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Tag Archives: sleep

A common question I get (at work, not while I’m just walking down the street) is “How should I sleep?”  And let me just preface this by saying that getting a good night’s sleep, consistently, is more important, in my book, than what position you sleep in.  So if what you’re doing is working for you, do that.  Being well rested makes everything else better and easier.

However.  If you really want to know how you should sleep, keep reading.

First of all, there’s no “right” way to sleep.  Other than with your eyes closed.  Because those of you who sleep with your eyes slightly open are creeping out the rest of us.  Knock it off.  But as far as body positioning goes, all of the positions are good to some degree and bad if they’re the only one you ever use.  The truth of the matter is that we were never supposed to lie down in one position and then maintain that position for the next 7-10 hours without any change. In fact, lying in the same position without moving is how bedsores happen and I don’t know anyone who wants bedsores.  While humans have been seeking soft places to sleep for a long time now, it’s only with the advent of these pillow-topped, memory foam, sleep-number, super mattresses that it’s even been an option to lie in one position for 7-10 hours.  Can you imagine your prairie grass or buffalo hair mattress would be comfortable enough for you to lie still on all night, every night?  No, me either.

What I’m saying here is it’s okay to move while you sleep.  In fact, I’m encouraging you to move while you sleep.  Whichever side you’re sleeping on will be compressed, while the side that’s up will be allowed to lengthen.  Let all the sides (and the front and the back) have their chance at both.  Movement is your friend.  So go ahead, stick your legs and arms out at weird angles, spoon your bedmates, and stretch your neck by sleeping on your stomach now and again.  Just keep it varied and you’ll be good to go.

And if your body needs some encouragement to move while you sleep, you might try a firmer or less comfortable mattress.  Yes, it will take a while for you to adjust, but it’s probably worth it to avoid the damage done by repetitive positioning.  You don’t want to be that person who has to go around telling people they got hurt in their sleep by not moving, do you?  That’d be embarrassing.

So, a few months ago, I wrote about how common and normal and not-at-all-a-problem it is for people to fall asleep during sessions with me.  And that’s still true.  But what about if you don’t fall asleep when you get Rolfed?  What about the times when the healing trance isn’t forcing your eyes to close and your breathing to slow?  Should you just think about your grocery list and that email you still have to send and what time yoga class starts tomorrow?  Well, obviously, you can think about whatever you’d like during a session.  But if I had my druthers, you would leave all those thoughts outside the office, to be picked up again on your way out, if you so choose.  And instead of thinking about what happened before your session, or what will happen after your session, maybe you could choose to focus on what is happening, right now, during your session.

I like to think of it as meeting me from the inside.  Wherever I’m working, bring your awareness there.  For some people, that means bringing your breath to that place.  Trying to breathe air and space into the tissues I’m working on.  For others, imagining light coming into those muscles or tendons is a better image.  I know some of my clients like to picture everything getting super juicy and extra-hydrated, like the tissues are water balloons, slowly being filled up.  For me, I literally imagine a piece of my brain breaking off (don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt) and traveling down to my leg or my abdomen or wherever to bring its wisdom to that area.  I’m sure there are a gazillion different ways to meet me from the inside, but whatever image works best for you, go with that one.

The thing is Sassypants, you and me, we work better as a team.  There’s only so much I can do on my own.  And while I don’t mind if you think about your grocery list, your session will be more effective if you’re working toward the same goals I am during your sessions.  If I’m pressing on your quads, asking for length, and you’re also asking on the inside for your quads to lengthen, chances are, your quads are going to lengthen; and it’s not going to take as long, or hurt as much, as it would have if I’d done it all myself.  So if for no other reason than to avoid pain, next time you’re in, try to meet me from the inside.  See how it goes!

I get the same question all the time.  And it’s about time I just laid it out for you, Sassy Pants, plain and simple, once and for all.  The question is not, “How do you do that magic that you do!?” or “How did you get into Rolfing in the first place?” although that’s a common one.  Maybe next week’s post can get into that.  Unfortunately for both you and me, the most common question is not “Can I schedule ten more sessions right now?”  Wanna know what the most popular question of all time (in my practice) is?  Well, of course you do, so here it is:  Does anybody ever fall asleep during a session?

And the answer, of course, is yes.  Yes; a million times over, yes.  People fall asleep during sessions all the time and it’s perfectly normal and acceptable and nothing to be embarrassed about.  In fact, of the close to 50 Rolfing sessions I’ve received in the last four years since I first tried it out, I’ve probably stayed awake through three of them.  Possibly.  Maybe it was only the two.  I lost count with all the sleeping I was doing in between.

The thing is, I want you to be engaged during your sessions with me.  I want you to show up ready to meet me halfway.  I can only change what you’ve allowed me to change.  And you can do more from the inside than I can do from the outside.  Part of the whole point of this work is embodiment, meaning that your consciousness is in and related to your body.  If you’re hungover from a rough night, disassociation (the opposite of embodiment)  may be the most comfortable option for you, and that’s no good for me.  So, yes, I want you to be present and participating in the work we do together.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t fall asleep.

Huh?

Well, first of all, my goal is to bring about health.  And if you’re sleep deprived, like most people in this country today, then sleep may be the quickest way to bring about health.  So go for it.  More power to you.

Secondly, I don’t think it always has to do with sleep deprivation when you (or I) fall asleep on the table.  I still fall asleep during sessions and I use an alarm to wake up about four times a year, so I don’t think I’m sleep deprived.  I still fall asleep while getting Rolfed immediately after a large cup of coffee and I’m so sensitive to caffeine I usually don’t sleep well at midnight if I had black tea at 8am.  So I think there’s more to it than tiredness.  I think sometimes (often) with a good session of bodywork, big shifts can happen not only in the structure, but on the emotional, spiritual, mental, and energetic side of things as well.  And as we let go of certain traumas and blockages, the ego may try to get in the way, claiming it needs to hold onto that issue for whatever reason.  “I have a bad back” may be part of your story.  And if we shift things so that’s no longer true, your ego may feel a little frantic, wondering how you’ll define yourself in the future.  “I was abused” may be true, but if we let go of the painful trauma around that, will you still be you?  Your ego might not think so.  And so, when your body is making big shifts in the direction of health, it might be helpful to get your ego out of the way.  And so, you “fall asleep” or go into what some people call a healing trance.  You’re still conscious enough to stretch your right arm out, or roll over onto your stomach if I ask you to.  But you’re not conscious enough to fight what your body needs.

At least, that’s how I justify all the sleeping I do during sessions.  You can come up with your own excuses, if you’d prefer.  Regardless, know that, yes, plenty of people fall asleep during sessions, and I don’t mind if you snore.

Hey Sassy Pants, happy Tuesday!  Yoga Instructor Appreciation Week starts on Thursday and I’m totally pumped!  It’s filling up quickly (only 8 spots left out of 30 available openings!) and I’m so grateful to you for all your help in spreading the word to the yoga teachers in your life.  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Now, let’s get down to it.  This issue seems to keep coming up lately, so I thought I’d address it here, out in the open.  What happens after a Rolfing session?  What should you expect?  I know we talked a little bit about this after your first session.  You may have gotten an email with lots of details, depending on when you started working with me.  But let’s just go over it all again, ‘cause some weird shit can happen after you get Rolfed, I’m not gonna lie.

First, let’s cover the basics.
-You might be very thirsty.  We are trying to make your tissues extra juicy, afterall.  I know it’s hard to believe, but you should drink some water if this happens.  Weird, right?
-You might crave protein.  Fascia is a protein matrix and as we move it around, you might need some extra oomph to fill in the gaps.  If this happens, you should eat some steak or beans.  This stuff is so complicated, I know.
-You might want to sleep for 12 hours straight.  You should follow this impulse.  I’m not sure why this happens, but I have two theories.  One, your nervous system is finally coming out of its perpetual ‘fight or flight’ state and would now like to take some time off.  Two, your body would like to integrate some pretty major changes and would like your logical brain out of the way because it keeps interrupting with things like, “That doesn’t make any sense!  Your head can’t feel different; she only worked on your feet!”  So your body says to your brain, “sssshhhhh…why don’t you take a nap…a really long nap?”  Either way, if you’re tired; sleep.
-You might be sore, like you would be after a good, hard workout.  Arnica, an epsom salt bath, lots of water, and rest are all good ideas.
-You might notice your balance and perception have changed.  You might be standing differently on your feet or holding your head in a different place.  Hooray!  Just be careful as you begin to do things like operate a car or workout.  You might want to lay off the gym for 24-48 hours after your session, just to be safe.
-That thing that always hurts?  It doesn’t hurt anymore.  I think I’m legally bound to say that the relief of symptoms is NOT one of the goals of Rolfing.  But let’s be honest, I’m not going to complain if your pain goes away, and neither are you.

Let’s get a little weirder, shall we?  These things are a little less common, but by no means unique.
-You might feel a little dizziness or light-headedness.  Please tell me about this before you leave the room.  We can work on that.  I don’t want you falling down the stairs.
-You might have small, sharp pains in different places in your body.  This is what happens when sheets of fascia shear away from each other because your body is changing its posture.  This is a good thing, as fascia shouldn’t be glued together, it should glide.  When this happens, it feels a little like a bandaid’s being ripped off, on the inside.  It shouldn’t last more than a second or two and should fade over the next 48 hours.
-You might feel like you’re gliding, instead of walking.  That’s awesome.  Work it.
-You might feel taller, or more expansive, like you’re taking up all the space in your body.  Words don’t do justice to this feeling, but it’s amazing, so if you’ve got it, live it up.
-You may feel a bit drunk or stoned.  Yes, that’s normal.  Again, be careful if you’re going to drive.  Or send texts to your exes.
-You may feel stronger or easier, if that makes any sense.  I have often finished getting a session and thought, I could walk all day!  I feel invincible!  I hope you sometimes experience that, too.
-You might experience an emotional roller coaster.  Usually, there are issues in the tissues.  And when we go stirring up the tissues, we stir up the issues.  Waves of whatever you don’t need anymore can hit you on their way out.  If you need to cry, then by all means, cry.  Pop in The Color Purple if you need a little help getting started.
-My mom says she feels all rolled out, like with a rolling pin.  Or spread out, like pancake batter.  Maybe you’ll feel this, too.  Maybe my mom’s just got food on the brain.
-You might be more flexible.  That yoga pose you always struggle with is suddenly a breeze.  You can touch your toes for the first time in years.  We’re trying to increase the length in your body, so this just means we’ve done a good job during your session.  Yay!

On to the extra odd.  Yes, indeedy, this Rolfing business is a strange one.
-You may notice that your dreams shift in quality as you do a series of Rolfing sessions.  Ida Rolf, when pressed, once said that Rolfing was really shamanism, but what did she know?  You may have more of a “journey-like” quality to your dreams for a period of time.  Keeping a dream journal could be an interesting experience, if you’re up for it.
-If you’ve had a particularly intense session, you may experience some out-of-body time, as disassociation can be a way to take a time-out from what’s happening.  Again, tell me about this before you leave, please.  This doesn’t make for safe operation of heavy machinery.

That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m sure I’ve missed a few.  Have you experienced some Rolfing aftermath that should be on the list?  Could you please remind me?  Or, do you have a crazy story about experiencing any of the above?  I’d love to hear about it!  Feel free to shoot me an email, or post it right here by leaving a comment.

And if you experience anything out of the ordinary that’s NOT on this list, please, please, please tell me about it.  I do free touch-up sessions if something’s just not integrating quite right.  As usual, thanks for reading.  Until next time, much love!