- “70 Million of Americans suffer from a sleep problem and nearly 60% of those have a chronic disorder” (NHIBI)
- “The worst effect of sleep isn’t how it effects us at night it is how it effects us during the day, on a physical level and emotionally.” (Great British Sleep Survey, 2015)
- “We are naturally designed to be completely regenerated in one nights sleep. If this doesn’t occur, you are living more than one day at a time.” (Serge Benhayon, Esoteric Teachings & Revelations, p 322)
- 1 out of 3 people have insomnia at some point in their lives – Sleep Health Foundation
- Women are twice as likely as men to have difficulty falling asleep – National Sleep Foundation
- There are 84 classifications of sleep disorders – National library of medicine
The discussion kicked off with a bang with a lot of involvement from a very engaged audience, prompting some very enriching discussion. Here are some of the highlights . . .
“Whatever we are taking with us that has happened during the day, if we can’t let that go before we go to sleep then we are actually taking that into our night, we are waking up feeling completely exhausted and then we go through that next day with that level of exhaustion and it becomes like a snowball effect. It’s not surprising then that so many of us walk around feeling completely shattered.” Alison Pearson
“It takes a lot of trust to let your body go to go to sleep. You have to let go of that protection. Often when people are in overwhelm or an anxiety, whatever that happens to be, the sleeping gets worse.” Katie Walls
“You can survive longer without food than you can without sleep. . . we focus on what we are eating but are we giving that same focus to our quality of sleep, considering we can’t survive as long without sleep compared to food? That just shows the relevance of looking into our issues with sleep and the lack of quality of our sleep even more.”
“We’re not talking about just sleep, we’re talking about our whole lives – a 24 hour cycle. And if we start to realise that our day actually starts at night time – so how you go to sleep, and the quality of how you go to sleep and the quality of that sleep significantly impacts how you are going to feel when you get up, which then has an effect on all your relationships and movements throughout your day. The interactions in your relationships when you wake up in the morning sets the day, sets the tone, yet are we consciously clocking and reviewing the quality of our movements at night. How am I preparing to go to bed? Do I start to engage in conversations or activities that perhaps are not necessary at that time, do I go into drive doing things or eating food at night that doesn’t support my sleep?” Katie Walls.
“Learning that point where the child is old enough to understand that if they go to bed late that’s going to have a knock on effect that’s going to make it harder to get up in the morning.” Alison went on to explain how she worked with the fact that her teenage son wanted to stay up later than her and how she accepted this and let go of the ideal that she needed to be the timekeeper if her son didn’t understand the effects and consequences on his body of staying up late or how it plays out in his day like waking up late or getting to school late. “Those consequences are what he needs to feel for himself to be able to appreciate that he may need to readjust his cycle.” So, by thinking we are being ‘good parents’ we are not allowing the child to take responsibility for themselves, equally the effect it is having on us, is very unloving.” Alison Pearson
The discussion then moved to how we finish off our day and the motivation behind that. Often we think we are having some ‘me time’ once the kids are asleep, but by staying up later and watching TV or working longer than is needed, when our body actually wants to be in bed, but we want that time to ourselves, but what actually happens when we stay up after our body has shown signs that it wants to be in bed is that when we ignore these signs and continue with what we want to do, we get a second wind.
You know when your tired and you say ‘I’ll just stay up a bit more to finish watching this show’ then you get a second wind and don’t feel so tired and end up staying up for longer? Where does this second wind come from if it wasn’t there before and your body is tired? Katie pointed out, this is energy that is to support you in your next day but we so often kick-start it the night before.
“Our spleen loves us to be in bed from around 9 – 9.30 because it regenerates from that time until 1pm, that’s when it’s doing most of it’s work. So it’s saying, ‘come on, it’s time to get to bed, when you’re not active, I can get to work regenerating your blood cells - that’s why we naturally get tired around this time because our body is putting us into that repose, that quieter time. When you get that kick in of more energy– that’s your kidney energy for the next day.”
“Can you imagine, most of society is living way ahead and having no reserve hence the overwhelm and exhaustion we are seeing . . . in clinic teenagers are absolutely exhausted – the extra demands they have with study etc, the stress is just coming out younger and younger. Very unfortunately today there are a lot of teenagers on antidepressants because they are exhausted, stressed and not coping.”
In relation to the hours we feel we need to sleep
“It’s not so much about the hours of sleep. I find that when you have a really good quality night’s sleep you wake naturally . . . if I set an alarm I usually wake before the alarm goes off. It’s irrelevant really what the time it is.” Alison Pearson
“We become obsessed with the hours of sleep and then that creates an anxiety, because you might go out at night and get home at 11pm or 12am and then you need be up at 5.30am – are we focusing on the quality of sleep or are we going ‘oh, I’m going to be tired’ and then you’re lying there awake, thinking you need to be asleep and the anxiety comes in.”
How do we prepare our bedroom, does everything support us in the room? In what quality are we making our bed in the morning? Are we doing it just to get the task done or are we going ‘this bed is going to have my body in it tonight, I’m going to lovingly make the bed and then that imprint is what you lie back into.”
“Sometimes I put my electric blanket on before I go out, and put my pyjamas on the bed to warm up on and it feels so lovely when I get home and walk into the bedroom. It’s like giving yourself a big hug because you’ve walked into that care that you’ve laid out for yourself in preparation for your sleep. You’re already putting yourself to sleep by having that set up and being organised for yourself. There are so many things we can do to support our quality of sleep.” Katie Walls.
What happens when we are still thinking about our day or planning the next one in our head as we hit the pillow?
“Before even going to bed, introduce things that are very relaxing. It might be having a lovely warm bath or sitting quietly doing some gentle breathing like the Gentle Breath Meditation, even just for 5 minutes, to bring ourselves back to our body and stop the whirring going on in our heads.” Alison Pearson
The frustration of not being able to get to sleep
“When that frustration comes in it’s like fighting with your body.” Alison Pearson
“How we are through our day has a direct effect on the quality of our sleep. When we don’t sleep well there’s so much emphasis on ‘I’ve got to sleep, I’ve got to sleep’ – but bring it back to focusing on how I am during the day. Focus on that and it’s almost like the sleep takes care of itself. So winding it back to go ‘ok, if I’m living in a certain way, in an anxiousness or under stress or feeling anxiety and we’re in that movement throughout the day then we’re actually carrying that into how we sleep.” Donna Gianniotis
“What we’re really talking about is tension. When you are lying still in bed and winding down you can often feel the tension more. When you’re active during the day you may not be as aware of it. . . . feel what is going on in our body rather than fighting it . . . say ‘what is my body telling me? Our bodies are such awesome communicators, when there is tension this is our body saying something isn’t ok and it needs to be addressed. So work with yourself to read what your body is telling you is not ok. And give yourself the opportunities to take the relationship with your body deeper to start to see and understand more.
Often we don’t want to see what our bodies are revealing because then we have to address more of what is at the root of causing the tension. The are many aspects in life that can contribute to tension such as - something that doesn’t feel right in the house, how the family is relating to one another or not having expressed to your partner or a friend something that upset you from a week ago. It’s supportive to acknowledge these things and begin to work with the underlying aspects creating the tension. Katie Walls.
“Anxiety comes from not supporting your body to the level it’s asking you to. In other words, when we are not honouring our sensitivity and, therefore, what we are feeling, and instead overriding this in the do, do, do, do, activity of getting things done. The feelings of anxiety is your body saying, “this is not right, you’re not looking after me, you’re not acknowledging what’s most important and needed here.” Katie Walls
A lot of people go to bed in anxiousness and then sleep in this state. A good exercise to see if this is happening is to – put your hand on your heart – and if it’s beating faster than it should, and you can feel a raciness, then your sleep is being compromised with the anxiety.” Katie Walls.
Food and sleep
“If you’re eating food that’s heavier than what you’re feeling like or stimulating, that’s going to have an effect on your sleep as well.” Katie Walls
“If I eat later or have a bigger meal that will effect how I sleep . . I know if I eat too much that it’s going to be much more difficult to settle and will affect my sleep that evening. Almost everything we do has an affect on how we are going to sleep. So it is important to always considering the whole.” Donna Gianniotis
“We don’t realise the extent of the effect that food is having on us. Sugar stimulates then makes us tired, often people don’t connect the effect that these types of food are having on them. Even the healthy food, if that’s too heavy for your body, you’re just going to feel tired and drained. Its great to check in with yourself when you have a wave of tiredness, what have you eaten, then you can start to see if there is a reoccurring pattern with the food you’re eating.” Katie Walls
“You might be having something sweet after lunch and then an hour or two after you’re feeling tired.” Katie Walls
“I know when I was eating bread I was always feeling sleepy afterwards.” Audience member.
How can we help HSC students with their sleep? – Audience question
“First stop – check into how are we feeling as parents? It’s a hard time, we don’t want to see them going through it - what they put their body through to do it and it’s like ‘I can’t wait for you to finish this so you can get on with life. But I hear parents say: ‘no, I can’t do this or that and put their own life on hold because we’re doing the HSC’. This doesn’t actually support our kids as it can eventuate making this process feel bigger than it actually is. By all means it’s supportive to consider what extra is needed in nurturing our kids and being available in way of support, but for us to continue to support ourselves in our own day to day rhythm means that we have more to offer them. If we tip toe around and put them at the top and drop what is needed to make ourselves feel good then we don’t have the full reserve ourselves to be able to help support and discern what’s really needed and to not get emotionally affected by the process. The sounder we are within ourselves the more supportive this is for them.” Katie Walls
“So putting yourself at the top of the list, still having time for things that you enjoy doing, having your rhythm that supports you and then you’re going to be able to give back much more to them. Often they can be so stressed that no matter what you say can cause a reaction, but the more steady you are, that’s huge support for them.” Katie Walls
“If they do find it hard to go to sleep it’s really important to shut off (screens) to have some time out before going to bed because otherwise your whole mind is so stimulated. Maybe they can work out a cut off time when they stop studying that works for them and getting into a rhythm so that a panic doesn’t come in to go ‘I’ve got to stay up to have this ready for the morning.” Alison Pearson
“It is not the be all and end all. There is so much focus and talk about the HSC, so much talk about the ATAR and so much unspoken pressure. One of the greatest gifts we can give as parents is to allow our children to be the amazing people they already are. It is what it is with the HSC. They will all do wonderful things in life if they are given the opportunity to just be who they are. There are so many paths and so many options that they may have never considered if they’d followed the ‘expected path’ done the HSC, gone to Uni, done the Honours etc.” Alison Pearson
“It’s so important for us to express the love that we feel and for them to be on the receiving end of that and feel treasured. Otherwise it’s like - you are viewed as ‘how well you do’ – it’s the output – it’s about what you can achieve. That’s awful, as a parent, if I feel like that’s how my children think that’s how they are being perceived, as not being good enough… how does that feel for the child.” Alison Pearson
If we’re feeling frustrated - “Even if you are saying nothing it is all felt.” Alison Pearson
“There’s always a choice. Often we go about life doing it a certain way and often we don’t feel that there are options.” Katie Walls
Living what society shows us to live as a ‘normal family’ or living what feels true to you and each member in the family and in all your relationships – all of the way we live has an effect on our sleep. If we are not being true to ourselves then this creates a tension every moment – this is huge, and it accumulates. We align to so many subconscious expectations, an example - the kids need to keep up with after school activities even if they don’t like them all, just to support them to be balanced. But balanced in what way and to what?
“First it’s make little shifts, and then more and more, simply honouring what you can feel is needed. And then you start to go ‘I don’t care what people think vs – no, that’s the way I should do it’. You are your own teacher. Nobody knows exactly what your body needs.” Katie Walls.
“When you start to let go of those ideals and beliefs the future starts to take care of itself.” Donna Gianniotis
“If you’re carrying a tension of ‘I’ve got to live up to other people’s expectations’ – that’s poison in your body. Every step you take living up to someone else’s expectations is poison - OUCH.” Katie Walls
“It’s amazing how hard we can be on ourselves. It doesn’t matter then how great everything is around you if you’ve got that internal dialogue, saying this is not enough. What causes this is a lack of appreciation. That is a huge epidemic.
We’re always seeing what we’re not doing. We’re always seeing what we could be doing. But we’re not going, on a day-to-day, ‘you know, I aced it with that meal – I just cooked that and just put what I felt to put in and that is so dam yummy and that’s amazing!’ or ‘I’ve been avoiding having that conversation with so and so who I’ve been scared of for three years and I’m just sick of not saying what I feel and I just did. And wow, there’s more space in my body – huge healing has just taken place here.’ ” Katie Walls.
Avoiding the sleep slumps through your day
“In the morning, look at the quality of how you are preparing for the day? Are we allowing that time or are we rushed? That sets up our day much more than we’re actually realising. I give myself an extra half an hour so that I’m not needing to be rushed.” Katie Walls.
“Consider what is needed to bring that deeper level of love to your morning not just in the physical but the quality of how you are moving and the internal dialog you're having with yourself, and just playing with this. So that you are getting your ‘me’ time at the beginning of the day rather than the end of the day.” Katie Walls.
“I love the morning now, it’s lovely. I get so much more done and it’s more productive. It’s shifting that paradigm – do I really need to stay up late to get things done or can I self-nurture and put myself to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier. And then we’re really supporting ourselves to have a better day. You feel good throughout the day. When I really started to value how well I felt throughout the day it was easier to say ‘ok, I want to go to bed earlier or I don’t want to have sugar or caffeine.” Donna Gianniotis
“It’s so important to create the space. To get to know your body on a deeper level and supporting your health is to have space to feel what’s going on, rather than being overwhelmed and stressed. Often we actually get self worth out of being super busy and having too much on because everyone will go ‘oh, look at how much you do, you get so much done in your day, everyone in society champions this, you are wonder woman, you’re the best.’ This is very opposite to what our body is asking for - its going: ‘don’t drive me like this, don’t push me like that.” Katie Walls.
“If we don’t start looking at the tension we are going to bed in, our adrenals get hammered. Hence why we’re seeing more chronic fatigue and immune system problems etc.” Katie Walls.
What gets in the way of honouring ourselves when our body is asking us to go to bed?
“I would be told I’m anti-social if I go to bed early.” Audience member.
“So other people’s reactions,” responded Katie.
“Leaving people’s houses from evening events can be really awkward – especially if it’s only 10pm,” Alison Pearson.
“My child likes the light on until he goes to sleep so I stay up and turn it off.” Audience member.
“I use my iPad for writing my list too much at night.” I’ve got to turn it off and say no, to get a good rest for tomorrow. Audience member.
So it’s about setting loving boundaries for ourselves. It’s like saying: “I love myself too much not to support what makes me feel vital and ready to enjoy life.” Katie Walls
“I get lonely… even if I’m really tired and other people are up I don’t want to be away from them.” Audience member.
“Ok from feeling this, our body is asking to go deeper in our relationship with ourselves.” Katie Walls
On TV – “I’m in there, I’m not really watching anything, I’m completely checked out and my body’s going ‘I need you to go to bed an hour ago.” Audience member.
“If I watch any television my body feels very different from when I first sat down to when I finish.” Alison Pearson
“Often what we think is relaxing and regenerative, actually isn’t. I have watched my husband after he’s had a big week and he is tired and if he watches TV, he often doesn’t feel any more relaxed afterwards… If I go for a walk and feel my feet and body for half an hour I’m so much more relaxed than if I’ve laid down on the couch watching TV. So feel into it rather than going with what we’ve been told is relaxing.” Katie Walls
“If you’re more refreshed you don’t take things as personally.” Katie Walls
Practical support to prepare your body for sleep
Donna then took the group through some simple connective tissue exercise to help bring the group into their body.
Donna also suggested the Gentle Breath Meditation to support a connection with ourselves.
Upcoming Nurturing Your Health Event
Are your days ‘too busy’ to spend time on caring for you? Do feel stagnated or blocked in any part of your life? Do you get frustrated or reactive often or ever wake feeling less that vital and healthy?
We all have our own rhythm in how we go about our day-to-day lives - in our relationships, sleep, what we are eating, caring for ourselves, how we work and more. The question is are these rhythms supportive for us or not? If there’s any part of our life that doesn’t feel like it flows easily or doesn’t leave us feeling nourished it can become draining and can have an effect on all the other parts of our lives.
So how do we make the changes required to develop our rhythm so that we feel more harmony and flow in our every day?
This Nurturing Your Health presentation will discuss being in relationship with ourselves in a way that allows us the opportunity to be more aware, not only of our choices, but also of the consequences of those choices and hence establishing or deepening a healthy and supportive rhythm.
Friday 13th of October
Cost: Free, including morning tea
Time: 9.30am - 12.00pm
Venue: 19 Harrington Avenue, Warrawee
Contact: Katie on 0412 187 458 or