Mar 1

Why can’t I sleep?

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It’s time to liberate ourselves from problematic sleep

Insomnia doubled in 2020, the sector of society most affected were the mothers yet the help on offer is scarce and largely ineffective.

It has been my ‘thing’ for the past 6 months to get to the bottom of why the suggestions for better sleep (from sleep science, alternative therapies, the GP) are largely unhelpful given the way we live today and just not doing the job. Are lasting solutions to insomnia found elsewhere, in other cultures or just with some common sense?

Read on to find out more….

No doubt about it 2020 was a low point for the nation’s sleep, Insomnia has always been around with many of us losing sleep at times of stress, sadness or ill health but this was different. With our familiar schedules and routines shelved until who knows when … we looked for silver linings like no school run, vapour trail free sunny skies and eerily quiet streets.

However the threat an invisible killer, financial uncertainty and worries for the future understandably chip away at our sense of security and it’s no wonder sleep has been so affected. Problematic sleep doubled in 2020 yet the sector of society most affected has been mothers according to this study by the University of Southampton.

‘The analysis provides evidence that women have been more vulnerable to sleep deprivation during lockdown….These findings are in-line with much of the emerging research that suggests experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK have been very different for men and women…. For women with children aged 0-4 years, 19.5% suffered sleep loss over worry before the pandemic. This doubled to 40% during the first four weeks of the lockdown.’

It makes sense when you consider the anxiety that comes with uncertainty and a dearth of the things that tend to keep us afloat; hugs, friends, loved ones some personal space.

Healing benefits

We need sleep in order to heal, to process memory and feelings, to have perspective, patience, the energy to get through the day. Ironically melatonin the hormone of sleep has been found to be essential in recovery and also prevention of Covid 19. So the case for better sleep is clear but what if we can’t, where do we turn?

Many of us turn to Dr Google and find that caffeine is a villain in the story of sleep, lavender is a fairy godmother, blue light is the baddie and checking emails at night the wicked step mother. We will find pillow sprays and extortionate mattresses but not much else.

It’s a complex thing because it’s not the case in all cultures and for all people. In Indonesia they practice Todoet Poeles “fear sleep”, the act of falling instantly into a deep sleep during times of extreme stress. Wow!


Italians commonly drink strong coffee after dinner with no issue whatsoever in falling asleep. Not such a villain in Verona, Vicenza or Venice it would appear. Interestingly enough a study by the University of Basel published in Feb 2021 has found that caffeine consumed in the study did not result in poor sleep for the participants. Well, well, well.

I used to be totally neurotic about caffeine, I had a cut off time of 12pm and if I happened to partake later than that I would taunt myself throughout the day ‘you’re not going to sleep now’ giving myself mean self-hypnosis. And you know what…it worked, I would feel anxious and fight sleep.

It’s not to say there is no substance to the claim that caffeine affects sleep, but to offer a balanced assessment some people are extremely sensitive to the effects of a cuppa but huge amounts are not. The moral of this story? Be careful what you give your power to I gave it to the caffeine for years, think of all the hours of sleep I have lost unnecessarily.

I was an insomniac for 3 decades on and off, I never found the advice available helpful. In many ways it provided me with additional anxiety around sleep making me feel my patterns of sleep were bad for me, and I was doing something wrong. So half way through the pandemic I started researching, learning and contacting people who know a huge amount about the brain and sleep. I say ‘people’ but I really mean just one, Ben Wolff legendary Clinical Hypnotherapist, dream, sleep and breath expert. Ben has years of helping insomniacs with his M.U.R.E.E.L solutions – most useful rapidly effective easily learnt.

Help for Sleep protocol

This has led to the Help For Sleep protocol, a combination of

  • M.U.R.E.E.L techniques for sleep that combine Hypnotherapy, Breath and Neuroscience.
  • Serious reframing of ‘problematic sleep’ by looking at other cultures and the nocturnal patterns of previous generations. Spoiler – waking several times in the night is not a disorder we’re meant to.
  • Dismantling unrealistic and unhelpful expectations of sleep. Who decided 8 hours unbroken sleep is the goal anyway and how much sleep do we really need?
  • Mythbusting I’ve given you a taste of this already with our Italians and Indonesians circuit breaking our beliefs caffeine and stress using up to date science and a sprinkling of common sense.

For those keen to conquer insomnia or learn more we will be doing a comprehensive 10 hour virtual training 15/16 May with The Shala London. Check it out here

You know the best thing about cracking sleep is that you can get on with using the night for the really good stuff.

We spend a third of our lives asleep but the majority of us are completely unaware of the potential within the night. We have been told that the ideal is to be asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow and awake remembering nothing – but have missed the point entirely.

Sleep doesn’t have to be a time of nothingness but liberation, healing, insight and creativity. Einstein knew, Lennon and Tesla too. There is a growing movement of people learning about Lucid dreaming and Tibetan Dream Yoga allowing them to explore and wake feeling refreshed and with their mojo well and truly back.

Sessions you can attend

Ben and I are holding 10 one hour lunchtime lie downs Ten Lessons in Nightness starting 15 March 1-2pm, where we reveal secrets of guiding sleep to look and feel your most fabulous all underpinned with science, breath and a bit of Tibetan magic. We will also do a practice in each workshop…bliss.

From Beauty Sleep (wrinkle smoothing, fat burnin’ wonders all while we sleep) to Family Sleep (how to get your loved ones to sleep) Superchargin’ Sleep (for those after a boost) and many more, 7 in fact you can find them here

Drop in for one with your lunch or collect the whole set, recordings available.

I am looking forward to seeing you at the next Centred Sundays or perhaps for a lunchtime lie down.

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