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I Know You Can't Sleep But Its Not Insomnia!

The word "insomnia" has become so ingrained in language and culture that even medical professionals have a difficult time telling the difference between what truly is insomnia and what is not. I have known many patients who came in to see me for insomnia that they have apparently had for many years, and treated often with multiple medications, but a short discussion later, they reveal the real problem.

The inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up too early leading to the effects of insufficient sleep is defined as insomnia, and for it to be a medical diagnosis as a health disorder it is usually required to be of sufficient duration of at least a month. An individual with insomnia is unable to get sufficient sleep no matter what. Of course the word sufficient means the amount of sleep required by a person's body in order to feel fully rested. That number can also considerably vary by individual ranging from five to ten hours per day for an adult.

Herein lies the issue: First, how much sleep do you think you need, and are you really unable to sleep that much? Second, really, given the opportunity, can you really not get the amount of sleep you truly need? The differentiation is vital because it leads to the type of treatment that is most likely to help.

Many people have been stuck in a bad sleep routine for so long they have no idea how much sleep they need in a day. Young parents and middle age workers being a prime example of busy lives and responsibilities, find a short amount of time late in the evening to be by themselves to unwind from the day. They end up going to sleep late, wake up tired the next day and struggle through the day. They don't have insomnia. Send them on a vacation and they do just fine. In the busyness of life they often lose sight of how much sleep is necessary for them to feel charged up and function at their best, leading to excessive caffeine use.

Young adults and teens often report they can not fall asleep at a reasonable time, but given the chance they will sleep in, sometimes all day, to obtain the full amount of restful sleep they need. They stay up late and have to wake up early, struggling to make it to classes, then sleep till very late on weekends. They don't have insomnia. Given the opprtunity they sleep well and enough.

Retirees most often end up sleeping in fragments. My own mother for example, an eighty year old, has forever complained of not being able to sleep well at night. She falls asleep around ten, to wake up at two, then sleeps from four till about six. She will wake up, eat breakfast, then nap for an hour, spend a few hours sitting around then nap again for a couple of hours. The fragmentation of sleep, which is common biologically in the elderly anyway, gives the impression as if they have insomnia but in fact they are getting the amount of sleep they need, but only in fragments.

By any means, my implication is not that these are not real problems of real people. My point is that to solve these problems the answer is not in a prescription of Ambien or trazodone. And the argument here is not that these are bad medicines, but that it is the wrong answer simply because it does not address the real problem.

We shall continue this discussion.

 

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

Is Retirement A Ticket to Freedom From The Rules of Life?

"I am retired. I earned it. I have no worries. I can do what I want, right?"

If you are fortunate enough to be financially, physically and emotionally secure in retirement, does it truly mean freedom?

I have had a number of patients lately, retired, relatively healthy individuals, complaining of being tired all the time, with no energy to participate in activities by themselves or with their partners in life. They feel sick, unhealthy, as if their bodies are all of a sudden falling apart. Their relationships are badly affected. All other factors being equal, the common characteristic among them has been the sense of being free from the rules the body was designed to follow.

Of course, my area of interest being sleep, that is the issue I am concerned with here. Once retired, these individuals having undergone a dramatic shift in their daily routine and lose track of what they need to do to stay healthy, energized and functioning.

They have variable bed times, wake up when they want, go to sleep when they want, take naps during the day when they want or even uncontrollably fall asleep for being sleep deprived. Caffeine, alcohol, Benadryl, antidepressants and sleeping pills are frequently being used. They often have planned well financially to live in retirement but in the process of making enough money to retire, they failed to plan for activites that would give them the motivation to keep on living a healthy life. They have either no hobbies and no planned activites, or have interests that are sedentary.

In contrast, I mistakenly believed for a long time that the only major age group susceptible to this problem was young adults and adolescents. In fact retirees seem to be suffering even more. Aging bodies, even if otherwise healthy, require better upkeep, maintenance and care. Younger bodies can take a lot of beating and still keep ticking.

If you are retired or close to retirement, know that if you retire in your 60's, you may have another forty or more years to live if you take care of yourself. You want those years to be healthy, happy and functional. To achieve that goal, you need a daily routine of activities. Scheduled exercise, yoga, meditation and participation in social activities are all included.

If you are young and retirement seems like a distant future, plan ahead; not only financially for those forty years after retirement, but to stay alive, healthy, happy and able to care for yourself. Cultivate some active interests. Learn some skills and develop hobbies and interests that are unrelated to your area of work. Keeping active and on a daily routine during retirement keeps you young. You owe it to yourself.

(Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio provides Gentle, Restorative and Yin Yoga classes, as well as Meditation classes for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life with any skill level.

Deep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles in mind, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed.)  

 

For "Always Tired, Stressed Out, Over Worked, Can't Sleep" People: If There is a Will There is "Deep Relaxation Training"!

 

Many of us were born wired for anxiety. Many of us trained ourselves for it through our childhood and adult life. Work, work, work. Work harder. Worry more. Do more. Nothing is enough more. Many of us have realized that worrying does not get us anywhere but keeps our minds from being focussed enough to solve our problems. But now we can't stop our minds. They keep buzzing, day and night. 

Some have anxiety, depression, insomnia or plain simple exhaustion. You find yourself unable to get creative or sometimes even unable to finish your everyday tasks. Work and chores keep piling up and our complaints about the 24 hour day being too short keep getting louder.

Many find they can not fall asleep or stay asleep. Some find themselves waking up too early in the morning. When it is time to get out of bed and get ready for the day you feel exhausted and unrested. You find yourself reaching for that dose of caffeine here and there to keep going, be it coffee, tea, "Coke", "5 Hour Energy", "Red Bull" or "Mountain Dew".

For all such people out there, the question is this: When will we take charge of our lives? When will be stop asking our doctors and healers for the magic pill or the magic potion, that, just like the fountain of eternal youth, does not exist.

Sometimes it is that feeling of "I can't go on like this any more" to do the Google search for a natural healing system for what ails us. And sometimes it takes a little coaxing from friends, family members and sincere well wishers to take the first step.

Now, don't take me wrong. I am not advocating that we stop pursuing medical treatments for our problems. This is a different sort of discussion here. About people who feel tired, burned out, stressed, at the end of their ropes, feeling helpless, unable to make their busy minds feel relaxed, unable to let go, who need to pay attention to new ways of treating their problems. Treating in addition to or in lieu of other treatments, depending on each situation.

Sehatu Sleep's Deep Relaxation Training system was created for these people, who want their energy and color back in their life. No chemicals, no supplements, no drugs or prescription medicines involved here.

It involves a supportive program of classes, attended in person, or in some situations via live video conferencing. Each class involves a regimen of stretching and breathing exercises, guided meditation and imagery, and a discussion about life, stress, sleep and what ails us.

To all those courageous suffering people who wish to make their lives better, we say, welcome!

Traveling Well and Grateful

It is better to travel well than to arrive.” Buddha

So, growing a business, any business, is hard. And, it is easier if you truly believe and have a passion for the work. If the work you do is in your essence. I know the above quote I have left at the end of the mat in classes this week can apply to anything and mostly to the big something: LIFE. It also struck me this morning... as I was going about my yard watering and playing with my dogs before the heat...it applies to growing Sehatu Sleep and Yoga, as well.

We are traveling well, Sehatu. Meeting new students, sharing our passion for Yoga and Relaxation Training, well. There is not an arrival, an outcome, beyond sharing practices and methods that have worked for us. What could be better, more authentic, than to be given the opportunity to share? Thank you.

We had a bit of a “staff meeting” a few nights ago. The time just whizzed by as we all sat around on chairs, bolsters, mats or the floor and shared like little kids our stories around Yoga and sleep. Sharing our travels that have brought us to Sehatu. Several of us commented about the energy of the space and the evening and how that sweet enthusiasm of like-minded, committed individuals, coming together was apparent. The energy you feel in your body when you know you are fully there and in your essence. I have learned to listen to that felt sense. It has helped me to travel well and to appreciate where I am today on and off the mat. Again, thank you Friendly Universe and all fellow travelers. Travel well.

Here is the Poem I have read to classes all week and a few of you asked for. “Walk Slowly”, by Danna Faulds, from Go In and In, Poems from the Heart of Yoga.

 

Walk Slowly

It only takes a reminder to breathe,

a moment to be still, and just like that,

something in me settles, softens, makes

space for imperfection. The harsh voice

of judgment drops to a whisper and I

remember again that life isn’t a relay

race; that we will all cross the finish

line; that waking up to life is what we

were born for. As many times as I

forget, catch myself charging forward

without even knowing where I’m going,

that many times I can make the choice

to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk

slowly into the mystery.

 

Sehatu Sleep Yoga Warriors...do not be afraid!

“Rejoicing in the ordinary things is not simple or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world.” Pema Chodron

I never fully know why I choose one particular quote verses another to leave at the end of students' mats after one of my classes. Except, it is often something I feel for myself or want to remember for myself a certain day and figure... because we are all the same... it might strike a similar chord for someone else. If not today, then maybe, on just the right day this little quote, this little slip of paper, will appear.

I realize today's quote by Pema Chodron was especially meaningful because we had so many “first time ever practicing Yoga” students in the Sehatu Sleep studio. New Yoga Warriors giving themselves ninety minutes of union with self and some self-care on a beautiful summer morning.

I will never forget what guts it took for me to get up the courage to enter my first Yoga class. And, I guess, all my “complaints” were about myself and the way I thought I had to be, or the thoughts about the way I was not that prevented an earlier Yoga journey. I thought I had to know Yoga “stuff” like how to do all the moves, etc. So, I waited until I had done Yoga tapes on my VCR at home and read a Yoga flip book that showed a practice. I fully realize, even though I had several Yoga studios in the area where I grew up, I was afraid. Afraid, I guess, to do something “wrong”...who knows, it is hard to understand fears that are really just thoughts.

So,I started my own Yoga journey much later at a gym and then took, what I perceived as, another big step and entered a Yoga studio. As I am certain today's students found, and, as I know I found in my first class: I did not need to know any “stuff”, I am enough just as I am today, and there is nothing scary about a Yoga studio, nothing scary at all. They are actually quite welcoming and sweet. And, it is their job and their purpose to share with you how you might do Yoga stuff. Rejoice.

(I do still hold a little wish I had started practicing Yoga earlier and entered the Warrior's World of Yoga in community back in the day. Even though I know, as Yoga has taught me, whatever day you do choose, is the perfect day for you!)

Congratulations Sehatu Sleep Yoga students...you are Warriors.

Yoga and The Mind Body Connection

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CAI attended the first Gentle Yoga class at Sehatu Sleep this morning. I was a student. Iram, the teacher and co-owner, had not taught many classes indoors before. She said after the class she was a bit nervous. I never would have known it. From the first word she spoke, I was at ease. Iram's voice is very soothing and it carries an involvement in what she is saying. We laughed afterwords about how she had to remind herself during the class that she was the teacher. She was so connected. I loved it and realized that is such an important quality, to me, in a yoga class; the teacher be in union/connected to what they are teaching. Left or right, foot here or there…foot anywhere…does not help me to drop into the present moment, my practice. What helps me to feel safe and comfortable in my practice, in the present moment, is when I feel the teacher is in a similar union/yoking. I felt there was meaning and purpose behind every word Iram shared. The definition of Yoga is that connection to body, mind and spirit. I want my teacher in a Yoga class to be connected, too. I enjoyed the gentle sequence and felt refreshed and renewed after the class. I even brought a friend by later in the day to see the studio and consider taking class ! es from Iram, and at Sehatu Sleep.
(Okay, so now I am a blogger and Yoga Pusher, too.) Thank you, Iram…I'll be back!!!
This entry is by our new contributor Joan Marks, a senior yoga teacher and integrative restoration practitioner. She can be reached at joan@sehatusleep.com.

On The Subject of The Active Mind Syndrome - Do You Have It Too?

To be very frank there is no such condition identified in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual that mental health providers use, at least not so far. Could it be that the prevalence of this problem is so high it is considered kind of normal to suffer with it?

Society has been hard at work to train our children and adults alike, to work hard, be responsible, worry about the consequences of our actions and be held accountable. Nothing wrong with any of that but there are ramifications to this training that we never see coming.

In going through the process of developing these necessary traits in our personalities, we de-train ourselves from how were were as young children, happy go lucky, taking a day at a time, relaxed and unhurried. Some of us can cope with the change simply because they have been blessed with a calm demeanor implanted genetically into their minds. The rest of us suffer. We worry about getting to places on time, paying bills, caring for loved ones, making money, spending money, socializing, networking, entertaining, being entertained, even sleeping. We take our busy minds to bed with us and rise with these busy multi tasking, active minds. Our minds keep busy problem solving, thinking, recalling what happened and planning ahead for what might happen, even when we are supposed to be resting.

Rest doesn't come easy, sleep doesn't come, and if it comes it is not restful. We keep tossing and turning in bed trying to fall asleep. We wake up within 2-3 hours of falling asleep often staring in the dark, counting sheep, checking text messages and emails, turning the TV on and off and finally giving in to the temptation to take some sort of sleeping pill. Some will keep going to the bathroom or get up and eat. Then comes the dreaded morning and back to the race to finish tasks, be on time, finish the work, on and on and on.

I see these people every day in my sleep medicine practice. Nice, responsible, good people. Suffering people. Distressed people. "Doctor, the more I try to sleep the harder it is to fall asleep. My mind just races and doesn't stop, even when there is nothing stressful happening. What should I do? Can you help me?" And I find myself thinking, here is another patient with the undiagnosed and so far unnamed Active Mind Syndrome.

There are many ways to treat it should you be one of those people who have experienced the ill effects of this condition. Its important to know two facts first though. Firstly, there is no use asking the doctor since most doctors don't know what it is (and likely they have it too) and they wouldn't know how to treat it. Secondly, the answer is not in a pill.

What is your motivation? How strong is it? How bad is your suffering?

We at Sehatu Sleep think we have the answer. We call it Deep Relaxation Training (www.sehatusleep.com). We feel it requires re-training the mind to make the best of both worlds. People can learn to be productive, efficient, high achieving, and at the same time able to let go, relax, and loosen up on demand; able to sleep like a baby. It does require hard work, commitment and consistency but is very do-able. It is very powerful and gives you the capability to deal with life as it happens.

It is certainly not the only answer. Many paths can lead you to the same goal. We think ours is the most comprehensive. If not us, there are many wise people around you wherever you are. It just takes recognizing the problem and then seeking help. Its around the corner. Waiting for you. Wherever you are.

Happy dreams!

Sehatu Sleep Opens its doors to the public on June 1, 2012

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CA We will open our doors to the public on June 1, 2012.

Registration is now open for introductory sessions for Deep Relaxation Training. Timings and days are listed on our calendar and classes pages. Pre payment of $25 for the 2 hour session is required, valued at $50. Please contact us at info@sehatusleep.com, call us at 916-742-7718 or schedule online by going to our classes page.

Registration is now open for Yoga classes. Timings, types of yoga and instructors are listed in our calendar and classes pages. Please contact us at info@sehatusleep.com, call us at 916-742-7718 or schedule online by going to our classes page.