Have you ever struggled to get to sleep or woken in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep?
Have you struggled with thoughts whirring in your head, unable to achieve the goal of having a good nights sleep?
If so you are not alone, especially in the current climate of constant change and toxic stress which is leading to more and more people struggling with stress related insomnia.
One of the culprits for this modern pandemic is the generalised increase in levels of the hormone cortisol , which is over-produced when the nervous system is regularly stressed and put into a state of hyper-arousal. With these chronically heightened levels of cortisol it is increasingly difficult to drop into the state of calm and tranquillity needed to initially get to sleep or to get back to sleep in the middle of the night when you awaken.
There have been several researched modalities which have been found to decrease the chronic levels of cortisol in the system and these include gentle exercise, deep breathing techniques and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).
Feldenkrais and sleep.
One method which combines several of the components of the researched modalities for stress /cortisol reduction, is the Feldenkrais Method of mindful movement.
Recently I talked to a German physiotherapist who, when asked about her experience of Feldenkrais , said she didn’t like it as it just put her to sleep!
This could be a side effect worth looking into!
During my Feldenkrais professional training , 10 years ago, several of the students during our 4 year training slept for a considerable periods of the Awareness Through Movement lessons we undertook . The small, slow movements and calming voice of the teacher are aiming to decrease our flight or fight aroused state and put you in the calm pre -sleep place where learning can optimally take place. This shift into the parasympathetic nervous system can often put you to sleep especially when the lessons use small slow movements of the eyes, tongue and hands. These movements are inhibitory to the sympathetic (fight or flight ) nervous system.
If you need to sleep it is quite possible you will drop-off in these lessons especially with some teachers with monotone voices!
During my Feldenkrais training I became fascinated by sleep and how we processed the movements and lessons we did during the day overnight . Maybe it had something to do with most of the lessons being done in sleeping positions on the floor? I loved the feeling of being on the edge of sleep during the movement lessons , in the twilight zone !
At the same time as my training , I was also under a lot of stress in my job as a Physiotherapy Manager dealing with constant organisational change. I would awaken at 2 am and not be able to get back to sleep for several hours with worries and anxieties floating around in my head! As I worried about not getting back to sleep the problem became worse , a vicious cycle !
Sounder Sleep !
The goal of the Feldenkrais Method is not to actually put you fully to sleep but in one application and evolution of Feldenkrais, the Sounder Sleep System , it is!
The practice of Feldenkrais did help my sleeping considerably , with a decrease in my neck and shoulder pain and an increase in comfortable sleeping positions available, but I still struggled with bouts of stress-related insomnia and I didn’t have practical strategies to help me get back to sleep.
In 2010 I came across the work of Michael Krugman , an American Feldenkrais practitioner who had developed an application and evolution of the Feldenkrais Method specifically to help people sleep better , the Sounder Sleep System.
I tried out some of the Sounder Sleep practices and found them to be very effective in getting me back to sleep . These micro-movements of the hands/eyes/ribs, synchronised with the breathe , had the effect of switching off my brain chatter and putting me back to sleep , they are called Night -Tamers!
So impressed was I with these results I signed up to a 1 year teacher training programme with Michael Krugman which included a 2 day “Sominar “ in Switzerland.
Over the next year I spent lots of time practicing different Day-Tamers whilst in my office at work and lived in fear of my colleagues finding me asleep at my desk!
Day -Tamers are done in sitting and are designed to reduce the effects of daytime stress (and cortisol) and help you sleep better when the night comes. Day-tamers are similar to Night tamers but are carried out for 10-15 minutes 2-3 times during the day.
The two day Seminar in Switzerland was amazing and I met several Swiss and German Feldenkrais Practitioners and Physios who integrated Sounder Sleep into their work . In Germany there are numerous “Sleep Competency Clinics” where teaching of Sleep Hygiene and the Sounder Sleep System are combined with analysis of sleep posture /mattress suitability. We practiced most of the classic Sounder Sleep lessons under the expert guidance of Michael’s soporific voice and it was great to go in and out of sleep for a total of 10 hours , with many of the regular participants with their mattresses and duvets!
Over the last 10 years I have used the Sounder Sleep techniques and strategies regularly and have found them to be of great use especially when over-stressed . I now have practical strategies to get me back to sleep. If I awaken in the night with anxiety and racing thoughts. I practice my Night -tamers when I want to go back to sleep . I now love the period of sleep from 3.00am till my alarm goes off at 6.00am, bliss !.
I also love teaching others about Sounder Sleep and regularly run introductory live workshop days as-well as doing one to one Sleep coaching.
Presently I am teaching weekly online Sounder Sleep Series classes via zoom and have had students from as far away as Australia and the USA joining in.
Check out the upcoming Sounder Sleep Introductory Series classes here
Series of 6 weekly 1 hours classes starts Tuesday 21st July at 18:30 BST.
Maybe you could join us too?
PS. If you want to find out more and maybe try for free :
* I have a new Facebook group Sounder Sleep .
* For your free Sounder Sleep video Day-Tamer (The Depth) to get you started !
Click on the link below