Why Do We Need to Sleep?

Sleeping is an essential part of life. We all need to sleep at least few hours every night in order to function properly. Our mind and body suffer when we have difficulty in falling asleep or when we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to sleep again.

When we don’t get enough sleep, during the day we feel tired, irritable, have difficulty concentrating. Of course, there are exceptions. Randy Gardner when he was 17 years old set a world record of staying awake without using any stimulant for 11 hours in 1964. However, for the rest of us, we need to sleep every night.

Sleeping is biological imperative. Our body and mind get a good rest for several hours every night. During sleep several functions occur. Some of these are metabolic, immunological and hormonal.

Here are some of the functions of sleep. A good night sleep is an excellent restoration mechanism for the body. All the organs get a chance to rest. For example, it has shown that sleeping helps healing our wounds. Although all organs slow down, our brain maintains its full function.

In addition to taking care of the body, sleeping allows the brain to repair itself by removing wastes and the mind to improve memory.

Dreaming, specifically, helps to keep us emotionally healthy. Anxiety dreams and nightmares are the way our mind releases the built up tensions during the previous day. During the REM sleep, the brain blocks the activity of the bodily motor system. That’s the reason why we don’t move when we dream. Without this mechanism, we would move our body when we have nightmares, which would cause a complete physical exhaustion.

Now you know the functions of sleeping, you ought to make sure to get a good night sleep every night. Here are some tips:

  1. Do your best to go to bed at the same hour. Your brain love routines and if you maintain a healthy one, it makes it easy to fall asleep.
  2. Avoid strong lights 30 minutes before going to bed. If you must use a laptop or a cell phone in bed just before sleeping, make sure you dim the screen. A strong light into your eyes becomes a message for your brain to wake up.
  3. Avoid snooze button. Sleeping is made of several cycles of REM and not REM. When you wake up and then go back to bed to be waken up again few minutes later, you fall into a new sleep cycle. That’s why snooze enthusiasts drag themselves out of bed.
  4. Sleep in darkness. Avoid keeping a light on when you sleep. The light penetrates through your closed eyelids and communicates to your brain that it’s time to get up. It confuses your sleep cycle.
  5. Avoid alcohol. Although drinking a glass of wine may apparently make you feel drowsy, it actually interferes with sleeping cycles.

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” Ghandi

 

 

 

Why Severe Phobias are Easier to Overcome than Mild Fears

It’s a common belief that severe phobias are more difficult to treat than mild fears. After all, it seems common sense that if you have a mild fear reaction, it should be easy for you to overcome it. Following this rational argumentation, should you suffer from a strong phobia, because of your strong negative reaction it’s going to be a difficult task to get rid of it.

However, not always common sense and rational argumentations are scientific. There is a difference between common sense intuition and scientific method.
Scott Lilienfeld and colleagues conducted a research on many widely held common-sense beliefs about human behaviour. In their book 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, they discuss these myths. Here are three of these myths:

• “Crimes increase during full moons.”
• “People use only 10% of their brain power.”
• “Low self-esteem is a major cause of psychological problems.”
Another myth linked to the theme of this article is the assumption that a complicated problem requires an equally complicated solution. However, my experience has shown that this statement is not always true. Countless professionals have shown just often you can solve a very complicated phobia with a simple solution.

I know that this may sound totally counterintuitive because most people that have a severe phobia have done different kinds of therapy without much success. Their obvious conclusion seems to be that the more severe the phobia is, the more difficult its solution must be.

Have you ever thought that there could be another explanation? What if the reason is not so much due to the severity of your phobic reaction, but rather, the inefficacy of the therapy you tried?

Therefore, the key factor is the competency of the professional to know how to help you overcome your phobias that is effective (that solves the problem) and efficient (in a shortest time with the least effort on your part).
Finding the right intervention, a small but precise change, can put into motion a ripple effect for the ultimate positive change.

If you are suffering from a sever case of phobia, rest assured that there is a solution. You can overcome your intense fear. I have helped many people with severe cases of phobias to regain their peace of mind in just 5 sessions.

How to Stop Recurring Nightmares

First let’s look at some data on sleep. We spend one third of life sleeping! This is an important portion of our life. The studies so far have determined that our body and brain need this rest to recuperate physically and mentally.

Today’s scientists can now use sophisticated research instruments to understand the mysteries of mental functioning. Nevertheless, the functioning of the human brain is immensely complex and we still know very little.

In terms of mental recuperation, sleeping is a cleansing process, just like washing your dirty clothes. Sleeping flushes out the waste products just like a laundry machine.

Moreover, dreams helps the brain to sort out all the information that your were exposed to during the day. Therefore, the brain region responsible for memory decides what to keep and what to discard.

Now let’s look at the nightmares. Anxiety seems to be the main cause of these nasty dreams. Anything that worries you could become the trigger for nightmares.

Most people have nightmares once in a while whether because of an extremely emotional event in the past or a future event they dread to experience. For example, someone told me that he had nightmares for several nights after he watched how they washed the body of his father and prepare it for burial. A future event such as an exam or appearance at a court trial can also cause nightmares.

Therefore, at a both biological and psychological level, we need to experience nightmares. A bad dream is a necessary phenomenon. It prepares us to better face daily fears as well as acting as a discharge!

However, recurrent nightmares become a nuisance. They can even cause anxiety during the day since some people have flash backs of the dream during the day.

Here are two ways to stop regular nightmares:

1) Every night, siting or lying in bed, at your sleep time, imagine your recurrent nightmares. Start from the beginning of the nightmare but change the ending to a pleasant or funny one.

Act as if you were the director of a stage play. You are the director as well as the protagonist. Tell yourself how to act differently in order to have a happy ending.

Repeat this for seven nights. Each night change the setting the content of the nightmare. One night you can set the story in the ancient civilization (Greek, Egyptians, Aztecs, Romans, etc.). Another night see your nightmare as a comedy show.

2) You can also dedicate a time and space for writing out your nightmare. Set aside a time in the morning or in the afternoon. Sit at a desk in a room on your own. Make sure there are no distractions such as music, telephones, etc. Set an alarm clock for 30 minutes. Get few white papers and a pen. Begin to write out your nightmare in detail. Make sure you visualize as you write all the details of your dream. Feel free to get scared or cry as much as you want. Write and let the emotions flow.

Stay in the room and keep writing and feeling scared until the alarm goes off. Shut the alarm and stop writing. Tear the papers into small pieces and throw them away. Get out of the room and wash your face with cool water.

Practice this assignment for 7 days and let me know how it went.

To book an online session drop me a line here.

Seneca’s Counter Intuitive Advice for Anxiety

Some time ago a woman contacted me for online sessions. Her challenge was her loss of joy in life due to a series of health problems and anxiety.

In her own words, often her day would start well but someone would ruin it for her. She would get angry and then sad for not being able to respond to them in a serene fashion. She would feel frustrated because she would start the day with a positive mental attitude but someone would annoy her. She felt vulnerable and didn’t know what to do.

I told her to follow Seneca’s advice. According to this stoic philosopher “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” And the solution, according to Seneca, resides in the imagination. For this reason he recommends to start the day imagining the worse case scenarios. We can visualize that several people such as the neighbor, boss driver, colleagues, partner, and others or unexpected events ruin our day. Once we fantasize in our imagination our activities that could go wrong, our mind gets ready for in case it does happen in real life. It’s like vaccinating yourself against unexpected negative events.

Seneca called this exercise premeditatio malorum, which means the premonition of evil.

She decided to give it a try. After few weeks she wrote me this message:

“I write to you to tell you something exceptional! Today after almost four years I went to swim. And I did it! The feeling of immersing my head in the water was like a baptism.

It has been a long time that I wasn’t feeling so good!

I’m applying your advice on a daily basis. I begin to see results. I feel hopeful as well as thrilled. During a long time I had lost both of them.

I wanted to share it with you and thank you again.”

To book an online appointment click here.

 

The Two Emotions That Govern Our Lives

The two emotions that govern our lives are PAIN and PLEASURE. Pain makes us avoid unpleasant experiences while pleasure compels us to desire what is enjoyable. These two emotions are mother nature´s way for self-preservation.

All the other emotions are offshoots of these two primary sensations. The two other main powerful emotions that are related to pain are FEAR and ANGER. These two emotions influence our behaviour in a very powerful way.

Fear is the strongest of all emotions because it serves as a protective mechanism. Anger also has a positive function. It let us know when we, or others, are treated unjustly. Without fear and anger we would not survive in this world. Therefore, even if often we describe some emotions as negative, they are all useful in some context.

Our emotions become a problem when we are not able to manage them. Either we try to avoid the unavoidable or control the uncontrollable. Or worse of all, we delegate the responsibility of our emotions to others.

Our emotions are ours. Even if other people or certain life events cause us feel one of these unwanted emotions, ultimately, we are in charge of how we feel. We can always decide how to express them.

First we ought to recognize that what we feel is human. After acknowledging a certain emotion we must remember that it is fulfilling a purpose. For example, when you get angry, your mind and body is alerting you about an injustice. This injustice is, of course, according to your perception and belief system. This is a useful signal! The next step is to find a way to channel it in a healthy way without hurting yourself or anyone else.