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.
I am often asked how can EFT/Tapping help someone find sleep again naturally. That is a big question that I will try my best to answer in this blog. Every person struggling with sleep has different circumstances. I would advise anyone who can’t sleep to first check with their doctor to rule out any medical condition that needs to be addressed.
For most people, myself included, we live an extremely busy lifestyle. This busy lifestyle creates a lot of stress in our bodies and minds. If we are unable to process that stress and release it, it can disrupt our sleep pattern.
How many of you can relate to a scenario similar to this one?
You had a really busy day at work running off your feet trying to accomplish a very big to-do list. You even skipped your lunch break so you could get a few more things done. You then rush home and need to make supper, take care of your kids and bring them to their activities. You need to find time to clean the house and do laundry. Don’t forget to try to fit in exercise or any other kind of self care for yourself. It’s 11:00 pm at night and you realize that there are still 10 things on your to-do list that you didn’t get a chance to even think about today and you didn’t take any time for your own self care. Your body is exhausted, yet your mind is fully awake. It’s starting a mental to-do list for tomorrow. Knowing you need to get up early you decide to finish your list tomorrow and go to bed. You try to distract yourself by either watching tv or browsing Facebook to help you fall asleep.
Once in bed, what happens?
Your mind keeps going because it’s not done processing all the things it needed to get done today. It’s not ready to shut off. It is remembering the other 10 things you didn’t write down on your list because you forgot about them and you are now remembering them. You tell your mind to stop worrying about it and you will do it tomorrow, however it’s winning this fight and you stay awake half the night feeling frustrated that you can’t sleep. You know you’ll be even more exhausted tomorrow. This feeling of dread overtakes you as you think of how you need to perform tomorrow but you already know you are going to wake up exhausted.
Day after day, this cycle continues.
You feel stressed and overwhelmed but you just keep going thinking tomorrow will be better. But the accumulation of these unprocessed emotions fills up your metaphoric cup. You function on caffeine to make it through the day. Your mind and body is working hard to process all the stress and it’s affecting your sleep.
Without sleep, we can’t function properly.
Usually by the time someone has stopped sleeping, it’s years of accumulated stress. It might be that they have one specific event that happened that caused their cup to overflow and they believe it’s the reason they aren’t sleeping. They aren’t entirely wrong. However, if they weren’t carrying all that extra unprocessed emotions from the past, they might have been able to deal with this additional event and still continue sleeping.
This is where people get even more overwhelmed and don’t know how to start using EFT/tapping to help improve their sleep. I’ll be really honest here and say it’s not a simple one session process. You first need to decide YOU want to make changes so you can start sleeping again. YOU need to find time to schedule your self care in your calendar, and that includes time to do your own tapping. Once you are ready for these changes, here is how I suggest starting.
First, start tapping with what is happening in the present moment. I often hear people talk about their lack of sleep all day long. They are so focused on this lack of sleep and it’s causing them stress just thinking into the future nights coming and knowing they aren’t going to be able to sleep. I ask my clients “just thinking about going to bed tonight, what negative emotions are coming up for you? Here are a few examples of a script we might use to be specific to their issue:
Even though, when I think about going to bed tonight, I feel anxious that I might lay there and not be able to sleep, I deeply and completely accept who I am.
Even though I feel this dread knowing that my mind won’t shut off when I try to sleep tonight, I deeply and completely accept who I am.
You need to keep tapping until you feel better about the thought of going to sleep tonight.
Afterwards, you need to switch your focus on a recent night where you struggled to sleep. What was the reason? What do you feel about that?
Even though last night I was awake from 3 am to 5 am unable to sleep because my neighbor came home with his loud vehicle, I feel this frustration because I was really tired and wanted to sleep. I deeply and completely accept who I am.
Even though I remember my husband snoring really loud last night, I feel this resentment that he gets to sleep well while I lay there awake listening to him. I deeply and completely accept who I am.
Once you’ve processed the emotions about your lack of sleep, then you need to start processing the emotions about your daily stress. If you take time everyday to process the stress that has happened in your day then it will be easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
It’s not an overnight process. It might take a few weeks or even a few months to find sleep again. It takes time to deal with the accumulation of stress we have that is keeping us awake. I like to break it down in 5 different areas that can affect us and work through each one with my clients. These areas are family, work, money, health and spirituality. Start with the area that you are feeling the most stressed about and work through those events/situations.
I also recommend working with a practitioner. A skilled practitioner can help you find events in your past that might still be contributing to your lack of sleep today. I wrote this blog https://tappingintosleep.com/why-do-we-resist-going-to-sleep/ about a client of mine (with her permission of course). She was still resisting going to sleep and it was due to some childhood events where she was made to go to bed at 6:00 pm when all her friends were outside playing. She still resisted going to bed as an adult because she didn’t want to miss out on anything.
Each one of you has a different reason why you aren’t sleeping. Once you find your reason, then you can tailor your tapping to your own specific issues and hopefully sleep will come back naturally for you.
I was walking down the street about a year ago; it was during my lunch break. I had my headphones in my ears and listening to a podcast of some sort, I believe it had something to do with finding abundance in your life. This is when a co-worker saw me and said that she had never seen anyone walking down the street looking so peaceful! That is when I knew my life was right again.
Let’s rewind to April 10, 2017. The worst day of my life at that time, but looking back on it today, the best day of my life. I’ll explain the best part later.
Here is the worst part.
It was 4 am and I started crying. I couldn’t stop. My husband just held me all night and then drove me to my doctor’s office the next morning. I could not function physically and/or emotionally. I had lost all sensation in my hands and feet. I was scared and didn’t know what was happening to me.
Diagnosis: Brain tumor? Why else would lose the sensation in your hands and feet. Not according to my doctor. It was STRESS from work/ life and my body was telling me to slow down and breath. I had not had a good night sleep in about 2 years, taking two sleeping pills and only sleeping a maximum of 2 hours. I was exhausted and couldn’t find a way out of this mess I had created in my life.
Prescription: She wrote “off work due to stress for 2 months”. This was just the beginning of my time off, we would re-evaluate in 2 months to see how I was doing. I needed to go home, rest and find myself again. She did not prescribe any medication such as anti-anxiety or anti-depressants because she trusted that I would find my way out once I was able to rest. I needed to continue the sleeping pills for now, but start weaning myself off once I was able to fall asleep by myself again. I set an appointment for 2 months later for a recheck.
Feeling completely loss and helpless, what did I do?
I came home and cried. I was not prepared to deal with stress and I didn’t know how to cope. I had panic attacks numerous times a day and could not even go to the grocery store by myself. I had never experienced anything like this and I considered myself as someone who was very strong emotionally. In the last 2 years of my life, all self-care I used to do (exercise, eating properly, hanging out with family and friends) went out the window so I could work more just to stay afloat in my day job. Work was my number 1 priority.
During my first month of “stress leave”, I repainted the inside of my entire house. I needed to keep busy. I started listening to the Hay House summit to keep my mind occupied. I felt so much shame and guilt for leaving my co-workers behind to pick up my workload. It was during those days that I heard Nick Ortner speak about “tapping”. Being curious in nature, I started researching what this “tapping” thing was. I always believe in energy work and tapping sounded like another energy modality I could try.
How did I try tapping?
For two weeks, I would drive to the Bonshaw trail and find a quiet spot to sit by the river. I would tap, even if I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. It couldn’t do any harm. Right? I learned that EFT is really forgiving. I would bring up the emotion of shame or guilt that I was feeling about my inability to go to work and I followed the instructions by tapping on all the energy points on my body. Within 2 weeks, I was no longer having panic attack. I will always remember the first time I was able to sleep without a sleeping pill. I had a nap on the couch and when I woke up; I realized I had fallen asleep by myself, without the help of a pill. I knew then that I was on the right track and to keep doing this “tapping” thing.
I started exercising again and I also started meditation. Walks on the beach became part of my routine that summer while I recuperated. Once I returned to work 5 months later, I made the move to a less stressful position. I was seeing life completely differently and was not willing to let the stress of a job/life get to me again like that. Self-care was my number 1 priority.
Why do I say it’s the best day of my life?
Because if I had not reached such a low point in my life to bounce back from, I am not sure I would have listened to my “wake-up call”. I am not sure I would have had the courage to follow my dream to become an EFT Practitioner coach in order to share this wonderful tool with other people. I started removing the things in my life that caused me stress and then I started following my dreams. I started creating Vision Boards. I found an EFT Level 1 and Level 2 course I attended, which was the first step towards my certification. Then I went completely out of my comfort zone and contacted EFT tapping Training Institute and asked Dr. Craig Wiener to be my mentor. One of the best decisions of my life! And while following this process, I tapped regularly on any fears that would come up. I completed my Certification as an EFT Practitioner Coach and can’t wait to see where life will take me next.
I wake up every day thanking the Universe for giving me this lesson in my life. Without it, I would not be who I am today. Walking down the street that day and having that co-worker comment on how peaceful I looked, I knew that I had found myself again.