When you are feeling tired and low on energy because you had a bad night, it is easy to think that medication is the solution. A good night’s sleep improves not only sleep but also stress and even performance, because sleep is regenerative for mind and body, as well as the emotions. But the truth is that the only sustainable solution to combat sleep problems is to make changes to your life, which will make you feel and sleep better. My course “7 Steps to Better Sleep” will teach you how to do this. But, before we get started, here are the real reasons why you should choose a natural method over drugs for better sleep:
What are the problems with sleep medication?
As you are not looking to solve the underlying problem of why something as natural as a good night’s sleep doesn’t come easily to you, you create a dependency on the drug. The manufacturer of the drug will be happy, but you haven’t really solved your problem. You treated a symptom and soon you feel you can’t live without these sleeping pills at night. When working with natural methods, we want to address the underlying problem of the sleeplessness and also work on changes to your life which will improve overall well-being and return the body to a normal level of functioning natural processes.
All drugs need to be metabolised and have a side effect on the liver. Whilst occasional use may be something your liver can cope with, long-term use will reduce the vitality of this important organ. Add everyday toxins to the mix – for example, the toxins and pesticides found in fresh food – and it is not just the liver which is involved in metabolising drugs and toxins. There is a concept of Liver Chi in Chinese Medicine and the possibility of a stagnant Liver Chi, which usually results in liver depression. Stagnant QI causes pain, urinary problems, lower abdominal pain and distension, sciatica, premenstrual nipple sensitivity, irritability, depression and headaches, and can also become the cause of female infertility. In my Ayurvedic practice I have treated a young woman for “fatty liver disease” who didn’t drink or take drugs but who developed a fatty liver from just not eating a healthy and varied diet.
When you are relatively young and grab sleeping pills to combat stress, improve sleep and feel better, you are creating a short cut instead of putting in a little more effort to get to the cause. And when you develop another problem, which you will need medication for too, then you will suddenly have a couple of drugs which you need to depend on to function better. It is most likely that these two drugs have not been tested for drug interaction in your body. A drug interaction is a reaction between two (or more) drugs or between a drug and a food or beverage. Taking a drug while having certain medical conditions can also cause a drug interaction. It is best to stay as drug free as possible for as long as possible and use natural methods wherever you can. This means when you do need medication for a serious health problem, you will have avoided a drug interaction simply for improving a natural process, such as sleep.
The more you rely on drugs for lifestyle disorders, such as sleep, the more you will have to take. The body will get used to a level of drugs and will eventually accept this as “daily food” and the drugs will stop producing the same result. You will have to increase your sleep medication over time. This is obviously not ideal for all the reasons already stated above. It would be much more useful to treat a natural process with natural methods and put you in control of specific life changes which would help you sleep.
What are the benefits of natural methods, over drug use for improving normal natural processes?
Positive Side Effects
A considered natural approach has some positive side effects. A holistic approach involves you and your co-creative potential. It includes a positive conscious approach to how you live your life. Many of us are not controlling our lives and are just dragged into the suction of outside demands. It is also about how you consume things, such as food and medicine, or how you handle relationships, your work-life balance and physical activities. These things can either work to strengthen your immune system, build resilience and improve overall well-being – one of the effects being improved sleep, more energy and ultimately getting more out of life – or they can work against this outcome.
I find this word so overused, but the truth is that you are in charge and in control of your own healing journey. You don’t need to outsource and pay somebody to look after you and see lifestyle results. And if something goes wrong, you won’t find anybody that you can pay to take this healing journey for you. Ultimately, you will always have to deal with this. For everything else, you can hire somebody. So, insomnia is a great excuse to start a journey to greater self-awareness and to living in tune with your body. Sadly, we are so detached from our bodies and detached from nature that it may not even be imaginable for most of you to feel this connection.
Again, an overused word, but I think we don’t recognise freedom until we are restricted. Similarly, we don’t value the clean air we breathe until we don’t have it. There is nothing wrong with that approach, I think it is our right to take freedom and clean air for granted. And the freedom I am talking about in this instance, is the freedom from side effects that come with drug use, which I mentioned above. The benefit is an absence of additional problems. Problems caused by being stuck in a rut without solving the underlying cause and thereby creating a spiral of dependency and side effects, and a potential for drug interaction at a later point. You won’t naturally value this freedom until it is taken away from you. I want you to preserve this freedom of being “drug-free” for as long as it is possible and not grab medication for natural processes without further thought, but work on solving the underlying problem naturally.
A natural approach works better in the long run. It will need your participation and co-creation, but you will get rewarded many times over. What if you get addicted to your new and healthy lifestyle? That would be brilliant! You will avoid the spiral of having to increase drug dosage over time. In any case, once you start reviewing your choices and actions to become more conscious of your lifestyle, you are kicking off a spiral of a different kind. When do you stop becoming more aware and more conscious? You will find that your quest for natural solutions will question a lot of the practices and lifestyle habits you have been following so blindly. You will want to preserve the efficacy of natural and by working on your resilience and immunity with natural methods, you will realise that we also need to preserve the resilience and immunity of nature, so that many more people after you can have the same result.
If you are not sleeping well at night, you are probably also not living well during the day. The choices we make during the day have a profound effect on our nervous system, determine our energy level, resilience and immunity. They say “if you keep doing what you are doing, you will get what you are currently getting”, and this is true for many things, including your well-being. When you take responsibility for your health and well-being, you won’t be able to ignore natural methods for natural processes, such as sleep and the regenerative qualities it brings to your life.
Sonja Breuer (MSc. ayur. med.) is tapping into a niche solution for improving sleep by combining the eastern medicine of Ayurveda and yoga. The products available are online courses and individual coaching. She encourages people to embrace lifestyle changes to bring about better sleep, leading to greater levels of well-being, energy and performance. Sonja is qualified with a postgraduate degree in Ayurvedic medicine and has more than 1000 yoga-teaching hours. She holds coaching and mentoring diplomas and has energy healing abilities. She has devised online programmes for better sleep: “7 Steps to Better Sleep” and “Yoga for Better Sleep”, so you can get started immediately, either before or whilst working with her in person, either online or offline.