This week’s guest post is from Chris Braithwaite who has been working as a homeopath since qualifying in 2006. Before this she was a childcare social worker / manager for nearly 20 years. Chris is registered with the Society of Homeopaths and is committed to providing high standards of patient care in her thriving practice. Her website is http://www.wighthomeopath.co.uk/
Chris says, “Recent research has shown that losing a mere ½ hour of sleep each night can affect our ability to concentrate, our intelligence and control of movement; causing mistakes in performance, increased moodiness and even the likelihood of obesity.
“The good news is that an increasing number of scientific studies are being published, demonstrating the effectiveness of Homeopathy in affecting sleep patterns. This means that there is a safe (non-toxic and non-addictive), natural and most important, effective alternative to prescription drugs or over the counter medications.”
Why can’t I sleep?
Sleep problems can take many different forms:
- finding it difficult to drop off to sleep.
- waking in the night and finding it hard to get back to sleep.
- waking in the early morning, brain buzzing with ideas and only falling asleep again just as the alarm goes off.
- fitful and unrefreshing sleep that leaves you feeling sluggish all day.
Chris’s Top tips for refreshing sleep
Most people need a minimum of 8 hours sleep per night to provide the opportunity for their physical and mental systems to rest, repair and renew themselves.
- Avoid caffeine (found not only in coffee, but also cola drinks, chocolate, tea etc) and other stimulants (including alcohol and sugary foods) at least throughout the evening.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime because the effort required to digest it will reduce the quality of your sleep.
- But also beware of going to bed hungry – some people find a warm drink e.g. milk particularly soothing.
- Make your bedroom a place to sleep – if you study, watch TV or play video games there, take a break before getting ready for bed to allow your brain chance to unwind.
- If pain keeps you awake, find natural remedies (e.g. to reduce inflammation) wherever possible to support your body’s attempts to heal and make sure your mattress, pillows etc are not making the problems worse.
- If you find your brain is buzzing with ideas, make a list of everything and keep a pad and pencil beside the bed in case you wake. This gives your brain permission to switch off rather than worrying about forgetting something.
- Make sure your body is warm (bed socks and a hot water bottle may not be exciting but are essential if your feet are like icebergs); but that your room is cool, quiet and as dark as possible. For the same reason, if you need to get up in the night for the loo, try to avoid putting the main light on.
- Establish a routine at night that encourages you to wind down: e.g. a bath is more relaxing than a shower; read a magazine or listen to soothing music. Go to bed and wake at the same time.
- Sleep aids include earplugs, lavender essential oil (a few drops sprinkled on your pillow or nightwear), visualisation and other relaxation exercises.
- If you find yourself getting agitated because you are unable to sleep, try counting your breaths and consciously slowing them down by “abdominal” breathing. Alternatively make yourself a deal to get up after 10 minutes and do a chore that you hate – this win-win can be enough to break the fretting!
- Avoid sleeping tablets that will only disguise the problem. Instead, where emotional upset is causing disturbed sleep, nightmares etc., seek professional assistance to identify and redress any unresolved issues.
How can homeopathy help?
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that uses remedies prepared to specified homeopathic methods to trigger the body’s own natural healing response. Just 1 dose of a well-indicated remedy is often enough to create a domino effect that boosts all levels of functioning. It is based on the idea of treating “like with like” – using substances that would produce symptoms in their raw state, but in a highly diluted form effectively cancel these symptoms out.
For example the “caffeine buzz” that prevents us sleeping might be treated with the homeopathic remedy Coffea made from raw coffee.
Rather than expecting that “one size fits all” however, homeopaths adopt an holistic approach. This means factoring in everything about the patient: their own and their family’s medical history; their temperament – likes and dislikes; relationships; responses to life events etc. So, each of the different forms of sleeplessness outlined above would indicate that patients are responding in their own unique ways and therefore, would need a remedy that reflects this totality of symptoms.
What about emotional issues such as stress?
I believe that stress is not caused by the event, but is our perception of / reaction to it and that therefore there are always options – different “takes” that help or hinder.
People who lose sleep may have very different triggers and emotional ‘profiles’. Homeopathy is about helping us to play to our strengths, and different remedies would be offered depending on how the client’s loss of sleep presents itself. Here are some of the many different stories that I hear.
One patient might be a high achiever, who works hard and plays hard. They’d typically kick start their day with coffee to give them the necessary edge to juggle deadlines, then unwind with alcohol over a heavy meal. This produces the classic 3-4am waking associated with their liver struggling to process the assault on their digestion – as well as their constant irritability!
Another patient might be caught up in “head chatter” caused by brooding and replaying events or anticipating future problems. They become exhausted by the effort required in suppressing their own rage out of a desire to be reasonable, or not behave badly in response to others’ bad behaviour.
Someone else may be drained of all energy and prone to periodic outbursts of resentment, but strangely better for letting off steam through intense sport, dancing or other high-octane activities. Yet another may be beset by helplessness leading to bleak despair.
Sometimes patients need help to endure the unendurable, for example, a remedy that encourages resilience during hearings / tribunals, which can be particularly stressful whether you are complainant or complained-against. Others may be losing sleep because of bereavement and loss or unresolved grief.
Each patient is unique, and homeopaths work with the whole patient.
More than one answer
So if you’ve reached a low point, please don’t think that anti-depressants are the only solution; but equally be aware that they may have a place alongside “talking” therapies to ensure your continuing safety in the short-term. Consult closely with your GP to ensure that any medication is used as a stop-gap, to allow changes to be implemented that redress the underlying symptoms.