Mind-Body Counselling and Psychotherapy

Mind-Body Counselling and Psychotherapy

Using a variety of theories and approaches, I help my clients access their own (often hidden) resources to promote healing and transformation in their journey towards wholeness, authenticity, genuine positive relationships, and a deepening connection to self, nature, spirit, and community.

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Sleep Interrupted?

Jennifer Scott, RCC, RSW, BC-DMT

(This article by Jennifer Scott appeared in the North Shore Outlook , June 28, 2007, p. 37)

Do you often have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep at night? Do you waken too early or feel tired all day long? If so, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder. It is estimated that an astonishing 70% of Canadians suffer from some kind of sleep disturbance and many don't realize help is available.

If you think you might have sleep problems, there are 3 steps you can take to help yourself to a good night sleep. The first step is to assess your sleep habits and make some changes in your sleep routine and environment.

One sleep tip that works well for many of my clients is to wake up at the same time each day regardless of how much sleep you have had. Only go to bed when you feel sleepy, but set your alarm so you wake up at the same time every day, 7 days a week. This establishes a rhythm for your body's sleep patterns.

Another effective sleep tip is to take at least one hour before bedtime to unwind from the day. Avoid anything stimulating such as caffeine, watching T.V., or reading work-related material. Instead, do things that will help calm your nervous system such as taking a hot bath, reading light material, listening to relaxing music, or practicing a relaxation exercise. Bedroom ambiance is another important factor in getting a sound sleep. (Visit the websites listed below for more sleep tips.)

If you have tried making adjustments to your sleep habits and environment and you're still not sleeping well, the next step is to see your physician to check on the role of medications, medical disorders or other factors. Alternative medicine choices can also be effective.

The third step is to see a counsellor with expertise in sleep problems. A counsellor will help you assess the causes of your sleep problems and teach you strategies to help you sleep better. Some of the most common causes are stress, depression, anxiety, menstruation, menopause, growing older, medical issues, and pain. But did you know that almost any kind of trauma, including things like surgery, accidents such as falls or a car accident, abuse, and so on can also cause sleep problems? Sleep problems from these causes may not show up until years after the event.

Working through these issues with a body-oriented counselling approach can be a highly effective way to help you sleep more soundly and feel refreshed each day. A body-oriented approach to counselling works directly with the nervous system to release trauma held in the body, which calms the nervous system and helps you sleep better.

In addition, a counsellor can help you talk about negative attitudes you might have about sleep and learn effective behavioral sleep strategies and stress management techniques to promote better sleep.

I once had a client who slept only 2-3 hours a night for many years. Understandably, he felt tired and drained all day long. After a few months of therapy he was able to sleep 6-7 hours regularly every night. Many years ago I hit my head so hard it throbbed for several days. I began to have sleepless nights at least once a week. One session with a body-oriented counsellor to work on that trauma was enough to restore my sleep patterns back to normal.

Sleep disturbance is a huge topic, which I have only touched briefly in this article. For the "Top 20" helpful sleep tips, see the sleep article on my website. For more information on sleep problems talk to a counsellor or visit these 3 websites: www.helpguide.org; www.sleepfoundation.org; and www.css.to .

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