Published on October 31st, 2019 | by Diane Eaton0
Having Trouble Sleeping? Read This.
by Diane Eaton
Despite the millions of Americans who have trouble getting a good night’s sleep night after night, solutions remain elusive, complex and often unique to each individual. I spoke with several Atlanta practitioners who, within the wider scope of their practices, help clients and patients with sleep disorders improve their ability to get the rest and revitalization they crave.
What’s Your Frequency?
“We have to recognize that we are electrical beings, and as such, we are made up of frequencies,” says Marina Irastorza, DC, LMT, owner and founder of Relax in Tones in Atlanta. “Everything around us brings a frequency along with it, too.” The body runs on electricity; in fact, the heart is able to pump blood because of the regular firing of an electrical signal.
“The nerves are the electrical wiring of the body,” says Irastorza. “The body runs on electricity, and in fact has what science calls a biofield—an electromagnetic field (EMF)—which is made up of frequencies.” So, when we are in proximity to things that carry a powerful electrical current, emitting frequencies of their own, our biofields are disturbed.
The body naturally resonates at around 7.83 Hz, according to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, ND., Ph.D., who is recognized for successful treatment of neurological illnesses. But many of the electronics we’re exposed to resonate above 2.0 GHz—hundreds of times higher. Due to the discrepancy, the finely tuned balance within the nervous system can be disrupted and cause a breakdown in health.
According to Martin Van Lear, FNP-C, owner of Tree of Light Health Clinic in Decatur, the EMFs of many of the powerful electronic devices in our environment—including cell phone towers, WiFi, smartphones, SmartMeters, and even the wiring within the walls of some homes—comprise one of the four leading toxins that contribute to disruption of the pineal gland, resulting in sleep dysregulation. The other three are chemical: aluminum, fluoride and Monsanto’s Roundup.
“The root cause of the sleep disorders I see in my practice is the toxicity of the pineal gland, which secretes melatonin,” says Van Lear. Since melatonin is sleep-inducing and has an ability to entrain the sleep-wake rhythm, it is considered key to good sleep health.
Stimulation vs. Exertion
“I used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep at night and would toss and turn for hours,” says Sally Berger, LMT, founder of Anatom’amma Intuitive Bodywork in Acworth. “Then I’d wake up with a caffeine withdrawal headache!” When a friend offered her a cup of decaf because she had run out of the caffeinated variety for her morning joe—Sally’s life changed. “Decaf still has a little caffeine in it, so you can still feel a little boost, but it is a significantly smaller amount, and sleep will most certainly improve,” she says.
On the other hand, physical exertion during the day is critical to support a healthy sleep/wake cycle. “Especially people who are at their desk all day, or sitting in traffic for a long time, they get to the point where they feel tired and only want to sit and relax afterwards.” But without exertion, the body and mind have disconnected; the mind might get sleepy, but the body’s not tired. “Walk, jog, go to the gym, take a bike ride,” she recommends. “Nothing’s going to change if you don’t exert yourself!”
Herbs and Supplements
Sleep is one of the four pillars of health within the Ayurvedic tradition, according to Dr. Falguni Trivedi, a partner at Athens Ayurveda in Athens.
Ayurvedic herbs can help support clarity of mind, deeper sleep, reduce stress and tension and promote emotional balance. Ayurveda focuses on balancing the doshas, the three bodily energies that govern health, so healthy sleep is a natural outcome of Ayurvedic practices.
There are numerous Ayurvedic herbs that can be helpful to sleep. Trivedi says the top three are Indian valerian root, which targets falling asleep and supports sound sleep; ashwagandha, which boosts resistance to stress; and Indian tinospora, which balances and nourishes the mind and body.
When it comes to supplementation, many people reach for melatonin, a key player in the sleep cycle. “But taking the correct dosage of melatonin is critical to success,” says Camie Vincent, LPC, LMHC, owner of A Step Toward Change Psychotherapy in Roswell. “Research shows that 0.3mg of melatonin per night works best for adults.” L-Thianine, which is found in green tea, can also help reduce anxiety and invite sleep. Natural GABA is another popular sleep aid.
Not surprisingly, lifestyle improvements can help to reset the balance within the nervous system and support improved reliability and quality of sleep.
Adjusting one’s daily and weekly routines to include activities that help de-stress and activate the right brain can go a long way to help restore a healthy sleep cycle. These can include walks in nature, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, listening to soothing music, rest, forest bathing, creative expression, healing emotional wounds, and time with animals.
There’s also a range of professional services that can bring the body and mind to a deeper experience of rest and relaxation more quickly, including massage, acupressure, chiropractic, energy healing, sound healing and Ayurvedic therapies.
Tossing and Turning? Try These:
- Mitigate EMFs. At bedtime, reduce exposure to electromagnetic frequencies by turning off all TVs, cellphones, modems and even routers for the night, if possible.
- Reduce exposure to blue light at night. According to a Harvard research study, too much exposure to blue light at night can interfere with melatonin production. Avoid using computers for at least two hours before bed and use “dark modes” on devices after sunset.
- Try earthing. Use grounding mats and other “earthing” products to bleed off disruptive EMFs from the body.
- Do a body scan. Slowly moving your attention from the top of your head down to your feet can help you get into your body and out of your head. Or do a progressive muscle relaxation, thinking of the muscles relaxing one at a time.
- Use imagery. Think about a relaxing scene such as a beach or whatever resonates with you. Think of the waves crashing, the warm sun on your face. Imagine being there. Your mind will wander and try to get back to your problems but train yourself to refocus.
- Use a sleep mask. “In our world, chock full of light pollution, not to mention the little blips and colored lights from our devices, it’s impossible for our flimsy little eyelids to keep us asleep all by themselves,” says Berger.
- Crawl the wall. Before bed, lie down on the floor and put your legs in the air against a wall. Then meditate on the breath. Before getting up, lay in the fetal position first and then get up slowly to avoid a drop in blood pressure. If you’re already in bed, simply put your legs up in the air for a few minutes. It rebalances circulation and is very relaxing.
- Do a breathing exercise. Deep breathing helps to quiet the mind and bring awareness to the body. “I do Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing exercise for five minutes, and I’m out like a light,” says Berger.
- Rub some oil. From Ayurveda, it is recommended to rub sesame or coconut oil on the feet and/or tips of the ears to calm the nerves and the mind.
- Self-hypnosis. Hypnosis helps switch the mind from high-frequency beta waves to slower theta, which is the precursor to sleep. Several apps offer background music and positive affirmations that entrain the brain to slow down.
- Don’t give in to negativity. If you’re tossing and turning, and you can’t turn off your mind, don’t let it get you down. Instead, tell yourself that as long as you’re resting and relaxing, you’re getting what you need most. You might even get little cat naps that you’re not aware of.