Sometimes a single traumatic event can wreak havoc on the sleep system for years after the trauma has passed. This was certainly the case with “Danielle,” who had not slept well ever since her husband had died eight years ago. Most nights it took her hours to fall asleep, often not falling asleep until after 2:00 a.m. Other nights she would fall asleep quicker, but then wake around 3:00 a.m. unable to return to sleep.
In situations like this, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT or “Tapping”) can work wonders. EFT is a powerful healing technique using the Mind-Body connection. It combines the ancient art of acupressure with modern psychology. The combination of gently tapping on meridian points while tuning into stressful events from the past, signals to the stress center of the brain to neutralize the charge around the events focused on. For insomniacs, this can often mean smoothing out the kinks in the nervous system so that good sleep can happen again – even if it has been years since good sleep has occurred.
In Danielle’s case, five EFT sessions did the trick.
In our first session we focused on neutralizing the present events that were keeping her head spinning in all directions while she lay awake at night. At the end of our session she reported feeling much lighter, and had a few nights of great sleep before her insomnia returned.
In our second session, we went back to the night her husband had died. She and her husband had been on a cruise and he had died in bed of a heart attack. We moved through the feelings of panic and helplessness as she remembered how she felt when she first realized what was happening. She had been unable to even stay on the phone long enough to get the help she needed because she didn’t want to leave her husband’s side as she was giving him CPR. Finally, in desperation, she stepped outside of her room on the ship and simply screamed for help. Remarkably a neighboring passenger was a nurse and came to offer her services. Within minutes the ship’s doctors were there and Danielle’s panic subsided somewhat, but she remembers feeling distant from the scene and not fully in her body. We tapped and tapped until both feelings of panic and helplessness were down to 0.
Then she fully felt the deep sadness of losing her husband and the guilt of not being able to save him. We tapped on these feelings until they were neutralized, and she felt a great sense of relief.
It was a big moment when she said, “Even though I can’t save him, I deeply and completely accept myself. I forgive myself for not being able to save him because it is done. I did everything I could and there is nothing else I can do.” She reported sleeping great for the next several nights.
In our remaining three sessions, we tied up loose ends. We tapped down the guilt she felt at “not being as good of a wife as she could have been,” “not being as good of a mother as she could have been,” and she did some deep forgiveness work for herself and others.
In her last session she said her sleep patterns had improved so much that even when something had upset her during the day, she simply told herself not to worry about it or lose sleep at night – and she didn’t! She slept great! Last I spoke with her she has continued to sleep really well. What a relief after eight years!