Do you live a fast paced life, enjoy relatively good health, but can’t fall asleep at night? Have you been to see the doctor about your insomnia, and all they have suggested is to meditate, relax or take a sleeping tablet? Do you feel like there must be another solution, but you just haven’t found it? Read on, because there is one.
OUR FAST-PACED LIVES HAVE REDUCED OUR BRAINWAVE FLEXIBILITY
We are all very busy in today’s society – constantly getting things done, achieving and “doing.” Not just that, we are doing things quickly. Everything has a quick turn around time. We are expected to deliver results quickly, respond to messages straight away, and squeeze so much into our day. We are also working longer days, and concentrating for more of the day, every day. So what impact does this have on us and what does it have to do with sleep? This fast pace of life, as well as the pressure in our lives, has resulted in a reduction in our brainwave flexibility.
Simply put: during the day when we concentrate, we are in a beta brainwave state. When we relax we go into the slower alpha brainwave state. When we are deeply relaxed (almost asleep) we go into theta. If the brain cannot transition between these states easily, we lose our ability to be able to shift gears, slow down our brainwaves, and enter the delta brainwave state of sleep.
WE NEED TO LEARN TO SWITCH OFF AND ‘CLOSE DOWN THE TABS’ IN OUR MIND LIKE A COMPUTER
Brainwave flexibilty is critical to be able to get to sleep. Not only are we working longer and harder, we’re spending more time ‘doing’, concentrating and flitting between tasks (checking Facebook, typing on our laptops in our spare time etc) which means we are in a beta brainwave state for a much longer period of time than we used to be, but we are also relaxing less. As a result we now spend much less time in the slower more relaxed brainwave states that help to maintain our brainwave flexibility. Are you familiar with that ‘notification brain’ feeling when you’re always primed for the next update or message? Do you ever feel like your brain has too many tabs open like a computer? Just like a computer, our brains need to be cleared out and reset regularly.
STRESSFUL PERIODS CAN ACT LIKE TRAUMA TO THE BRAIN
Given most of us today are already predisposed to this, all we need is to be exposed to a short intense period of stress, or a trauma e.g. a relationship breakup, or a difficult manager at work, and our already fragile brain then acts as if it has suffered an injury. It just doesn’t remember how to move easily through the brainwave states to get into the natural sleep brainwave state. The brain’s ability to shift between the brainwave states atrophies – like a muscle that is not used. If it then experiences a period of intense stress or trauma, this impact is intensified, and significant sleep challenges can result.
IS IT JUST ABOUT RELAXING AND MEDITATING?
Unfortunately, no. The main reason meditating and relaxing can help with improving sleep is because it can get us into a slower brainwave state. But here’s the thing: for people who have lost their brainwave flexibility, it is extremely difficult to get into the slower brainwave state required for meditation or other forms of relaxation to be helpful. This is why meditation simply isn’t effective for so many people – if they’re unable to switch off their racing mind, it will prevent them from being able to meditate and relax.
But there is hope! Working with a skilled practitioner to restore your brainwave flexibility will re-establish your ability to effectively begin meditating or relaxing on your own.