly in every different type of illness treatment for better health. Now I am just programmed that way. Many people have a strong sense of smell and they all seem to use it differently. Whether it be to make decisions on people, overcome or avoid nausea or to help with cleaning.

What do you use scent for? How do you use it?

 

Biologically there are different levels of scent so allow me to clarify which I am referring to. I am not going to discuss pheromones, which are chemicals an animal produces which changes the behaviour of another animal of the same species (animals include insects). I am also not referring to the more superficial scents associated with bodily functions, such as sweat and breath, even though these can have great power over our ability to sleep, especially if it is in your immediate environment.

I want to talk about organic aromas that originate from flora and plant matter, not animal glands. This oil is generally distilled (most frequently by steam or water) from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant and is not always oily in feeling or to look at.

The best definition I have found about this is as written below, from the Natural Association of Holistic Aromatherapy:

The term “essential oil” is a contraction of the original “quintessential oil.” This stems from the Aristotelian idea that matter is composed of four elements, namely, fire, air, earth, and water. The fifth element, or quintessence, was then considered to be spirit or life force. Distillation and evaporation were thought to be processes of removing the spirit from the plant and this is also reflected in our language since the term “spirits” is used to describe distilled alcoholic beverages such as brandy, whiskey, and eau de vie. The last of these again shows reference to the concept of removing the life force from the plant. Nowadays, of course, we know that, far from being spirit, essential oils are physical in nature and composed of complex mixtures of chemicals.

-( Sell, Charles. (2010). Chapter 5: The Chemistry of Essential Oils. (Can Baser K H, and Buchbauer G. Editors) in the book Handbook of essential oils: science, technology, and applications, (pp. 121-150). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.)

So you see, the idea of the healing properties of these natural remedies is in no way a new concept, trailing all the way back to Aristotle.

Knowing that these oils may work and simply looking on a shelf to find the right one for your illness or health will not necessarily help you. In fact, only some can be used in the ways you may prefer, and many vary greatly in price or availability. This means that while essential oils appear easy or basic in comparison to using drugs or medications to work your way through an issue they may not actually be the healthiest or safest method.

I am not a naturopath, aromatherapist or therapeutic specialist that can tell you anything too in-depth about these oils and their use as natural remedies. Having said that I can tell you some of the common natural oils attributed to aid in natural sleep assistance and whether or not my research found them to be safe and affordable. At the bottom I will also detail the methods of usage described for each essential that I use to benefit my health.


A great place to sit for an afternoon nap

A great place to sit for an afternoon nap

Hypnotherapy for sleep

What is hypnosis?

The induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction. Its use in therapy, typically to recover suppressed memories or to allow modification of behaviour, has been revived but is still controversial. – Google.com

Why hypnotherapy for sleep troubles?

[It is thought] most habits and behaviours are based on programming from our past; some of them can be a source of great emotional pain and conflict, stress, anxiety and depression…Hypnotherapy changes negative subconscious programming enabling us to achieve what our conscious desires, bringing about profound changes in our lives.

 Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy and Counselling.

My history with hypnotherapy

Perhaps you recall a memory I told of my childhood, an incidence of trauma. I struggled with sleep for a good many years in my childhood and teenage years. It invoked panic attacks, over-active imagination and many sleepless nights for my parents. Not to mention fear and embarrassment for me. It culminated with appointments with a hypnotherapist in Albany. My parents did not want me to take medication for such a severe and ongoing issue at that age. I thought seeing a hypnotherapist sounded cool. A great story for my boarding school friends at the very least.

It was an astounding surprise to me that I was cured to great effect by this treatment. A sleep in the late morning in a room with a polite and informative woman overcame many of the disturbances I had struggled with throughout my childhood. Without any further need for medical consultations, psychological appointments or drugs treatments.

The Dolores Cannon technique

When you don’t know something about something it is easy to generalise and make blanket assumptions. So I, of course thought there was only one type of hypnotherapy, or hypnosis. Even after I had been hypnotised I still was uneducated on this assumption. Granted you see a lot about novelty acts using hypnosis to entertain. But the act of placing people into a dream-like state and telling their mind to follow instructions on a subconscious level is not the only form of hypnotism.

Take Dolores Cannon and the theory of Past Life Regression. This technique is a concept which, yes you guessed it, leads a participant into their various past lives. The process of hypnotism also behaves on a different level of consciousness in which the participant is awake and active in the process.

Why the Dolores Cannon technique for hypnotherapy for sleep?

As mentioned above, I have been unwell for some time now. My Lupus, Vasculitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis has been active in many ways, shapes and forms for many years. It occurred to me that since I knew hypnotherapy was effective for me, I was confident in using hypnotherapy for sleep. I began to wonder that it may be interesting to in fact delve into my past lives, if this would be possible, and see if I could isolate why I had these health issues. If I could find a guide in my past or subconscious to lead me each night into sleep.

My experience

I met Roman after work one night. In a private room I sat down in a comfortable armchair and discussed my brief health situation and life circumstances with Roman. He asked me some personal questions to better understand how I think, how I have responded in particular events and what my current life situation stands as. I explained to him my reasons for wanting to try hypnotherapy for sleep and healing. He was insightful, genuine, polite and respectful. He used my information to determine an essential oil that I would respond to greatly, and explained the origin and what it means and is used to help with. That oil, for interests sake was Ocotea, but he also suggested Camphor and Frankincense. It was the first time I had smelled Ocotea, but I felt a resonance with it that was most calming.

I made myself comfortable in the chair and allowed my eyes to close as Roman took me on a journey. His voice was guiding yet not interfering and while I remained conscious throughout the experience there is little I can recall. This was only a recent event though, so don’t think I have forgotten out of lapsed time.

Do I think it worked?

Yes. I have been calmer since the experience. The experience of trying hypnotherapy for sleep has helped me in regulating my sleep patterns. I feel more relaxed when bedtime approaches, having less fear of the potential for not falling asleep as I get into bed.

Hypnotherapy gave me the strength to go to sleep. It took away my worries about restless nights and interrupted dreams.

In trying to use hypnotherapy for sleep issues I managed to also overcome my worries about the night and being alone. It is subtle but it is there and I no longer feel the need for sleeping pills.I would definitely recommend hypnotherapy for sleep disorders, as well as anxiety, depression, addiction and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness about chronic illness.


If you would like to know more about this therapist in particular please comment below, or contact me at jessie@thislupuslife.com.

There is also a collective called the Perth Hypnotherapy who can be contacted at this website.