Grazia Magazine Sleep Coach

A recent feature on overcoming insomnia in Grazia Magazine Sept 2019

‘Back to the Forest’

Become more connected to nature to improve your sleep. Latest research confirms what most of us already know, that when we get outside we become happier and more positive people. Getting closer to nature with eco-therapy is showing extraordinary results for wellness, well-being, and also helps you to re-discover how to sleep better.

Simply by being in nature, can be the antidote for all the negative effects from fast modern life.

‘Imagine how amazing a few days at Forest Holidays could be,” the advert reads… ‘Surround yourself with nature in an eco-sensitive cabin in the heart of some the world’s most beautiful forests. Wonder in the woods, and even unwind your very own hot tub.’

The Japanese word for the healing way of the forest is ‘Shinrin-yoku’, forest therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest, Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the atmosphere of the forest” or ‘forest bathing’. This was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become the cornerstone of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Forest medicine is using nature to heal yourself.

Interestingly, the ancient Japanese religion called ‘Shinto’, which believes that the spirits are not separate from nature, they are actually within it.  

This modern approach of immersing yourself in woodland ‘without your phone’, in order to heal your body and mind, has expanded into the West. It seems that now in greater numbers middle-class families are acquiring plots of land in woodland, so that they can interact with nature in their own retreats at the weekend. In Sweden you can take up residence in isolated glasshouses that measure just large enough to put a double bed in a glass box. No electronics, usually situated by a river or a lake in a forest. In the middle of wild countryside and thousands of lakes, you can visit and experience a dramatic physiological shift as you immersively enter the natural world, as your stress level drop by 70% after just three days, and studies have shown that lifestyle close to nature can improve well-being.

Dr Cecilia Stenfors has been awarded a three-year grant from the Swedish Research Council to study the role of environmental and biological factors in reducing stress levels and fatigue. “A lot of people spend a great amount of their wake time indoors and detached from natural environments, which prevents them from the benefits that contact with nature can have on wellbeing and performance,” she says. “Research has been consistent in showing that even brief contact with nature for short moments — or even exposure to nature-like stimuli — can improve one’s mood by increasing positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions and thoughts, and make people feel more relaxed and de-stressed.”

Many studies have found that everything from the soundscape of water and birdsong to woody and grassy scents improve our sense of wellbeing, but Stenfors says that “real nature seems to have greater effects than artificial nature” — so you can turn off your smartphone’s birdsong app and listen to real nature. Benefits include “improvements in mental performance, such as working memory” and tasks with high demands on “executive or focused attention”.

A 2015 study looked at brain scans of people who had taken either a 90-minute walk in a natural environment or an urban environment. Those who went on a nature stroll not only felt better but had decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with the rumination of negative thought.

We become happier and more positive people if we get outside in the sunlight.

The irony is that most of us spend less time than ever in tune with our natural surroundings. Totting up the time you are cocooned within four walls with a roof above your head can be a wake-up call. A survey of 1,000 adults found that they spent, on average, only 8 per cent of their weekdays — less than two hours — outside. Last year another poll revealed that three quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates.

Even small changes can bring huge effects.

Some doctors are now taking the concept of eco-therapy seriously, prescribing outdoor activity — and that’s everything from a walk to a bit of gardening — as a means of improving mild to moderate depression. “Our own findings suggest that 94 per cent of adults felt that nature benefited their mental health,” he says. “Its effects are indisputable.”

Sue Waite, an associate professor of education and a researcher at Plymouth University. :“For the mildly depressed, regular exposure to the outdoors and in sociable groups was a viable alternative to taking a pill to raise mood as it provided a real boost.”

Waite says that research suggests that 30 to 60 minutes spent outdoors is a good dosage for mood boosting, but for a serious detox, a 72-hour get-away is optimal. But you don’t have to head for snow-capped mountains or pine forests — even a trip to your local park or municipal golf cause can do you good. “Our aim should be to reintroduce nature to our lives as much as we can,” she says. “Stress hormones, such as cortisol, plummet when we are outside with nature; happy hormones, such as serotonin, are enhanced. We become happier and more positive people if we get outside.”

So whether you visit a luxury sleep retreat to learn how to optimize your sleep, and to relax and unwind, or you explore ways to get ‘closer to nature’, one thing is for sure, these ideas are food for thought, and we can dream about, finding a wonderful place to get closer to nature.

Get 100% sleep optimised by re-connecting with nature. Photo by Christian Regg

As always, I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten aka The Sleep Coach

If you snooze, you lose!

Three rules for effective weight loss:

1, Always wait at least 90 minutes after eating before you go to bed, and if you can eat earlier that is even better. A research study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that eating easily digestible carbs 4 hours before bedtime led people to fall asleep faster, because it gives your blood sugar a chance to balance out before sleep.

So eat that Mediterranean salad, (with a few carbs) earlier in the evening so that your blood sugar has a chance to recover, so that your quality of your sleep will become deeper. 

*Note: If you need to eat a light snack before bed make sure that it’s high-fat, and low carb, such as avocados, a few nuts such as almonds, a small piece of dark chocolate, or perhaps even try eating a few small fresh tomatoes, before preparing for bed.

2, Make sure that you have a balanced healthy diet with long gaps between the meals to help you to digest what is eaten. Sip water between your meals to help this process. Avoid all foods that say they are low-fat; these are foods that have been interfered with and usually even filled with hidden sugar, and sometimes palm oil and so forth. Stay natural, eat natural and then become naturally slim and healthy, with even your skin quality improving, so it even slows down the ageing process!

And make sure that you get enough sleep (8 hours each night ideally), don’t compromise, being sleep deprived reduces your leptin hormone levels, which then increases unwanted feelings of hunger all day. Fact.

Enjoy the gaps between your meals, hydrate regularly throughout the day, and get enough oxygen in your bloodstream by taking regular walks whenever you can. This will help your body to burn calories whilst at the same time giving you an oxygenated mind full of ideas throughout the day.

3, Start your day with smoothies, but go more for the green smoothies with loads of leafy vegetables, spinach, kale, cucumber, avocado, kelp, maybe some blueberries and strawberries but keep fruit to a minimum as the point of this mixture is the focus on green and to not to cause a spike in your insulin.

Also a handful of almonds or some protein, perhaps a boiled egg or a fried or poached egg and some fresh smoked salmon on a piece of rye bread (*if you’re not vegan or vegetarian), so that you are turning your body into a fat burning machine instead of eating foods that turn you into a fat storing machine like toast, fruit smoothies, cereal with milk, bagels, pancakes, processed sugar, maple syrup and oatmeal, which will all cause your insulin to spike straightaway in the morning, for all the fats to be stored instead of burned!

And recognise that drinking alcohol is one of the classic sleep architecture destroyers. In other words drinking alcohol causes us to have poor sleep which affects those hormones and makes us want to eat more again. This is why most people who’ve got a hangover crave all the wrong foods for losing weight; they just want to eat carbs, fatty foods and processed foods, all of which sabotage becoming slim and healthy. 

All forms of alcohol contain high amounts of ‘empty calories’.  

For example: just one glass of wine has the equivalent calorie value of packet of crisps

So you have been warned!

The most important reason for not using alcohol in the evenings is that it can seriously ruin your sleep quality. So even though alcohol has been shown to improve sleep quality if used very occasionally in low amounts, and earlier in the evening, it does in fact ruin your ‘sleep architecture’.

REM sleep is significantly disrupted by alcohol, which means that you won’t be able to achieve deep sleep, and it damages dream sleep REM, so that your brain and body won’t have the chance to fully recover and rejuvenate from the day before. Alcohol can also affect your memory, as (both) NREM deep sleep, and REM ‘dream’ sleep are damaged by alcohol. It also causes you to become dehydrated, and wake more frequently in the night; even if you drink enough water before bed you will probably be going to the bathroom all night for one reason or another, and in the morning feel fairly ghastly, needing caffeine, headache pills, and all the ‘wrong’ foods to try to ‘kick-start’ your metabolism, and hold back the mental fog in your mind.

By getting enough good sleep, you are increasing your memory processing. This means that your daily short-term memories and experiences get converted into long-term memory. Eight hours of sleep will actually make you become smarter and perform better.

The five pillars of successful weight loss are:

1, Only eat natural ‘real’ foods

2, Take regular daily exercise

3, Get eight hours of regular sleep

4, Avoid alcohol if you want to lose weight

5, Last meal of the day must be two hours before bed

By following these five simple suggestions you are literally guaranteeing yourself a slim and healthy body, as well as a longer and healthier life.

So the secret for successful weight loss, is to increase your sleep, eat the healthiest foods, last meal two hours before bed, and take lots of regular exercise.

As always, I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten aka The Sleep Coach

What is Clean Sleeping?

‘Clean Sleeping’ was most recently popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow, in her Goop: Clean Beauty book, which is (mostly) based on sensible and sound sleep hygiene rules and principles.

The essence of clean sleeping, Is basically a ‘natural drug-free approach’ to regularly get the best night of sleep, boosting your wellness, and to achieve optimal health and daytime performance.

To achieve this, you have to follow a series of basic rules:

  1. No drinking caffeine after 2pm.
  2. No electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
  3. Set a strict bedtime and follow it even through the weekend.
  4. Keep the bedroom dark and cool.
  5. Buy a copper pillow.

The basics of this list except (5) are the fundamentals of any good sleep coaching system.

This is not a bad place to begin. The fundamentals are here, although the importance of getting blue light in the morning preferably from the actual sky, with it’s bright full spectrum of light (Lux from the sun), seems to be missing. However I note with great interest reading a book before bed is considered to be the best approach (I would say only for some), but I would also suggest that you get a lower level brightness lightbulb that ideally points only onto the page of the book without spilling directly into your own eyes as you read, or a dimmed (night setting) kindle or tablet.  Or perhaps you might like to practice some relaxation techniques in bed instead.

It’s a classic sleep coaching advice to step away from caffeine after 2pm is good. 11-12pm is better!

Zero the electronic devices of any kind I would say ideally at least 90 minutes before going to bed. A minor tweek difference.

Ideally fall asleep at the same time every night, good, (although occasionally you should be allowed to be bad, and have some fun).  Alcohol also fragments and reduces both your deep and REM (dream) sleep. After a night off, you’ll need to get back to the strict rule of regularity. Consistency is absolutely the key.

No alcohol before bed, or a glass of wine with dinner as long as it’s early. Then ideally drink water!  I would add that most liquids should ideally be consumed in the daytime, and less at night.

Using a copper infused pillow, may be a good idea? However, I am skeptical, but if it works for you, you’re an early adopter. There are plenty of copper infused pillars on Amazon, but always read the reviews first. A good pillow is definitely an essential item, but I would say that more important is getting ‘enough’ sleep (7-9 hrs), combined with a natural healthy ‘drug-free’ lifestyle and diet, this will give you the most incredible skin, slow down the ageing process, and will give you a sparkle in your eye, and clear mind ready for each brand new day!

Unlike some sleep experts and sleep coaches, I cannot really condone the use of smart devices or any other form of electronics in the bedroom. Even though there’s some great sleep apps out there, unless they can help you to relax and fall asleep, or can monitor/track your sleep from outside the bedroom unobtrusively. Perhaps linked to your wearable tech such as Oura ring, Fitbit, Garmin or even Circadia Sleep Tracker that are seamlessly invisible, monitoring your sleep, for analysis the next day. Other than these, I would generally rule no electronics in the bedroom. No TVs, computers, devices. Stay 100% natural in the bedroom. Keep water by the bed to stay hydrated, particularly if you are a mouth breather, but only sip in the night as needed.

The cool dark bedroom rule is classic non-negotiable, I would add the importance of a good supply of oxygen perhaps leave a bedroom window slightly open an inch in winter, and obviously more so in the summer. 

I also want to point out the importance of a balanced healthy diet, including ideally in the evenings some form of carbohydrate that keeps your blood sugar steady during the night, protein clean meals at night time cause your blood sugar is to drop in the middle of the night during a sleep causing you to wake.  So many American diets these days are afraid to even mentioning the word ‘carbohydrate’, Carbohydrates help achieve good sleep. Fact. They are not evil.

If you’re frightened of carbohydrates get more exercise regularly.

Taking regular exercise ideally in the mornings, or afternoons, or early evenings also but not late night. Fact.

The rule of setting a strict bedtime even at weekends is definitely something that I would dispute, particularly if you’re a sleep deprived Monday to Friday parent, or recovering from a particularly good night out on Friday or Saturday night, as the latest sleep research shows that you can make up for the loss of sleep over the following days and/or take an afternoon nap for up to 30 minutes before 4pm to make up the difference.

I’m a great believer in the 80/20 principle, to that means doing everything right but is covered here, but avoid perfectionism.  Allow yourself the 20% freedom to do what ever you want, sleep well, but live a life without regrets, have fun, and then get back to the plan. 

Finally, I’m pretty sure that I will never own a copper pillow.

I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Bedtime books that help children to sleep better

Kids love to fall asleep after a good story

Sleep experts and child psychologists have known of the years the importance of bedtime rituals. They encourage a seamless transition from the playful day to quiet slumbers. The bedtime story is probably the most potent bedtime sleep aid for children.

Here is a selection of my top five books for parental reading for small ones.

The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

One of the best books for young children in recent years which is topped the Amazon bestsellers list is called ‘The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep’. It’s been written by a Swedish psychologist structured with a focus on design to help to all children into a deep sleep. it encourages the parental reader to vary their voice allowing and leading their child or children into slumber.

How  Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen

This is a really enjoyable way to have some fun and make your child snigger before bed. You can’t go wrong with this amusing book that helps them to laugh at themselves and at dinosaurs!

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse

 A wonderful book about the rituals that we as parents create for our children. This book will appeal to parents all over the world, as it will remind you of what it was like when you were little.

Interrupting Chickenby David Ezra Stein

 This is a wonderful story of children who like to discuss and go through the story and sometimes get so excited if forgotten that the meant to be getting ready to fall asleep. This book is also good for parents who may wish their reading-age children to do role-play, as is great fun taking the roles, including their role as the over eager, interrupting chicken.

 The Sleep Bookby Dr Zeus

 The book begins with a yawning little bug,  and continues as all of Dr Zeus’s books, imaginative classic. And this one is particularly good to read and listened to at bedtime. The only challenge is for parents to stay awake through the entire book without yawning themselves!

Dreamy locations for better sleep

All over the world there is a rapidly growing market for dreamy locations to improve your sleep. Sleep hotels, sleep clinics, sleep retreats, luxury spas dedicated to better sleep are opening up, often in remote or unusual places.

While millions of us are living our usually sleep deprived lives, there is an ever growing number of people willing to travel far and wide for a dream destination, or rather a location where sleep and dreams are the main event, dream vacations for optimal sleep. This is literally the stuff of dreams!

Here are some examples of the lengths that some people can go in their search for better sleep (at a cost of thousands £££££) whereas mostly all they need to do is to follow all the recommendations for sleep hygiene. However some of these dream locations do sound rather wonderful!

I was reading about an example of this as I flicked through a magazine in my waiting-room at my dental surgery. There it was, a sleep programme from Six Senses, the luxury spa hotel group.

The article said they’d created a coordinated sleep programme with the help of the renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Breus who is a member of the Six Senses Integrated Wellness Board. He has pioneered the sleep programme which consists of being met as you arrive by their sleep ambassador, who will assess your sleep requirements and help you to choose the right pillow from a vast array of options for every sleep position imaginable. That’s just the beginning. You would benefit from two years of scientific sleep research at the hotel, using high-tech sleep monitoring gadgetry, touch of a button blackout blinds that descend beautifully, enjoy sheets, duvet cover and pillowcases made from moisture-wicking organic eucalyptus and cotton. You have the choice of wearing bamboo-fibre pyjamas for breathability and comfort, although you could sleep naked. There’s a jasmine spray for spritzing in the bedroom and a variety of relaxing extras to help you to achieve a state of deep calm. Beside the bed is a little Book of Wellness, and earplugs and eye masks for the light and sound sensitive are provided.

Their beds and mattresses are all from the British bedding company, NaturalMat, hand made from natural fibres as the name suggests. All the mattresses are wired to track your sleep, with a pad underneath the mattress connecting to a device called a Withings Aura that will measure every aspect of your sleep. Throughout the night it will record the levels of your sleep cycles: light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. It will also record your average heart rate and temperature, monitor the noise and light and temperature of the room, and track your physiology as the lights in the bedroom dim with red light and the room is bathed in ambient sounds.

A word of warning! When visiting these wonderful sweet retreats, make sure that you are not ruining the experience by drinking too much alcohol if any. Enjoy eating a delicious meal, but remain ideally alcohol and caffeine free, crystal clear mineral water, and not eating too late or too much, should guarantee you a good night’s sleep, as long as you don’t stay up too late over-stimulating your brain with technology, news feeds and so on. The whole idea is to learn how to improve sleep, not to remain sleep deprived. The sleep hygiene list is the key wherever you travel will increase the chances of wonderful sleep every night.

In the mornings, you’ll awaken and after breakfast, you’ll be encouraged to get some sunlight first thing in the morning whatever the weather, participate in morning yoga classes, and later on your sleep stats will be assessed by their sleep expert.

You will next undergo a full health assessment, your bio markers will be measured for sleep, serotonin levels measured, BP, heart rate and variability, cholesterol, adrenaline and cortisol levels (the hormones that are released during stress), diet, weight, toxin buildup assessment and so on…

The day is filled with yoga classes, trips to wonderful restaurants or eating in wonderful restaurants in the spa, walking through woods by the river, meditating to the sound of Tibetan singing bowls, massages all designed to help improve the next night of sleep on the sleep stat review the next day.

Regardless of how exhausted you arrived, how bad your electronics digital addiction was, these breaks of sleep optimization and rest are just what the doctor ordered!

When it’s time to leave you’ll be relaxed, and in the state of oneness and well-being. You will have learned the importance of afternoon naps, no longer than thirty minutes in the early afternoon, your sleep training will have been completed, and you will be ready to return to real life and a sleep optimized nightlife. Available throughout the year. From £334 for three nights plus accommodation. sixsenses.com.

Here are a few other dreamy locations with a very small timezone difference as returning home with additional jet lag issues is not ideal for a sleep optimisation retreat.
Lefay Resort & Spa, Italy. Rediscover delicious sleep at their ‘Sweet Dreams’ sleep retreat with breakfast, lunch and dinner included, as well as acupuncture, moxibustion, foot, body and facial treatments with the focus on relaxation and getting a better night’s sleep. Available throughout the year. From £2,228 per person for five nights, lagodigarda.lefayresorts.com.

SHA Wellness Clinic, ‘sleep recovery program’ in Spain. For those with sleep disorders, this retreat has been designed to help you recover from insomnia, and improve overall sleep quality. The clinical approach with sleep assessment, with doctors consultation, session with a nutritionist, and many treatments over ideally their recommended 7-night minimum but ideally a full 14 night stay to achieve the best long term sleep results. Available throughout the year. From £3,300 for seven nights, shawellnessclinic.com.

I wish you a good night’s sleep.
Max Kirsten
Finally as a free gift from me, why not also download my ‘Better Sleep Drifting’ Relaxation for sleep MP3 download. Visit https://www.maxkirsten.com/better-sleep-mp3-download/

Vampire shoppers and the vampire economy!

There is a new 21st-century phenomenon called vampire shopping, so named because sleep deprived bleary eyed parents, insomniacs and gamers go online to make purchases between 1am and 6am.

Barclaycard has reported that as many as one in three shoppers now spends more money online at night, compared to 5 years ago.

Vampire shoppers spend a third more than normal shoppers, most of whom are people who are not sleeping well, usually 1-4am er’s buying random stuff that they don’t really need, and sometimes even with nowhere to put it. 75% of people don’t send back the last thing they didn’t want!

Nocturnal shopping is a thing of the NOW.

Nocturnal shopping became possible thanks to the evolution of technological devices since the smartphone revolution. The ‘one click’ purchases on Amazon, Ebay, Paypal and other electronic payment systems makes shopping just so unbelievably easy, and therefore waiting until morning completely unnecessary when the sleep deprived make very often impulsive shopping bleary eyed random purchases before bed, or even when they wake up in the middle of their sleep (if they are experiencing bouts of insomnia), buying shoes, clothes, jewellery, and even ‘replacement lithium battery stocks after realising they’ve forgotten something essential, and two out of ten are ordering food shopping online.

And vampire economy is booming and is predicted to grow year on year, even though shoppers are often buying things that they often don’t even really need in a bleary eyed state such as holidays, and large pieces of furniture on impulse!

There are now calls for safety measures to be put into place, such as putting stops on buying habits or behavior from bedtime and to wake-up to curb out of control impulsive shopping habits. Shopping channels that broadcast late at night have known for a long time that there is a very lucrative market in vampires staying up late and feeling compelled to buy something that they’ve seen that they don’t really need, and then regret buying it or them in the morning.

And whether morally right or wrong, retailers are exploiting this new market. As humans and technology evolve driving this new lucrative ‘Vampire Economy’.

Top zombie hour vampire purchases are usually made on smart phones, tablets and laptops include: birthday presents, children’s toys, baby gear, vacuum cleaners and games consoles. Another popular late-night vampire purchase is an increasing river of new replacement pillows as people becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their sleep set-up.

There is also a growing trend to hide their arriving growing river of packages and daily deliveries in cupboards as the vampire shopping habits begin to cause embarrassment and shame. Others would call this form of late-night shopping ‘compulsive shopping’ leading towards compulsive ‘shopping addiction’.

Even bleary eyed a good question to ask before pressing the purchase button, is “Do I really need this?’ or perhaps a sensible law is to wait until the afternoon before deciding on whether to buy the item sitting in the basket at the checkout.

But maybe we shouldn’t be afraid of the ‘vampire shoppers’, and more worried about the sleepless zombies!

I’m speaking at SOMNEX The Sleep Show 13th/14th Oct 2018

During the writing of my NEW sleep book I was also contacted by SOMNEX The Sleep Show, and invited to speak as The Sleep Coach, and to offer one-to-one walk-in sleep clinic during the show! I will be there throughout the event, if you go to their website below you’ll be able to find out more details about the show, who all the speakers are including myself, what days they are speaking and when, I hope to see some of you there on the day. 

As a speaker I can offer you a fantastic 40% off. Visitor tickets are currently £20 but if you enter the promo code: SPK40 when you book herehttps://bit.ly/2MdFI21you can get a ticket for just £12!

Visit SOMNEX | The Sleep Show on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 October (10am til 6pm) at The Old Truman Brewery in London.

Get exclusive access to expert advice, innovative new products, specialist exhibitors, multiple interactive workshops and immersive classes – all designed to help you understand how to improve your sleep and give you and your family a fun day out!

 

Visit www.somnexshow.com

Instagram: @somnexshow

Twitter: @somnexshow

Facebook: @SOMNEXshow

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/somnex-the-sleep-show

 

As always I wish you a great night sleep,

Max

Does pain keep you awake at night?

Pain management for better sleep.

You will need to work out if your lack of sleep is causing your pain? or if the pain is causing a lack of sleep? Then focus on whichever came first.

Not sleeping properly can not only magnify but sometimes even generate pain signals.

However, if you are one of those people who has either had a long term health issue causing you to find sleep difficult, broken and intermittent, Or, if you have had surgery, or any musculoskeletal, neurological or naturopathic pain signals that you’ve already probably been searching for an alternative to opiate based addictive pain medication, usually containing a form of codeine that can cause unpleasant physical dependency even sometimes from short and long-term use.
There are also other painkillers, often synthetic like oxycodone, and tramadol amongst others that can equally be fine for short-term use, but the body soon adapts to the presence of the substance and if one stops taking the drug abruptly, withdrawal symptoms occur. Often, apart from unwanted constipation, night sweats hot and cold, there must be a better and more natural non-addictive way to deal with pain. Also avoid paracetamol tablets with caffeine which reduce sleep ability and all nicotine products at night.
Here are a few of my suggestions to help reduce the need for powerful addictive pain drugs to achieve better sleep.
Firstly, here in the UK it’s possible to buy an over-the-counter product called Nuromol containing a blend of paracetamol and ibuprofen. Always read the label and follow the instructions as paracetamol can only be taken as directed, however, mixed with ibuprofen its effectiveness is greatly multiplied. Therefore taking these just before bed and having another dosage if required later on in the night by the bed with a glass of water can greatly help improve/ reduce pain signals that can make deep sleep elusive.
Secondly, one of the rules of the mind, is that what ever you focus your mind on it becomes magnified. As a sleepcoach, I train my clients to focus elsewhere, either the different parts of the body, the feeling of relaxation which also greatly reduces pain signals, as well as learning how to release tension with breath and then physically feeling the benefits can help greatly
Another rule of the mind, is that whatever you try not to think about, is what you actually think about. Understanding this simple truth, and instead focusing intensely on other things like perhaps your head on the pillow, how comfortable you can get in your bed, feeling increasingly more than thinking, shifting the attention off of the thought of pain signals, focusing on relaxing and mild discomfort until the non-addictive pain medication kicks in helps greatly.
There are obviously times when pain signals for some are so great that the quality of deep sleep seems almost impossible to achieve, however the discomfort from recent surgery, or recent injury, or digestive and inner organ problems, and so on make the acceptance of the pain, and a commitment to at least relax and achieve as much rest as possible even if sleep is almost impossible, will at least help to alleviate some of the horrific alarm signals that the sleep deprived suffer. Any relaxation, distraction from the discomfort, will make these usually challenging times more bearable until the short-term pain spike reduces.
Relaxation and acceptance are two of the most important keys to better sleep pain management, if not discomfort reduction and control. At my sleep clinic in central London, where I treat insomniacs, and all anxiety and pain related sleep problems this is the first thing I teach.
Sleep medications that can helpful include over-the-counter drugs that have a sedating effect, like antihistamines, or combination pain reliever and sleep aids, such as Paracetamol or Tylenol PM if in the US. Prescription sleep medications should only be for short term use. Always discuss pain and sleep medications with your doctor, MD, GP, or pharmacist.
Learn how to rest and to relax deeply, until good sleep becomes possible.
Remember that good sleep is a key to curing chronic pain.

As always wishing you better sleep,

Max Kirsten

A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

Ear plugs are like cars, there are just so many different types!

Not all insomnia and sleep problems are caused by anxiety. When I go through my MOT Sleep Survey to identify the root causes of a clients sleep difficulties, it will often identify either hyper-sensitivity to sound, with an external stimulus issue like the sounds outside; cars, trains, or even aeroplanes; or their neighbours above or next door, the dawn chorus, or their partner’s snoring, or just the sounds of their breathing and so on… babies, children and pets etc… This leads me often to my A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

If hyper-sensitivity to sound is at the root of their not being able to sleep deeply, or for as long as they would like because they keep being woken by sound. I usually recommend a variety of sleep earplugs based on various relevant parameters. Often my clients say they have already tried earplugs and that they didn’t work either because they didn’t block out the sound they wanted to block out. Or, that they were too big and uncomfortable, and often, they said that they didn’t like wearing earplugs because they live alone (most often women living alone with safety issues), or that even though outside noises bothered them, because they have a baby, child or even several children, that they weren’t comfortable blocking out all noise in case of a child based emergency.

All of these reasons of course, are totally valid, although not in my opinion the end of the conversation. There were still essential reasons to explore the various possibilities and solutions to help noise sensitive poor sleepers.

In my deep and varied Sleep Coach tool box, I keep a variety of different earplugs and much more…

My A to Z of Sleep Earplugs collection includes:

1, Very narrow foam ear plugs ideal mostly for people (usually women) who have narrower ear canals or tunnels – excellent sound reduction 36db.

2, Parental ear plugs. These are special attenuated ear plugs which reduce the outside sounds of traffic etc, but still allows the sound of babies and children for parents wanting better sleep but also needing to be able to still hear their children and babies if needed – sound reduction 24 db

3, Various shaped 3-tier Silicone ear plugs (hyper allergenic – medical grade) with various noise reducing densities 22 db upwards.

4, And a vast array of earplugs that vary in shape, size and sound reduction. I also have thicker earplugs of various foam densities that can totally block out up to 46 dB of sound – making lorries, noisy neighbours, or being under the flight path of noisy planes… to lying next to the worlds loudest snorer.

5, There are also a number of hi-tech solutions with incredible noise cancelling properties or even a sound bubble gadget with a noise exclusion zone containing and blocking out your partners snoring that are also most definitely worth exploring if quietness is a priceless commodity. Some of this kit can cost a lot more than good foam ear plugs though!

6, For snorers in a relationship sharing the same bed, there are also a number of other very simple nasal options worth considering if you and your partner want to achieve better sleep. There is a special plastic insert that opens the nose channels wider. There are also a number of pillows and sleep positions that help to reduce problem snoring. There are many options to explore before surgery, sleeping next door or even eventually spitting up.

7, For noisy neighbours there are a number of sound insulation boards for floors, walls, ceilings and doors to explore as well.

So visit a good sleep coach to help you to explore all the various possibilities to reduce or eliminate unwanted sounds.

I hope you found my A to Z of Sleep Earplugs useful to solve any sound issues.

As usual I wish you a really great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten