It’s 11 a.m., and you can barely keep your eyes open.
It happened again.
You tried to prevent it.
You stopped drinking coffee before noon yesterday.
You turned off the TV and electronics at 9 p.m. and retreated to your soothing bedroom.
You did everything right, and you still couldn’t sleep.
Or, maybe you fell asleep easily like you always do, but woke up at 3 a.m. and didn’t doze off again until 20 minutes before your alarm.
Or, maybe you sleep well most of the time, unless it’s the night before a big presentation.
No matter what your sleep trouble is, it’s turning your life into a slog through waist-deep molasses.
Why the Conventional Solutions Aren’t Working
You’ve tried it all.
You’ve followed the expert advice on insomnia—eliminate stimulants and alcohol, no smartphone or TV in the bedroom, make your bedroom a place only for sleeping.
You may even have addressed physiological issues like sleep apnea.
Maybe you’re taking medications or supplements that should help.
And, yet, none of those external solutions is working.
That’s because they don’t address the one thing that is incompatible with sleep—something that is trapped inside you.
Your Internal Espresso Machine
Your body has a built-in mechanism to keep you safe. To keep you alive.
When you feel threatened, your body reacts with this “fight or flight” response.
Simply put, your body releases chemicals that prepare you to fight or flee from danger.
Think about how you feel when you combat something scary.
It’s the absolute opposite of feeling relaxed and sleepy, right?
It’s just what you need if a tornado is bearing down on you or you’re being chased by a bear.
And, your brilliant body knows how to turn it off once the external threat is gone.
But, what if that threat is trapped inside you?
The Menacing Bear Inside You
Think of something that makes you nervous.
Speaking in public? Trying something new? Going to the doctor?
Does your heart beat faster? Mouth get dry? Do you get shaky?
All symptoms of the fight or flight response.
Why would your body respond to public speaking, trying something new, or going to the doctor as if they were mortal threats?
It’s because your brain perceives a feeling trapped inside of you as a mortal threat, also.
The Threat That Never Goes Away
You’ve been living with this internal perceived threat since you were a baby.
It’s the feeling that there is something wrong with you being just the way that you are.
You absorbed this Learned Distress® early in life when people around you felt that same way, and it became trapped in your sense of self, which stores how you feel about being you.
Then, your sense of self became the automatic, generating force behind every moment in your life.
That means that each negative moment in your life is a replay of the negative feeling you absorbed when you were very young.
To recap—before you had any choice in the matter, you absorbed the feeling that there is something wrong with you, and now it’s generating all your negative moments, without your conscious input or control.
It’s horrible to be bombarded in every moment with the feeling that there’s something wrong with you.
So, your brain also developed ways to survive with it.
“There might be something wrong with me, but as long as I ___________, I’ll be OK.”
You probably know what fills in that blank for you—perhaps one of these survival mechanisms (and there are so many more):
- As long as I’m perfect, I’ll be OK.
- As long as I win, I’ll be OK.
- As long as I get people to like me, I’ll be OK.
- As long as I work really hard to make good things happen, I’ll be OK.
- As long as I keep things under control, I’ll be OK.
How Your Brain Responds to Learned Distress
The feeling that there’s something wrong with you comes in many flavors that trigger fight or flight.
“I’m not good enough,” “I don’t matter,” “I am incapable of achieving,” “I can’t be healthy no matter what I do,” and the list goes on.
And then, your survival mechanisms can be triggers, too.
Maybe you keep these negative feelings and pressures at bay by working hard and staying on the move during the day.
But then, as you’re winding down at night, relaxing out of your daytime momentum, Learned Distress and the pressure to overcome it come crashing in.
Just as you’re trying to get to sleep, the feeling that “there’s something wrong with me and I had better fix it immediately” turns on the internal espresso machine, and you are suddenly wide awake.
Or, maybe overcoming your Learned Distress wears you out enough that you can fall asleep easily, but then you wake up in the middle of the night, and the negative intensity takes over. Your mind races trying to address this perceived threat to your survival, and you can’t fall back asleep.
It Should Be a Simple Fix, Right?
Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, if it’s just a negative feeling plaguing me, I should just change how I feel. Easy!”
Have you ever tried to change how you feel about being you?
Tried to get rid of the feeling that you’re not good enough?
Lots of methods seem to promise that’s what they can do—the power of positive thinking, meditation, hypnosis, therapy.
Have you tried those things or even more? Has the feeling that there’s something wrong with you actually gone away?
Or, have you just understood that you shouldn’t feel that way anymore, but deep down, you still feel exactly the same?
That’s because your sense of self, which stores that feeling, isn’t open to change through your rational, awake brain.
Sleep Is the Key to Deep Change
“Uh oh!,” you’re thinking. “I already have trouble sleeping. If sleep is the secret to fixing this, I’m doomed!”
Keep reading. I was you 15 years ago, sleeping only a few hours at a time on my best nights. If this worked for me, it can work for you.
Mimi Herrmann, who discovered Learned Distress and how it becomes the internal source of our misery, also figured out how your brain can release it permanently. She and I worked together for five years to refine the process that finally allowed me to get a good night’s sleep.
When you’re awake (even if you’re meditating or under hypnosis), your rational, thinking brain puts up a wall of resistance to changing what is stored in your sense of self—how you feel about being yourself.
But, when you go to sleep, that wall of resistance comes down, because sleep is the time when your sense of self is being recharged.
You recharge on three main levels when you sleep: deep sleep (when your body releases the most human growth hormone) is for physical recharge and repair, the middle layer of sleep is for mental rejuvenation, and the fastest level of sleep brain wave activity, REM sleep (when you dream), is for recharging your sense of self.
Your brain recharges this storage bank with the way you felt during the day you just lived.
Quite often, that means you recharge with Learned Distress, and that renewed negative intensity turns your life into repeating patterns of the same negative feelings and situations.
Recharging with Natural Well-Being
Your sense of self also contains the opposite of Learned Distress—the feeling that you are all good being just as you are, what I call natural well-being.
The Quanta Change® process gives you a way to tell your sleeping brain that you want to recharge with this good feeling, instead of your Learned Distress.
The process contains three integral elements:
1. Sleeping with a specially designed recording which is a generic message to your sleeping brain for change.
2. Having regular sessions with a Quanta Change Guide to understand your Learned Distress and ongoing cycles of change.
3. Shifting how you feel in your negative moments during the day, which tells your sleeping brain the specific changes you want it to make for you.
These elements bring about a repeating cycle of change, and each time you go through a cycle, you permanently unlearn a layer of Learned Distress.
As each layer peels away, it leaves space for your natural well-being to expand into its rightful place as the automatic, generating force in your life.
What Quanta Change Feels Like
Have you ever started a day with the thought that if you work really hard, you could make horrible things happen? Probably not. Negative moments are effortless because they’re generated automatically from Learned Distress.
As well-being becomes the more predominant generating force in your life, the more good moments happen just that effortlessly.
The first change troubled sleepers experience is usually better sleep. That was my experience when I started my own process 15 years ago.
But, since poor sleep is just a side effect of Learned Distress, better sleep comes about by unlearning your most intense negative feelings.
As that negative intensity comes down layer by layer, people say things like, “I feel a greater sense of underlying peace, and I haven’t done anything like meditate or use my affirmations to get there. I just feel better.”
As they address specific pieces of Learned Distress, they say things like, “I don’t know how it happened, but that thing I’ve always worried about just isn’t a big deal, anymore.” Sometimes, they say they barely remember that big worry existed, at all.
And, as the negative intensity is reduced, so are the negative situations that it has generated. Things start working better—in relationships, at work, in daily life, in terms of physical health—without controlling or *making* them happen.
One client who wanted to address sleep has found that not only is she getting to sleep more easily and going back to sleep easily when she wakes up in the middle of the night, but her frequency of migraines has changed from almost daily to sporadic and when they do occur, they’re much less intense. For the first time in years, she has the energy to exercise, and she can exercise and work on the same day without landing in bed for the next three days straight. Her personal relationships have improved and she is experiencing greater success in her professional life, as well as being recognized in new ways for doing the same excellent level of work she has always done, but that no one has seemed to notice, until now.
Are You Ready for Better Sleep and a Better Life?
Maybe you’re thinking that this sounds like a lot of work just to sleep better.
We’ve probably all wished for a pill that would fix some deep set problem.
Quanta Change is no magic wand, but clients tell me that after decades of working on themselves, it is the best thing they’ve ever done and they’ve never felt so good.
Are you ready to have deep positive changes in your life with better sleep as the “side effect”?
Are you ready to see what greater contribution you can make to your family, your community, and your world when you’re not just struggling to stay awake all day?
Good sleep really is possible for you, and I hope you’re ready to find out how much better life can be, as a result.
Sara Avery helps people get unstuck in their relationships, health, career, and self-expression. Learn how she can help you tackle your biggest challenges.