In the book Getting Back to Happy from Marc & Angel Chernoff, they have a chapter about goals and rituals. I was listening to the book on Audible during my morning walk when they started talking about how important goals and rituals are in our lives. It really got me thinking of my sleep goals and how I use small daily rituals to help me accomplish my goals. It was confirmation for me that what I am doing is working and to keep doing it.
We never put our kids to bed and just expect them to fall asleep. We usually create a bedtime routine (rituals) for them. We give them a nice warm bath, a bedtime snack, cuddle them and/or read them a bedtime story. From these rituals, our children’s mind and body know when it’s time to fall asleep.
But for some reason, as adults, we forget about those bedtime rituals that really help us sleep better. We expect to be doing chores, be on the computer, read or watch tv until the last second before sleep. And then we wonder why we can’t just flip a switch and fall asleep. We haven’t prepared ourselves for sleep. Having a bedtime routine cues or mind and body that sleep is coming. While we sleep, both our physical body and mental body rejuvenates themselves, giving us energy the next day to be able to live a full and happy life.
What are my sleep goals?
To get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
To keep a consistent bedtime routine as much as possible, even on weekends.
To get good quality restorative sleep.
To wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Most of you know that it wasn’t always like that for me. I suffered from lack of sleep for several years. I resorted to sleeping pills to get a few hours of sleep and coffee to function during the day. I could only sustain that for a few years before my body decided it was no longer going to be able to keep up that lifestyle. Since then, sleep has been my number one priority. When I don’t sleep enough or don’t get good quality sleep, I don’t feel well physically and mentally. I never want to feel that way again.
My desire is to wake up each morning rested and full of energy. To be able to do that, I need to get good quality restorative sleep every night. In their book, they say “The Universe isn’t going to make your desires come true. You are.” That is so true. How do I make my desires come true? I follow daily rituals…
Rituals: Practice Daily What You Want to Manifest Regularly.
Carve out a little time every day to focus on the things that matter most, and the benefits will return to you exponentially.
When we focus on the small daily rituals we don’t even realize how much work we are putting into our goals. It feels easy and doable and it becomes part of our routine. The next thing we know, we are achieving our perfect sleep every night and our lives change for the better. Because without sleep, nothing else works right.
What sleep rituals can you come up with that will help you sleep better?
Here are some rituals I’ve created for myself:
I leave my cell phone out of the bedroom.
I actually put it on “do not disturb” at 8:30 p.m. and leave it in the living room or kitchen. I have it programmed that only my parents’, husband’s or kid’s numbers will ring if they call me. They all know it needs to be an emergency after that time if they call or text. By leaving my phone in another room, I won’t be tempted to just look at one more thing and realize half an hour later that I wasted that much time browsing Facebook.
Turn off electronics 1 hour before bedtime.
This includes my laptop. I do have one exception to this. Once a week I meet with a wonderful group of women and we are on zoom from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm sharing our dreams and goals. This group brings a lot of joy into my life so I make the exception. All other nights, by 8:30 pm I try to be done on my electronic devices.
Moving our body is such a great stress and energy release. I try to walk most mornings (weather permitting). During my walk, I listen to audiobooks. It’s a way for me to catch up on any books I haven’t been able to read and move my body at the same time.
Practice mindfulness daily.
This can be journaling, tapping, daily gratitude or meditating. Being more mindful reduces our stress level, which can improve the quality of our sleep.
Reduce my caffeine intake.
I never have caffeine after lunch. Once I learned that 50% of the caffeine is still floating in our brain 7 hours after we consumed it, it was easy for me to no longer have that coffee after lunch. Just that one change has improved my sleep so much. Once in a while I forget about this and have coffee in the afternoon and it reminds me how sensitive I am to caffeine.
Reduce Alcohol intake.
Alcohol too close to bedtime interferes with your REM sleep. REM sleep is when your mental restoration happens. I do like a glass of wine once in a while, but I make sure to stop drinking as early as possible so the alcohol has time to move through my system before I go to bed.
This morning when my alarm went off, I hit snooze. Yup, I hit the snooze button. Not because I was trying to catch an extra 10 minutes of sleep. It’s because I have a ritual of practicing gratitude for 10 minutes each and every morning. I place my hands on my heart and offer gratitude for whatever comes to mind that morning until my alarm goes off again. I started this about a year ago and found it starts my day off on the right path.
My gratitude this morning was about how I struggled with my sleep a few years ago. I am grateful for that experience because it gives me compassion for my clients today. When they tell me they have tried everything and nothing works, I know. I’ve been there. I am also proof that we can take control of our sleep again once we learn the right tools for us.
I am grateful for that very difficult time in my life because it brought EFT/Tapping into my life. I am grateful that I am now able to sleep like a baby most nights and on the nights I struggle, I have the tools to help me get back on track. I am grateful that I get to share this tool with others who are ready and willing to try it for themselves. So yes, I layed there this morning smiling and being so grateful that I lived through that horrible experience I had with lack of sleep.
My sleep troubles started back in late 2015. At first it was just a few nights here and there that I couldn’t sleep. It was gradual and before I realized, I was not sleeping most nights. After about a year of struggling to fall asleep or staying asleep for more than a few hours, I asked my doctor for sleeping pills. Thinking if I could just sleep everything would be better. I didn’t have any tools to help me get the sleep I needed and I wanted a quick fix. After a year of prescription sleeping pills, my body still could not fall asleep. Even with the medication, I averaged about 2 to 3 hours of sleep per night. Definitely not enough to function like a normal human being.
One day, I left my desk at work to go for a walk. I walked by a car that looked exactly like mine. I happened to glance in and notice it was my car. I looked up to see what street I was on and wondered how my car got there. Scary right? I had driven my car that morning, so sleep deprived, parked it in a location I could not remember 4 hours later. I knew I was in trouble because my memory was starting to play tricks on me.
That is when I knew extreme measures needed to be taken. Under my doctor’s guidance, I stopped working. I took the time to start changing my life and I discovered EFT/Tapping.
Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.
Well, it was time for me to change what I was doing because it obviously was not working.
Shortly after I stopped working, I joined a gym. I needed to hire a personal trainer because just the thought of going to the gym was overwhelming. I was not new to the gym or exercising, however during that time, it felt too big to tackle on my own. I found an energy practitioner to help me with my emotions. I discovered tapping and started to use it for myself. I tapped on all those negative emotions I was feeling. First it was all about the stress of my job, the guilt for leaving my workload to my co-workers and the shame that I wasn’t strong enough to be able to continue working. I also started tapping on my stress about not sleeping. Remembering particular nights that were full of frustration about not sleeping and tapping on that frustration. And then one day, I fell asleep on the couch by myself. No sleeping medication. Just my body saying I had removed enough of the stress to fall asleep on it’s own, like it’s designed to do.
Gratitude for a body and mind that knows how to fall asleep again. Gratitude that I am now in a position to be able to share my knowledge of EFT/Tapping with others so they can find sleep again naturally.
There is so much to be grateful for.
To learn how you can use EFT/Tapping to improve the quality of your sleep, please click here.
Let’s talk about sleep and all the benefits we gain from having a good quality restorative night’s sleep.
Sleep is a prescription for rejuvenating your mind and your body. It will also help you boost your immune system, increase your energy reserve, and give you more vitality. It will also help you lose weight and keep the weight off.
Sleep also helps you focus which means being more productive at home or at work. It also helps you learn and retain new information easier and quicker.
Sleep can also help you regulate your emotions, make you feel happier and give you more motivation to accomplish your goals.
Since learning why sleep is so important, I’ve been paying close attention to my own sleep. Making sure I get quality sleep over quantity. The information I learned that was a game changer for me was knowledge about the sleep stages and how they fit into a sleep cycle.
Let’s talk about sleep stages and sleep cycles. I follow Dr. Micheal J Breus, known as the Sleep Doctor, because he provides easy to follow sleep science. In the course “The mastery of sleep” he offered through the Mindvalley online learning platform, I learned the following.
It’s very transitional. It only makes up about 2 percent of the night. This is where your brain goes from wake into sleep. It really doesn’t take very long to happen.
Makes up almost 50% of the night. There are a lot of different things that are going on during stage 2 sleep which are important for your body in terms of basic regulatory maintenance.
Stages 3 and 4
It’s where the good stuff comes in. This is the “wake up and feel great” sleep. This is your physical restoration and this is where the most growth hormones are emitted. Growth hormones are like bringing your car into the body shop and getting the dings and the dents out so you come out feeling great the next day.
This is your mentally restorative sleep. We now know that in REM sleep is where we move information from our short term memory to our long-term memory. It’s kind of interesting, our brain creates an organizational substructure like a filing cabinet. So when a new piece of information comes in during stage 3-4 sleep we take out the stuff we don’t want and then during REM sleep we lock and load into that filing cabinet. Here is where it gets pretty fascinating, when you take a piece of information into your brain, it actually gets electrically connected to other pieces of information. That electrical connection, we think, is what dreams are made of.
When you look at REM sleep, it’s really important to know and understand that not just dreaming is occuring, but also memory is occuring. Again, this is your mentally restorative sleep.
Now that we have learned about sleep stages, how do they fit into sleep cycles?
During one sleep cycle, which lasts approximately 90 minutes, we go through all 5 sleep stages mentioned above. The average person has five sleep cycles per night when they are getting a good quality restorative night’s sleep.
Interestingly, not all sleep cycles are created equal. Dr. Breus mentions that we now know that stage 3-4 sleeps happen at the beginning of the night and stage REM sleep usually happens at the back end of the night. This is why when someone says they only sleep 6 hours, they’ve started to take out that last 2 or 3 last sleep cycles and that is where the memory problem comes in. So if you are a person that says you walk into a room and you can’t remember why you are there, or lose car keys, or can’t remember everything that is on the grocery list, it’s probably because you’ve lopped off that last third of the night which is where REM sleep as a tendency to occur.
Now that I understand sleep on a deeper level, I find it easier to follow my sleep routine to ensure I get that good quality night’s sleep.
Knowledge is power and in this case, knowledge is feeling energized and ready for the day once I open my eyes.
Since this all began, the word I’ve been hearing during meditation or while out on my walks has been “simplicity”. How can we find simplicity in our daily lives now so we can cope with all the stress, overwhelm, uncertainty and fears coming up during this pandemic.
The question I’ve been asking myself is, how can I explain EFT/Tapping in a simple effective way, in order for as many people as possible to be able to use it to reduce their stress level now.
I’ve been offering free online tapping groups (max 4 people) where we talk about the concepts I’ll introduce you to in this blog. We also do some group tapping to deal with the stress each one of us is dealing with at the moment, since it can vary for each of us.
Now, let’s talk about stress. We hear from so many different sources that an increase in stress can increase our cortisol level (the stress hormone in our body), which in turns lowers our immune system. Right now, we need to keep our immune system strong to protect us from the COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Peta Stapelton just released a new study that shows how one hour of EFT/Tapping reduces cortisol levels by 43%.
Yes, I did say 43%. One hour of tapping reduces cortisol level by 43%. In other words, it can help keep our immune system strong.
This study examined changes in stress biochemistry and psychological distress symptoms in 53 participants. The participants were randomly allocated to one of three 60-min group interventions: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), psychoeducation (PE), and no treatment (NT).
Salivary cortisol assays were administered 30 min pre- and post intervention to test cortisol levels.
As you can see from the graphic, the EFT group had a 43% decrease in cortisol, the PE group a 19% reduction in cortisol and the NT group an increase of 2% in cortisol.
In today’s blog, I want to introduce you to a few easy ways to do EFT/Tapping as a self-care tool in order for you to benefit from tapping, even if you are not familiar already with this energy modality. We will discuss silent tapping, tap and rant, as well as orienting tapping.
But first, you need to know the tapping points. You also need to know what I mean by “a round of tapping”. It’s simple, tap on each point 7 to 10 times with the tip of your fingers and that is considered “a round” of tapping.
When tapping on these points, we are tapping on the end points of the meridian lines. Since they are equal on both sides of our body, it doesn’t matter if we tap on both sides at the same time, or just on one side. As well, it doesn’t matter which point we start with. What’s important is to keep tapping until we start to feel some relief.
Because of the recommendation not to touch our face during this pandemic, you can modify the tapping points and still get amazing results. This allows us to still tap if we are not comfortable touching our face. Or if we are in a situation where washing our hands is not possible, (example: sitting in the car once you leave the grocery store and need to reduce your stress level immediately.)
Now let’s talk about these 3 different ways to use tapping for yourself in the moment you need to reduce your stress level.
This is the most basic one. There are times when we feel dysregulated emotionally and we don’t know why. It could also be that we can’t name the emotions. We just know that we feel “off”. In this case, my go to is silent tapping. You simply tap through all the points while breathing, tuning into whatever is coming up for you. It might take a few rounds before you feel yourself calming down enough to be able to put words to what you are feeling.
Try it. Tune in to how you feel right now, rate it from 0 to 10. Write that number down. Try tapping 2 rounds silently while breathing. Once you are done, rate how you are feeling again from 0 to 10. For most people, this helps calm them a little without doing any deep digging to figure out what is going on with them. The point of this is just to reduce the stress we are feeling in the moment so we can keep our cortisol levels low.
Tap and rant
This one I use often. Whenever I am feeling dysregulated emotionally and I can’t figure out why, I just start tapping and ranting. It feels good to speak it out loud while tapping on the points since its release that negative energy we are holding on to.
Here is an example of what it could look like, but you need to use your own words with what you are feeling.
Top of the head: don’t know what is happening right now
Inside eyebrow: I just feel off and….
Side of eye: maybe it’s because I can’t go to work
Under eye: maybe it’s because the kids are always looking for more food
Under nose: which means I need to constantly be cooking and cleaning
Collar bone: yup, that’s it. I am tired of all this extra cooking.
Under arm: feels like that is all I am doing since we’ve been home
Then back to top of the head and keep ranting and tapping through the points until you feel calmer. Once you are clamer, you can put a name to that emotion and be more specific with what is really bothering you.
The purpose of orienting tapping is to bring you back into the present moment. My favourite time to do this one is right before I go to bed since it calms down my mind and I can fall asleep easily afterwards.
You need to do one round of tapping for each sense. It can look something like this:
Round 1: What do you see? Find an object you can focus a soft gaze on. Start noticing the color, the size or anything about this object. Tap on each point 7 to 10 times while you name the different aspects of that object. Example: I see a painting on the wall. There are trees in the painting. The frame is brown with a white mat. etc…
Round 2: What can you hear in the room you are in? Is it the hum of the refrigerator? Is there a dog barking? Children playing? A clock ticking?
Round 3: What can you touch? I usually focus on the feel of my hair when doing the point on top of my head. You can feel your skin on the face points. You can feel the temperature of the room on your skin. Feel your feet on the floor. The fabric of your shirt when you are on the collar bone point.
Round 4: What can you smell? Is there a food smell in the house? Or do you have essential oils diffusing?
Round 5: What can you taste? Is it the coffee you are drinking? Or do you taste the toothpaste you used not long ago? Or is there still left over flavour from that piece of chocolate you just ate?
Most people feel calmer after doing the orienting tapping. You can do it as many times as you want in order to find calmness in your mind.
“When your sleep becomes short, you will gain weight.” When I heard those words while listening to the audio book “Why We Sleep” from Matthew Walker PhD, it was yet another reason that validated for me why sleep is so important in order to feel good, inside and out.
Here is what I discovered.
There are two hormones in our body that control appetite.
Leptin signals a sense of feeling full. When the level of leptin circulating in the body is high, our appetite is blunted and we don’t feel like eating.
Ghrelin triggers a strong sensation of hunger. When the level of ghrelin increases, so does our desire to eat.
An imbalance to either of these hormones can trigger increased eating that result in increased body weight.
Over the past 30 years, Dr. Eve Van Cauter (a colleague of Dr. Mathew Walker) did some research on the link between sleep and appetite. Here is a snapshot that really spoke to me from the book.
Dr. Van Cauter investigated whether one week of short sleep was enough to disrupt levels of either leptin or ghrelin or both. She discovered that individuals were far more ravenous when sleeping four to five hours a night than they were sleeping the full recommended 7 to 9 hours. And, it only took until the second day of short sleep for participants to feel hungrier and have their appetite increase. She found that inadequate sleep decreased the concentration of leptin (I’m full feeling) and increased the levels of ghrelin (I’m still hungry feeling). The result was that participants didn’t feel satisfied by food when they were short on sleep.
Trying to simplify in my mind what I had just read: when people sleep less, they eat more. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, you are fighting a losing battle if you don’t get adequate sleep. WOW!!!! No wonder it’s so hard for so many people to achieve success with losing weight.
Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep will restore a system of impulse control within your brain, putting the appropriate brakes on potentially excessive eating. It will help you control your body weight.
When we sleep less, it’s not just that we eat more, it’s the choice of food we make. The cravings for sweets, carbohydrate rich foods and salty snacks all increased by 30 to 40% when sleep was reduced by several hours each night.
Lack of sleep not only impacts our food choices. The less an individual sleeps, the less energy he or she feels they have, and the more sedentary and less willing to exercise they are. Inadequate sleep is the perfect recipe for weight gain: greater calorie intake, lower calorie expenditure.
In summary: short sleep will increase hunger and appetite, compromise impulse control within the brain, increase food consumption , decrease feelings of food satisfaction after eating and prevent effective weight loss when dieting.