Why You Can’t Sleep At Night And What You Can Do About It

It’s harder to sleep in these times. Articles are written every day about the subject. Your reason for tossing and turning at night may be different from mine. But the result is the same. We’re foggy and tired the next day. We keep ourselves alert with coffee, sugar or other stimulants. Then we crash and drag and can’t remember where we left our car keys. Up and down we go. We stay up late to get things done, like “just one-more-email” which stimulates one more. We watch TV to chill before bed but then the theme of the last show we watched takes over our brain and creates restless sleep – if we’re lucky. For many of us, worries and concerns we’ve been pushing aside finally get their time to play out on the stage of our minds without distraction. Where’s that sleeping pill to shut it all off? But that sleeping pill just leaves us dragging again the next day.

We all know the statistics. Not enough sleep affects our emotional well-being, our cognitive clarity, our relationship communications, our performance on the job or elsewhere, our sense of connection to spirit or self, and ultimately our long-term health. We get anxious about not sleeping, which only makes it harder to sleep. Anxiety releases adrenaline which prompts body and mind into action–the opposite of what we need for sleeping. It’s a catch-22. Many of us have tried a lot of the recommended common sense remedies and still often find ourselves lying awake a good part of the night. What are we to do?

If this describes you or someone you care about, there is one place you may not have looked for help that’s about one to two feet under your nose, depending on how tall you are. That place is your heart.

Three Ways Your Heart Can Help You Sleep Better

Your heart beats in a rhythm. Research at the Institute of HeartMath shows that when you are worried, anxious, frustrated – stressed – that rhythm becomes irregular. The more stressed you are, the more chaotic your heart rhythm pattern becomes. So what makes the heart rhythm smooth out quickly? Research shows it’s positive feelings, like love, care, gratitude, appreciation, compassion or joy. These feelings not only feel good but are good for you. They order your heart rhythms, reduce cortisol and increase DHEA (the vitality hormone) to help you sleep more soundly and wake up more energized and refreshed.

When your heart rhythm pattern becomes smooth and ordered, it’s called a coherent rhythm. Below is a picture. You can see how jagged and incoherent the heart rhythm pattern is when you’re anxious or frustrated and how smooth and sine-wave like (coherent) it becomes when you’re feeling appreciation.


What’s cool is that both graphs are of the same person feeling one way then the other within a period of a couple minutes. What’s even cooler is that scientists have found that the smooth, coherent rhythm is the pattern your heart rhythm naturally goes into during deep sleep. So why not give it some help? Here’s how you can:

When you close your eyes at night, tell yourself you aren’t going to overdramatize your concerns about sleeping. Here’s a heart-focused technique we call Attitude Breathing® to help create the coherent rhythmic pattern that can facilitate deeper and more effective sleep:

* Gently breathe an attitude of calm, ease and relaxation for a minute or two. * When relaxed, then breathe an attitude of appreciation, gratitude or love for someone or something–a pet, a time in nature, etc.

* Do this for a few minutes or so to activate the heart rhythms that help release beneficial hormones which reduce stress and restore your system.

If you go to bed with that stressed, jagged heart rhythm pattern, it can disrupt your sleeping rhythms. During deep sleep your breathing and heart rhythms are quieter, your metabolic rate slows and hormonal rhythms change. The stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) decrease. However, when these rhythms are disrupted, then sleeping restfully or waking up refreshed is hard to come by.

Have you ever noticed what happens when you go to bed without resolving a real or imagined conflict with someone? Your mind won’t stop rehashing what you could have or should have said. Your heart can help.

Respect yourself and the other person. If you can, communicate with her before you go to bed and with open-heartedness and latitude, try to work it out. Check to see if there’s something you need to correct within yourself to help the situation. Apologize if you need to and listen from your heart with an attitude of genuine care. Ask questions to sincerely understand where she is coming from, even if you think you know. If you can’t reach the person, talk about the problem with someone who won’t just agree with you but may provide another point of view. Then talk to the person as soon as you can. Don’t chicken out. Even if the situation doesn’t resolve right away, you can release yourself more knowing that you tried. Breathing the attitude of self-compassion has helped many people in “hard-to-resolve” situations.

Realize that what you do during the day also affects how you sleep at night. When you allow stress to build-up during the day, it throws off your body’s rhythms and can lead to overload, headaches, backaches, indigestion, energy drain and more. Your heart generates the strongest rhythm in the body, and your brain and nervous system entrain to your heart’s rhythm, whether coherent or incoherent. This exciting research is available if you want to learn more.

Getting your heart into a coherent rhythm a couple times during the day helps release stress as you go and helps reset your body’s rhythms for better sleep at night. Here’s how.

Take a coherence break in-between activities, at your desk, on a break, or anywhere. Shift focus to your heart (look at picture of a loved one, remember a favorite pet, or recall a time in nature) and feel appreciation or gratitude. It’s important that the appreciation be heartfelt (not just from the mind) to activate heart coherence and hormones that help bring harmony and stability to your mental and emotional processes. Breathe the true feeling or attitude of appreciation through the area of your heart for a minute or two (without mentally multi-tasking as you do this). Taking coherence breaks also increases balance and resilience and helps you listen to your heart’s intuitive guidance on what else you need to do to release stress.

Practical Intuition – More than Just a Hunch

Intuition was once considered a mysterious gift bestowed on only a few. More recently, scientists are recognizing it as a skill that anyone can develop.

Most of us have had some experience with what we call a hunch, a heart feeling, gut feeling or just a sense of “inner knowing” in making decisions in business, or having a strong sense about something with our children or someone we care about, or even in everyday activities like an inner prompting to drive defensively.

At the center of this intuitive ability is the human heart. Once thought to be no more than a pump, the heart is now being recognized as a sophisticated intelligence whose power is only beginning to be scientifically understood.

Surprising new research is showing that the human heart is involved in accessing what is called non-local intuition. This research reveals that the heart receives intuitive information before the brain by a second or slightly more, according to published research conducted by the HeartMath Institute.

This unconscious perception can be seen in subtle changes in our emotions and body. For example, changes in our heart’s rhythm can occur with an intuitive feeling.

While the degree of access to the heart’s intuition varies from person to person, we all have access to it – and this intelligence can be cultivated.

Practical intuition is something we can use daily for moment-to-moment choices and decisions in life; in helping increase our sensitivity and care towards others – and in deepening our connections with ourselves and those we care about.

Researchers have found a significant relationship between increased heart rhythm coherence and becoming more sensitive to our intuitive signals. As we slow down our minds and attune to our deeper heart feelings, our natural intuitive connection begins to flow.

Listening to our intuitive signals unfolds more understanding of ourselves, others, and issues in life. This practical intuition is something we can access daily for making more effective choices and decisions.

Softly Speaking

Ever wonder why we shout when we are angry? This story* is one of the best explanations I’ve come across. Enjoy!

A Hindu saint who was visiting the River Ganges to take a bath found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other.

He turned to his disciples, smiled and asked, “Why do people shout in anger at each other?”

His disciples thought for a while and one of them said, “Because when we lose our calm we shout.”

“But why should you shout when the other person is just next to you?” asked the saint. “Can you just as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner?”

When some of the answers did not satisfy the others the saint finally explained, “When two people are angry at each other, their hearts are far apart. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the louder they will have to shout to hear each other to cover that great distance.”

“What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small.”

The saint continued, “When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.”

He looked at his disciples and said, “So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant. Do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.”

* Exerpt From http://www.Spiritual-Short-Stories.com

Take care,
Kim Allen

Reduce the Taxes of Financial Stress: Nine Tips for Relieving Money Worries

For millions of people, financial stress is eating away at their basic sense of security and well-being. And it’s not just bank accounts that are being drained, but also physical and emotional ressenting the people or issues you care about.ources, which in turn impact health, relationships, productivity and happiness.

Note: This article may be reprinted in its entirety. Permission to reprint is contingent on the inclusion of the attribution statement found at the end of this article. The content herein may not be modified or altered without written permission from HeartMath. Please send permission requests to [email protected].

Reduce the Taxes of Financial Stress
Nine Tips for Relieving Money Worries

Do you get a knot in your stomach when you sit down to pay the bills each month? Wake up in the middle of the night wondering how you’re ever going to get out of debt? Get a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness when you read headlines about the housing crisis, oil prices, soaring healthcare costs, inflation, recession and unemployment?

If you’re feeling worried and anxious about money, you’re not alone. For millions of people, financial stress is eating away at their basic sense of security and well-being. And it’s not just bank accounts that are being drained, but also physical and emotional resources, which in turn impact health, relationships, productivity and happiness.

Most of us believe if we just work harder, think harder and try harder, we can resolve our financial issues. But what if focusing more brainpower and effort in these problems actually gets us even further away from finding solutions? Instead of trying even harder to think our way through these problems, here’s an alternative approach to consider.

A different method for resolving your challenges involves releasing stress and allowing your intuition to help guide your thoughts and actions. By using tools to stop the continual loop of anxiety and fear, we actually free up energy to find new answers to old problems. Even when we can’t control our external situation, creating a balanced connection between the heart and brain helps reduce the internal taxes of scarcity and insecurity and opens new pathways in the problem-solving process.

Here are nine practical and affordable tips for relieving financial stress:

  • Take advantage of new technology. You may already use a sophisticated computer program to manage your personal and professional finances, but did you know there’s innovative stress reduction software available, too? Much like cell phones, PDA’s and mp3 players make life easier and more enjoyable, there are handheld devices that help you relieve stress. Why not use the latest digital tools to improve your quality of life?
  • Sit down and make a list of what you’re grateful for. It’s hard to feel anxious or scared while focusing on feelings of gratitude. Think about someone you appreciate, then, take a moment in your heart to feel appreciation for them. If you choose to, tell him or her. You’ll be surprised by the new energy you bring back to solving money issues by cultivating gratitude and expressing appreciation.
  • Approach your financial problems more objectively. If you were going to give advice to a person who was in a similar situation, what would it be? Stepping outside yourself enables you to see things more dispassionately, without being as invested in the outcome.
  • Shift your focus. Stop and remember the basic conveniences and luxuries you may take for granted. Much of the world lives in poverty and while it may sound simplistic, when we stop to think about someone much less fortunate, it puts our financial situations in a larger wholeness perspective.
  • Get to the heart of the matter. If you feel like you’re in an endless cycle of worry and angst, try the Cut-Thru® technique to help gradually release the accumulated anxiety caused by financial stress. To gain some immediate relief, you don’t need to sort through all the details of the issues you’re facing; simply address the perceptions, feelings and thoughts that come up while using this technique.
  • Don’t over-saturate yourself with bad news about the economy. While staying informed is important, taking in so much disturbing news day after day can lead to a growing sense of pessimism. Try to watch or read the financial news without getting lost in a negative mindset and look for stories that help stimulate more creative, optimistic thinking about money.
  • Don’t keep everything to yourself. Reach out to a friend who can help you gain a clearer perspective, but not necessarily one who will simply sympathize with your pain. Or find an expert you can talk to about your money issues who is knowledgeable and unbiased. Financial advisors and credit counselors can help take off some of the pressure and there are many free resources for financial advice.
  • Give some money away. It doesn’t matter how much. Whatever the amount, giving to someone in need or to a cause or charity you feel aligned with takes you out of self-centeredness and focuses compassion and caring on someone else. Knowing you have enough to share builds your own sense of personal empowerment.
  • Don’t punish yourself with blame or shame. Having financial difficulties does not equate to failure. Many times the circumstances are beyond your control. Freeing yourself from these disapproving feelings enhances your perception and intuition, allowing you to think better and more clearly. Despite a sense that things may always be this way, your current condition is not permanent. Change is constant and that includes your finances.

While money issues are real, they don’t have to destroy you. Letting go of stress, even for just a few minutes, can lead towards fresh ideas and new solutions. If you’re looking for greater prosperity and peace of mind, reducing stress is a risk-free financial strategy.

Copyright © 2008 HeartMath. Since 1991 HeartMath has been dedicated to decoding the underlying mechanics of stress. HeartMath is internationally recognized for their solutions to transform the stress of change and uncertainty, and bring coherence and renewed energy into people’s lives. Research and clinical studies conducted by HeartMath have examined emotional physiology, heart-brain interactions, and the physiology of learning and performance. Through their research they have demonstrated the critical link between emotions, heart function, and cognitive performance. HeartMath’s work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Cardiology, Stress Medicine, and Preventive Cardiology, as well as business journals such as Harvard Business Review and Leadership Excellence. HeartMath’s organizational clients include NASA, BP, Duke University Health System, Stanford Business School, Redken, Kaiser Permanente, Boeing, and Cisco Systems, as well as dozens of school systems and thousands of health professionals around the world. To learn more about HeartMath, go to www.heartmath.com.

Solution for Improving Relationships

The Meaning of Our Relationships

Our relationships with family, friends and loved ones are among the greatest joys in life. With them we view our lives as more complete, find greater meaning to our existence and some of us write eloquent tracts of poetry and prose in praise of them. Studies show the emotional support we get from friends and loved ones in our relationships has a positive effect on our cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and ultimately help us live longer.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926, A.A. Milne

When we lose, or never experience, loving and lasting relationships we see our lives as lacking and suffer – more than you may know. Research shows that regardless of age, culture or social status, people who lack close, meaningful relationships have a significantly higher risk of mortality, are more prone to disease and have lower survival rates after heart attacks. The effects on our health can be compared to high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise.
Lack of human companionship, chronic loneliness, social isolation and the sudden loss of a loved one are among the leading causes of premature death in America.
—Dr. James Lynch, Noted Psychologist, Author and Researcher on the Effects of Loneliness

Approximately 84% of Americans suffer emotional chaos, with men and women saying their three greatest sources of emotional chaos are their relationships with significant others, their children and people at the workplace.
—2002 Harris Poll

Glen and Jenny

Glen and Jenny were at the end of their rope, still fighting after seven years of marriage about things they’d disagreed on from the first day. Their marriage was surely on the rocks and though they didn’t believe they could save it alone, they wanted to do something. As a last ditch effort, they sought the help of a psychologist, who, instead of relying on traditional intervention methods – having them face and confront each other, etc. – suggested a new approach.

In the first session, Glen and Jenny learned the steps of HeartMath’s Freeze-Frame® technique, including disengaging from their thoughts and feelings when they began to argue, shifting focus to their hearts and ultimately sustaining a change in perception and feeling. Within days the fighting began to dissipate and they could speak without arguing, and after a few weeks “they began re-experiencing moments of the love and appreciation they felt when they first were married.”

Improving Relationships:

A HeartMath Institute e-booklet that explores the relationships of our lives, looks at some of the key mistakes we make that cause them to fail and offers proven tools to help them succeed, including the art of leading with the heart – not going head over heels out of pure emotion, but from an intelligent, self-secure place within the heart, where wisdom, intuition and understanding reside and can teach us, beginning with ourselves, to foster deeper, longer-lasting relationships.
» Learn More

Love and Friendship

That very first moment of recognition, the one when we know that fondness has turned to love, that we’ve made a genuine friend for life or that we suddenly understand the meaning of “family is forever,” is an occasion for celebration, one that can make us laugh or bring us to tears, sustain us through life’s trials and, at the end of the day, leave us content in the knowledge that we have a great fortune locked away somewhere deep in our hearts.

Lasting relationships, those honest, open and respectful are something HeartMath calls “authentic communication.” In fact, these are all elements of the mortar that holds together the foundations of our loves and friendships.

“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”

Swedish Proverb

A HeartMath TIP:

HeartMath has found that a simple way to enhance relationships with partners, friends and family is to always observe the following three courtesies when speaking with another person.

  • Words: Listen closely to the words being spoken to you.
  • Feelings: Try to determine what feelings are behind these words.
  • Essence: Appreciate the listener and try to understand the real meaning of the words.

Benefits of Strong, Meaningful Relationships

  • Less susceptibility to disease, increased survival rate from heart attack
  • Longer, healthier life
  • Wake up with more positive outlook, hopefulness
  • Increased vitality, zest
  • Life has greater meaning, purpose, richness
  • Feel more connected to people

Tools For Improving Relationships

Researchers and scientists at the HeartMath Institute have devoted many years to studying the human heart and the results of their work are profound: We now know that within the heart there resides great wisdom, intuition and intelligence. HeartMath has developed simple, straightforward and effective tools and techniques to teach you to harness the heart’s capacity to intelligently guide you in overcoming the stresses, disappointments and turmoil that confront us as we go through life.