Create healing through better rest and sleep
In our ferociously busy and stressful culture, people often feel sleep is something to add to their to-do list – or something to avoid because they’re too busy getting stuff done.
This happens even though they know sleep supports human life (everything from cognitive ability, stable weight, cardio- and immune function, disease prevention, healing, emotional resonance, and social interactions).
Still, if they could, they’d just buy sleep from the store rather than experiencing it at night. It’s a mindset that interferes with getting the rest they need.
Because sleep isn’t a thing. It’s a process of moving from daily doing to nightly renewal. A key aspect of that process is often forgotten: moving into deep rest. Deep rest provides emotional, physical, and mental health benefits, on a continuum with sleep, and it also welcomes sleep.
And if you’re a practitioner, when you support your patients’ need to rest and sleep, your healing work becomes more effective.
Talking about rest and sleep
You don’t have to be a sleep specialist to explore how sleep and rest supports healing.
When I work with my clients, before we dive into specifics of sleep hygiene, we create a broader perspective on their nights. These questions can also be useful as you talk with patients:
- Do you feel you get enough sleep? Do you feel refreshed after a night of sleep or are you sleepy in the daytime?
- Do you sleep at regular times that fit with your daily schedule?
- During the past 2 weeks, about how many nights did you have loud snoring?
- How often do you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep? What do you do when you can’t sleep?
- What’s your experience of resting at night?
These conversations create a meaningful context for questions about sleep habits, identifying obstacles to rest and sleep, and pointing to needed sleep studies for sleep apnea or hypopnea.
Relationship to sleep and rest
The conversation also sets the stage for a question that often surprises my clients: What is their relationship to sleep and rest?
Sleep seems just something that happens, or at least should happen. But the relationship makes a huge difference in the ability to let go, renew, and welcome sleep.
For instance, many people chase sleep. They monitor how long they’ve been up, whether they’re close to sleep yet, and how tired they’ll feel the next day. That keeps the body, mind, and emotions alert – the opposite of sleep.
The shift comes as clients understand the power of deep rest. Deep rest (like sleep) renews cognitive ability, cardio- and immune function, disease prevention, healing, mood, and emotional resilience. And it opens the door to sleep when you don’t chase it.
How to help yourself and your patients
It’s powerful for patients to hear you talk about sleep and rest. Most practitioners skip this conversation – time is at a premium – but it helps your patients tune into the holistic nature of their healing.
A second way to help your patients want to get more rest and sleep is to ask them to choose a couple of sleep hygiene tips to practice. Small, doable steps help create a pathway to letting go at night.
Third, suggest they find a way to have a somatic connection with their body. Not to sleep already! but to have a mindful understanding of the place that’s their home, the place that will lead them to rest and sleep.
This short awareness is one way: Take a moment to tap into what’s real in your body close eyes, lower gaze: your feet on the floor… the air on your skin… changes as you breathe… the sounds and silences you hear. Nothing to do, just connecting with the body. When you’re ready to comeback, here in this home of your body.
Find deeper connection and healing
When you talk with your patients about rest and sleep, you support the healing you already do with them in powerful ways.
Let me know if I can help. I teach the 7 pathways to rest, ways to move through obstacles like a chattering mind, not being in the body, difficult emotions, feeling isolated, and getting aligned with life. I offer online and in-person coaching, small groups, and video training on sleep issues caused by politics. If people are interested in learning more, they can sign up for a free consultation to find the path to restful nights. Learn more about my perspectives on sleep and rest in this podcast.
Even in a frantically busy world, help your patients find the gifts of health by resting into who they really are.