If you have ever had problems sleeping, you will know that it is completely debilitating. Of course we can all suffer from sleep problems from time to time – perhaps we are worrying about an important work project for example, but long-term sleep problems need to be addressed at the source. And, as, with most issues, shamanic healing can not only identify – but also heal – the root of most sleep problems.
It is important to understand that our body is hugely intelligent and the development of sleep problems can be its way of indicating deeper health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, menopausal symptoms or depression. Therefore, it is important to go and see your doctor to rule these out before turning to alternative therapies such as shamanic healing.
Once your doctor has ruled out the above issues, then in my experience –gained from working with clients worldwide since 2004 – sleep problems can arise due to issues in the following areas –
Shamanic healing techniques can help you with the first three categories and you can also find some handy tips on how to deal with physical issues at the end of this article. So now, let’s address each area in turn.
How spiritual/soul issues affect sleep
Often, after suffering an emotionally traumatic event, we can suffer from soul loss.
As I mention in my blog post on soul retrieval, soul loss is actually a protection mechanism deployed by the soul in order to help you cope after suffering emotional, mental or physical trauma.
Effectively, after suffering trauma, we can feel lost, numb, disjointed, disassociated, lethargic, ungrounded (not in our body/not connected to the earth), forever changed and incomplete. These symptoms understandably disrupt our sleep patterns, as often our body does not feel safe, secure or whole enough to be able to sleep.
Soul retrieval form an integral part of shamanic healing and can help restore a person to wholeness, as well as returning lost personality aspects, increase energy levels (which boost the immune system), and restore feelings of wholeness. It also provides us with resources to help us move forward in life, so we can go on to create the life of our dreams.
But before lost soul parts can be returned to a person, shamanic healing sessions are required to clear up the original trauma. This can be likened to a child running away from home (soul loss) – if we then return the child (soul part) back home, we want it to stay there, therefore the issue/trauma that caused the child/soul to leave in the first place needs to be healed thoroughly.
Shamanic healing is the oldest form of healing on our planet. It pre-dates religion, therefore it is suitable for everyone, of any age. I have worked on babies just a few months old to people in their late eighties!
Shamanic healing can help address sleep problems by providing healing at a very deep level. Imagine a dandelion growing in your garden – if you just snap the leaves and flowers off you will soon have another dandelion growing in your garden! But shamanic healing finds the root of your issues –effectively pulling out the whole dandelion. In many instances the healing reaches back to heal the very first instance a pattern occurred in our lives, even if this means healing past lives.
How can past life issues affect sleep?
One of my clients had not slept for more than a couple of hours a night – for over thirty years. He had endured a very difficult childhood, which we worked on healing. Since childhood he had been terrified of being killed, particularly by his parents, and he also suffered from extreme anxiety if he felt even the slightest bit ill. We eventually discovered that he was the reincarnation of an ancestor who had been murdered in his sleep as a baby.
This probably sounds far fetched, but because we take our energy system (our chakra system) with us when we die, our bodies effectively remember everything that has ever happened to us, in this lifetime – and also in previous lifetimes (this occurs whether you believe in past lives or not!). Effectively, in situations like this, our past lives selves are not at peace, they haven’t gone to heaven but remained stuck in trauma. Our bodies try to encourage us to heal these past lives by ‘misbehaving’ in some way – in this mans case, not allowing him to sleep well. Once we healed his traumatised past life self, my clients body was able to move out of its permanently anxious state and relax, and he now enjoys the best night’s sleep ever.
How can shamanic healing heal traumatic events that happen in this lifetime?
Many years ago now I saw a client in her early fifties who told me she had never slept through the night in her entire life. She survived on a couple of hours here and there even though she had a very demanding job. As we worked on healing her sleep issues we found that she clearly remembered being born.
She remembered being passed to her mother immediately after birth – only for her mother to reject her and refuse to hold her. She was then put into a cot after which she fell asleep. When she woke up her mother was not there and a few days after that she was placed into a care home. We worked on healing that highly traumatic event and very soon afterwards she was not only sleeping soundly through the night – after 50 years of not sleeping properly…but also feeling much happier inside.
Another client – a military soldier – was woken up every night by nightmares. Each night he would relive a particularly terrible scene he had witness while on tour. He also suffered from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Shamanic healing is wonderful at healing PTSD as, as you have seen above, it heals the traumatic event and then restores the person to wholeness with soul retrieval techniques. After just a few sessions his peace of mind was restored and he was able to find resolution, leave the past behind and sleep through the night.
Sleep problems caused by emotional issues
In addition to the examples above, anxiety can cause sleep disorders. When we become anxious we can come out of our body, (effectively our ‘spirit/soul’ bodies rise out of our physical bodies). When we sleep, it is common for our spirit/soul bodies to leave our physical bodies also, as we enter the dream-time. It seems like we are inactive when we are asleep but actually our brains and our souls are highly active at night. Therefore, if you are anxious – and therefore ungrounded, the last thing your body is going to want you to do is fall asleep.
Additionally, the stress hormones released as a result of our anxiety will also prevent us from sleeping, as our ‘flight or fight’ response will have been triggered. There are ways of helping ourselves reduce anxiety at night time. For instance you could do a grounding exercise to get you back into your body and reconnect with the earth. A ‘weighted blanket’ can also be very useful for anxiety related insomnia. These blankets, which are much heavier than normal blankets effectively push the body down and restrict movement, thus making a person more relaxed and grounded.
You may recall that babies are swaddled tightly to keep them calm and make them feel secure and held. These blankets work in a similar way. Research (Mullen et.al, 2008, Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. Vol 24 (1)) found that 63% of people using weighted blankets reported lower anxiety levels at night. These blankets can easily be found on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as well as other suppliers.
However, while the blanket may silence the anxiety while in place, like the dandelion that grows back, it will still be there in the morning. So addressing and healing the root cause of the anxiety through shamanic healing is recommended. Because let’s face it, feeling anxious is really horrible. We don’t have to carry it with us wherever we go. We can heal it, clear it, and move on with our lives.
The National Sleep Foundation states that depression and insomnia are closely linked – it differs from person to person whether the depression causes the insomnia or the insomnia causes the depression.
In either case, both are difficult to deal with. Symptoms of depression include anxiety, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, insomnia, lack of interest in anything – even things that used to bring you joy, loss of sex drive, fatigue, lack of concentration/forgetfulness and sadness. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms you must go and see your doctor.
In my experience in working with hundreds of clients suffering from depression – many of who have suffered for many decades, depression is something utilised by the body for a number of reasons. As you may have figured out by now, I’m always interested in getting to the root of the issue! More information on root causes of depression can be found in my blog post Healing Depression without drugs using shamanic healing.
In a nutshell, I have found that depression is used by the body in various ways, firstly, as a ‘buffer,’ i.e, it sits between ‘you’ and an issue that is unresolved or an emotion that you are either afraid of or one that is unhealed. This could be grief, sadness, anger, rage etc.
Secondly, depression can be used as a shield – like a thick layer of insulation around you, your body uses the depression to hide you from the world and to prevent you from feeling difficult emotions that come in from the outside world.
Finally, I have found that people can subconsciously (they are not really aware that they are doing it) use ‘depression’ as an excuse to not fully participate in life or to limit their exposure to the world, perhaps at times when they are feeling overwhelmed, particularly socially. In a way, the depression is used as an ‘uncomfortable comfort blanket’. It provides an excuse to not move forward in life – which I find often scares people. The known is preferred, even if that is fairly horrible.
Unhealed past lives can also cause depression – often people have wonderful lives in this lifetime and can’t understand why they feel depressed – but the root and the influence is in a past life that needs attention.
Depression can also be linked to poor diet, being indoors too much and lack of exercise so it is also important to address these areas of your life to help lift depression.
Often depression-like symptoms can arise in the winter time which are accompanied by oversleeping and cravings for carbohydrates. This type of depression is known as SAD – seasonal affective disorder. Women are normally more affected by SAD than men. In a way, SAD is like a primitive hibernation pattern – we want to go to our caves and sleep until spring! (I know if I could do that I would be very happy. Maybe I should move to a sunnier country!) SAD affects our circadian rhythms and disrupts the levels of neurotransmitters in our brain. I have suffered with SAD since being a child, but for the last few years I have taken a Vitamin D3 spray (the sunshine vitamin) and I make sure I get out for a long walk every day (even if its raining) and this has significantly lessened the symptoms. If you think you are suffering from SAD do go and see your doctor. They may be able to regulate your neurotransmitters or prescribe light therapy for you.
Of course it is common for us to feel down every now and then, life can be hard! But if symptoms persist, do seek assistance.
Sleep Problems caused by Energetic Issues
As mentioned above, our body needs to feel relaxed and safe in order for us to sleep properly and one of the ways it does this is by being ‘grounded’ – which means ‘we’ – our spirit or soul self, is inhabiting the physical body. It is not half in it, or hovering above it, or as I have seen with some clients, miles away from it. A weighted blanket will help us to feel more grounded. Alternatively, it pays to consider where we feel ‘we’ are.
Are we fully inhabiting our body and feeling heavy, or dizzily floating around? There are many ways of grounding. Eating root vegetables and heavy proteins such as meat helps. It sounds cheesy, but hugging a tree really helps! Put the whole front of your body against a friendly looking tree and wrap your arms around it. You will soon feel your energy being pulled down, helping you to feel more grounded. If you don’t fancy tree hugging, you can close your eyes and imagine you are a tree, sending your roots deep, deep into the earth until you feel grounded (heavy and flat footed). Another way to ground is to concentrate really hard on the feelings in the soles of your feet as you are walking.
Putting your wrists under cold running water helps, or turning the shower to cold for a few seconds really wakes you up and grounds you! Standing on the grass in bare feet works (not so well though in winter!). Did you know that the rubber in the soles of our shoes stops us from grounding and connecting to the earth? Our energy field – that which surrounds our physical body in an egg shape – is fed by earth energies so it is important for us to connect to the earth. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are also fantastic at helping us to ground and connect, so see if there is a class near you or buy a DVD (but a class is better as you also get to make new friends!). A well-grounded body is going to be happy to go to sleep, so do try some of the suggestions above if you have trouble sleeping.
Sleep Problems caused by Physical Issues
Blood Sugar Issues
Last week a client explained that she has her last meal at 7pm, goes to bed at ten pm and falls asleep easily. However, every night she wakes up suddenly around 3am, completely alert and often highly anxious.
This scenario often indicates blood sugar control problems. If the brain is starved of glycogen, in order to regulate blood sugar the adrenal glands (found on the kidneys – often the cause of our ‘fight or flight’ response) are triggered by the brain to release stress hormones, which helps to increase our blood sugar back to a safe level.
The downside of this is that the release of the stress hormones wakes us up…. and makes us feel anxious! I asked the client how she felt if she missed or was late for a meal and she replied she would feel shaky and irritable – again this is a sign of blood sugar control issues. Her diet was very poor with lots of sugar and carbohydrates throughout the day contributing to her blood sugar issues, so I referred her to her doctor – and also a nutritionist! So if you wake suddenly in the night and you are completely alert, please do go to see your doctor and get your blood sugar levels checked out.
A snack before bed can help reduce blood sugar issues in the night. This could be some unsweetened porridge made with unsweetened almond milk, a handful of nuts or a teaspoon of almond butter. (Please don’t have anything sweet!) And do make sure you eat well throughout the day (it’s always a good idea to see a nutritionist!).
Lack of Exercise
If you wake up, move yourself to the couch and watch TV all day before returning to bed in the evening, then its unlikely that you are going to be physically tired and ready for sleep! So do make sure you are active in the day, get out and have a walk in the fresh air, take an exercise class, go dancing – your body was designed for movement so do use it!
Additionally, the light from the TV screen (and phone and computer screens) affects us and can stop us from sleeping. So try to stop screen time at least one hour before bed.
Keep it cool!
I know that many of you like to keep your bedrooms cosy and warm, but actually bodies like to sleep in a cool room – about 17-19 degrees Celsius. I keep the radiator on low in my room and before I go to sleep I open the window a crack, even if it’s freezing outside. I sleep much better, and feel nice and fresh when I wake up.
Keep it dark!
Apparently our bodies like to sleep in total darkness, so try investing in a blackout blind. I used to sleep with the curtains drawn but now I leave them open and I wake up with the sun. I find this works for me, but if you are having problems sleeping try to darken your room, particularly if there is a lot of light pollution outside your bedroom. Your bedroom should be like a cave – dark, quiet and cool!
Keep a routine!
Personally, I find that it helps me to have the same routine before bed every night. I clean my teeth, take my make-up off and go to bed to read something very light (save the thrillers for the daytime!). I find at 11.45 exactly, my eyes start to droop and my legs start to fidget – a sure sign from my body that its time to turn the light out – and I’m asleep in minutes, waking up naturally at the same time every morning. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night and your body will soon get into a routine and start preparing itself for sleep.
Keep off the stimulants!
My father used to have a cup of tea before he went to bed and slept like a log! But generally, stimulants (tea, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, nicotine) should be avoided. If you drink tea and coffee try to have the last one at lunchtime. Alcohol should be avoided about three hours before bedtime. Also it is a good idea not to have a heavy meal just before bed!
Avoid napping in the daytime, because this will naturally make you less tired at night time!
TV’s, mobile phones and computers should all be banned from the bedroom. In fact limit – preferably remove – anything electrical. These items emit high electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s) which can affect health. I have an old-fashioned battery operated alarm clock on my bedside table instead of an electrical radio/alarm. The only thing I have plugged in is a bedside light for reading. If you watch TV in bed – a) try not to! b) if you simply have to, stop watching it about an hour before you sleep – you can read instead (not on a screen!) c) and unplug the TV from the wall before you sleep. I turn my mobile phone off before I sleep. If there is an emergency in the night I have a landline.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary! Feng what?
Is your bedroom lovely? Is it clean and tidy? Restful? If not, this could be affecting your sleep. A lot of clients suffering from sleep problems tell me that the downstairs of their house (the public parts) are tidy and clean, but their bedroom is completely cluttered and messy! Your body will not want to sleep in a cluttered room. It is amazing what a difference a good clean up has on your sleep.
Ideally, you want as little as possible in your bedroom! Think Japanese! Think minimalist! Do commit to spending some time making your bedroom a lovely place to sleep in. Maybe it needs a good clean, or even decorating? Is it time for some new bedding? A new mattress perhaps? Ideally, you should change your mattress every eight years and your pillow every year. When is the last time you washed your duvet/comforter? Try to get natural fabrics and fillings where possible.
Think about your room from an energetic point of view. Are your wardrobes and drawers full to bursting? Have a good throw out (it feels great afterwards, honestly!) and put everything back in an orderly fashion. Wash your curtains and wipe down your paintwork. Hoover under the bed. Move your DVD and book collection to another room. Ideally, get rid of everything under your bed.
To energetically cleanse your room, light some incense. I always have fresh cut flowers (not plants!) in my bedroom; it gives me something pretty to see when I wake up. You don’t have to spend a lot of money; you can get a small bunch of roses for a couple of pounds (and if you look after them they will last at least a week). And don’t forget to open the window and let some fresh air in.
Don’t forget ancient Feng Shui principles to create a bedroom that is harmonious and pleasant to be in. In addition to the items above, try to make sure that your bed is accessible from both sides. If possible –even if you have to go really small – have a bedside cabinet either side of the bed (for balance) and make sure the pillows are the same on each side. Try to place your bed out of the line of the door. Decorate in soothing, not stimulating colours. Whites, creams, light neutrals, soft pinks and greens are all good.
Importantly, pay attention to your bedroom art! If you are single, have a look at the art in your bedroom. Are there images of single people or items? Bring images into your bedroom of things you want to have in your life. So if you want to be in a relationship, put pictures up that has images of couples in them! Make sure the images are soothing or sensuous.
AVOID mirrors in your bedroom. I have one on top of an Edwardian dressing table, but I cover it every night with a scarf. Also avoid a lot of blue colours (a hint here or there is ok) and avoid images of water.
Think about lighting. Have a dimmer switch fitted or use a soft bedside light. Candles are good in bedrooms, (lit) as they clear heavy energy but make sure a) they are toxin free and b) make sure you put them out before you go to sleep! (It’s best to use a candle snuffer for this).
Keep your bedroom doors and the door to any en-suite closed. Make the space in which you sleep lovely and peaceful, do it for you…. you ARE worth it!
Make it smell nice!
Occasionally, if I am feeling stressed I put one drop of natural lavender essential oil on my pillow which always helps me to sleep. There are also wonderful pillow sprays that can aid sleep, but make sure you get a natural fragrance not a chemical one. Try to avoid putting perfume or aftershave on in your bedroom; the bathroom is better for this.
So I hope you can see that there are many reasons why we can suffer with sleep problems, but it is possible to heal them naturally and to enjoy a great night’s sleep. I hope the tips above help you.
If you think shamanic healing can help you get to the root of your sleep problems (or your child’s) then please do not hesitate to contact me.