Probably the most frequent question I get asked as a sleep coach is, “What do you do about middle of the night wake-ups?” Most of my clients are able to fall asleep easily, but then wake up sometime between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 in the morning and can’t get back to sleep. I wish I could say I had the magic cure-all for this problem and that it no longer happened to me anymore… but that would not quite be true. What is true for me is that I no longer experience panic, anxiety, anger or loneliness when this happens, and have even learned to embrace the peace and stillness of the night as a time to do deep inner work or creative writing. This not only means a more enjoyable night experience with a better chance of resuming sleep, but less exhaustion and a better mood the next day, which in turn leads to less anxiety and better sleep the following night. Since I have found Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT or “tapping”), I have developed the following steps for dealing with middle of the night wake-ups:
Most insomnia methods that don’t simply prescribe hypnotic sleeping pills focus on managing behaviors that affect sleep such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, limiting caffeine, and getting regular exercise. Most also suggest some form of relaxation technique to manage current stress. While these are all important steps toward overcoming insomnia, I believe the real key is to neutralize the stressors that caused the insomnia in the first place… even if the stressful events happened years or decades ago and seemingly have no relation to a person’s current life. Unresolved stressful and traumatic events get stored in the brain stem and in the tissues and can continue to wreak havoc on the nervous system until they are neutralized. A good example of this is my client of the month, “Jennie.”
While most insomnia books and programs connect current stress to sleep difficulties, most do not acknowledge how stressful or traumatic events from the past can continue to wreak havoc on the nervous system years or even decades later – even if these events seemingly have no relationship to present day life. My job as an EFT practitioner is to find and neutralize these events so the nervous system can return to a relaxed and balanced state. Here is a success story from the month of May.
EFT is an amazing tool that achieves incredible results. As a practitioner my tongue often gets tangled when I try to talk about WHY it works, and it is sometimes hard to gauge how much people really want to know. If you are curious about the science behind this simple, yet powerful technique, please read this article by one of my mentors, Craig Weiner DC.
This cartoon brought up memories of what it was like to have chronic, debilitating insomnia. Several years ago I belonged to a musical group I really enjoyed, but it was almost an hour away. The rehearsals ended at 9:00 p.m. and on the drive home, I would catch myself falling asleep, and there were actually times where I think I did fall asleep for a second or two at the wheel. I would jerk awake in terror and the rush of adrenaline would usually sustain me for the rest of the drive, but it was scary and painful.
I remember the day I heard about Michael Jackson’s death. It was on June 27, 2009, two days after it happened. I was flying home from an intensive week-long course where I hadn’t had access to news of any kind. As I watched the story unfold on an airport T.V. during a layover, what I remember most is not the grief at losing this talented performer and fellow human being well before his time, or anger at his doctor for irresponsibly providing a deadly combination of drugs, but compassion and understanding toward the King of Pop.