Dr Nerina Ramlakhan is the UK’s leading sleep therapist, a physiologist and energy expert with over 25 years of experience. She has recently published her book, Fast Asleep Wide Awake and shares some of her own experiences with us in her confessions.
I used to have a severe sleep problem – when I was 6 months old my mother was taking me from one doctor to the next to get some help. Nothing worked.
I learnt how to sleep deeply, beautifully, amazingly – when I was in my early 30s. This was as a result of studying the brain and sleep for my doctorate, working with thousands of people with sleep problems from stressed out mums to professional footballers.
I still occasionally go through phases when I don’t sleep brilliantly. If I neglect writing for too long it affects my sleep. My sleep becomes noisy and filled with dreams – always a sign that I need to get back to journaling and being creative.
I can cope remarkably with bad sleep – we put so much pressure on ourselves to sleep well every night and human beings are remarkably resourceful and well-equipped to deal with occasional bad sleep. If we weren’t we’d probably be extinct as a species! We also get our energy from how we eat, move, breathe, drink, nurture our relationships. I believe the greatest source of energy comes from living life with meaning and purpose.
I don’t believe sleep problems are always about sleep – often there’s a deeper underlying cause such lack of meaning and purpose (as I’ve mentioned above).
I’m constantly learning more about this amazing process called sleep. And I’m passionate about finding new ways of helping people to understand why they might not be sleeping.
My work is about helping people to slow down and rest deeply but I’m also passionate about the counterbalance – movement. I’ve done 7 marathons and over 35 triathlons. I don’t do them anymore but I go for much shorter runs, practice yoga and the love of my life is climbing (both indoors and outdoors).
I got lost in the Portuguese mountains for 6 hours while working on a yoga retreat last May. I couldn’t resist going for a run in the mountains and went out without taking a phone or telling anyone. It got very dark and I tried to sleep in an abandoned farmhouse but kept hearing strange animal noises so I kept walking. Eventually I found the retreat at midnight. I’m not sure how I did it and it was the most terrifying but empowering experience I’ve ever been through.
I sometimes bend the rules and find myself on my phone far too late at night or eat chocolate before bedtime. We can’t be perfect all the time and I do aim to get it right most of the time especially if I’ve got an important event the next day.
I always say three words when I turn my light out at night – ‘I love you’. I’m not always sure who or what I’m saying this too – I definitely love my bed and pillows but I also love life and feel deeply grateful for all the opportunities and challenges I’m given – even the toughest ones.
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