by Kirby Lindsay, posted 2 November 2012
Naturopathic Doctor, and a core faculty member at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Dr. Debra Brammer acknowledged that, “when a patient comes in to see me, we always ask about sleep.” On Thursday, November 8th, at 6p, Dr. Brammer will speak to the audience, as she does with patients, during a free lecture on ways to break the cycle of poor rest as she addresses ‘Better Sleep, Better Energy.’
This lecture, at the Bastyr Center (on Stone Way,) provides another installment in the ‘Living Naturally’ series, and a great opportunity to ask questions and get answers on how to restore the natural vital force each night.
The Repair & Maintenance Cycle
“What happens when we’re sleeping,” Dr. Brammer explained, “is our body is doing its repair and maintenance cycle. It is automatic, a self-regulating process, to allow our brains to re-boot and to allow our emotions to process.” Sleep-deprivation can lead to emotional chaos, in addition to its effect on our mental and physical abilities. Sleep deprivation impedes our ability to resist illnesses, and our ability to be happy – and feel energized by life’s challenges.
When she meets a patient, Dr. Brammer said, “the magic question is, do they wake-up well-rested?” In a recent study, she referenced, 65% of respondents said they had intermittent or recurrent problems with insomnia or sleep problems. “I work with the patients to find out what their triggers are,” she explained.
For many patients, a major piece of the puzzle is figuring out what might be interfering with their sleep. If the patient wakes in the night, what is the cause? Is it pain? The need to urinate? The ‘to do list’ mind (or ‘hamstering,’)? Or do they just not know.
Difficulty sleeping may be a symptom of something larger – a mood disorder, pain, family history, endocrine disorders, etc. Even sleep apnea can have underlying causes such as weight gain, food/environmental allergies/sensitivities, alcohol use, or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD.)
When addressing a problem – like sleep deprivation – “from a naturopathic point of view,” Dr. Brammer explained, “it is all related.” In this lecture, and at the Bastyr clinic, sufferers can find tools, and ways to use them, to either get a good night’s rest – or address what may be interfering.
Good ‘Sleep Hygiene’
For those having trouble getting to sleep, “I always like to ask, ‘what is your hour before sleep like?’” Dr. Brammer explained. “The hour before sleep is to make sure your body and brain are winding down,” she said, and conducting good ‘sleep hygiene.’
As children, our parents often read to us, which prepared us for sleep. A similar, regular routine is just as important for adults. Dr. Brammer suggested a few healthy bed time habits:
- Stretch: gentle stretching, with the incorporation of deep diaphragmatic breathing
- Bathe: with temperate water – not cold, but not extra hot either – using Epsom salts, and/or drops of “whatever smell is the most relaxing to the person,” Dr. Brammer suggested, “Find which one makes them start to hum.”
- Read: something a few pages long – spiritual, poetry, short stories – and not too stimulating
- List: write down things to do tomorrow, and thus remove them from your mind, but stay realistic in setting goals setting. This can help quiet the ‘to do list’ mind.
“All of this is almost like ‘grandma’ medicine,” Dr. Brammer acknowledged.
All Withdrawls; No Deposits
“We all know that if we’ve slept well, the small stresses – and the big ones – are easier to address,” Dr. Brammer pointed out, “The little things don’t throw us off.”
Ultimately, “stress management for Americans is a major obstacle to being healthy,” Dr. Brammer acknowledged. The new technology, we were promised, would make life easier. Instead, we’ve become more overwhelmed, and “self-care has not been incorporated.”
“We always think we can sacrifice the workout, the knitting group, or sleep,” Dr. Brammer observed. The argument becomes, ‘I can stay up just another two hours and get caught up on the laundry,’ but the sacrifice of sleep often piles up faster and higher than the dirty sheets.
“Chronic sleep deprivation starts to reduce our energy bank account,” Dr. Brammer explained, “withdrawals are being made, without deposits to replenish.”
In Chinese medicine, our natural energy is called the Chi. In naturopathic medicine, it is called the Vital Force, and is the central part of who we are. When we sleep, “our emotions, our brains and our bodies re-harmonize,” Dr. Brammer said, “regular sleep allows us to maintain that natural energy that is the unique part of ourselves.”
And ultimately, “there is a difference between energy that comes from caffeine, alcohol, sweets, etc.,” and any other stimulants that keep us going when deprived of sleep, Dr. Brammer observed, “or that which comes from a healthy, well-balanced life.”
To figure out if it is time to turn off the computer, or something underlying, that drains your energy and leaves you tired, consider attending the free lecture by Dr. Brammer, at the Bastyr Center on November 8th at 6p.
If you are just too tired to attend, contact the Bastyr Center for an appointment – or visit the Bastyr YouTube channel after November 8th to see this, or any other previous ‘Living Naturally’ lectures.
And, in the meantime, put down that laundry and go to bed!
- Self-Care, And Finding Our Place In The Universe
- by Katie Talbott, LMHCA, October 1, 2012
- Why Natural Medicine?
- by Kirby Lindsay, March 8, 2010
- Fight The Flu, Fremont!
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 12, 2010
- Minimize The ‘Hazards In The Arts’
- by Kirby Lindsay, October 29, 2012
©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.