For an increasing number of people, no matter how exhausted you happen to be, the land of nod remains elusive, and the reason for its evasiveness seems equally unfathomable … unless that is, you happen to know Tej Samani.
With 10 years of firsthand experience with insomnia and as a former tennis pro who knows all too well the importance of sleep to improve athletic performance, Samani is the man making us all snore – in the nicest possible way, with an approach that’s a far cry from the traditional sleeping pill solution and focuses on long term results.
So after studying seven schools of psychology and developing his own theories, what does he know that the rest of us don’t? “The body has its own rhythm, and a lot of people working with sleep look at the effects – which is why you are prescribed sleeping pills. We go to the source and look at the Autonomic Nervous System to gauge how the body recovers – sleep is responsible for organ function and bone growth so its effectiveness can be measured by looking at that over a 24-hour period.” Something of a frightening concept, but an insight into the detrimental effects of long term sleep deprivation – which materialises in the increased likelihood of colds, flu, type-2 diabetes, a lower IQ, heart attacks, and more wrinkles – because sleep deprivation slows down collagen production.
Expanding on his aphorism ‘unlearn your sleep challenges’, what Samani is keen to emphasise is that sleeplessness is actually often one of the later symptoms of problems that have been bubbling under the physical or psychological surface for quite some time: “It can be up to seven years with other things happening in the body before sleep manifests itself as a problem, so a lot of what we do is preventative as well. Most people fall into two categories – there are those who are always thinking about something, so they know it is literally a sleep thing, and there are those who know it isn’t in their head but don’t know why there is a problem – I work with a lot of mums who had traumatic labours maybe five years ago and suddenly seem to develop a problem.”
So how does his programme work? “The first thing we do is put you on a 24-hour monitor. The heart is like a little brain and it has memory, so when we monitor it we can essentially see how the past three or four years of your life have played out. From that we can look at the problem and implement a 30-day plan. For some people it’s psychological, for some it’s physical but everything in the body is about cause and effect so internal damage is going to appear at a later stage – that’s why I have traders coming to me who sleep very little and irregular hours for 25-30 years and suddenly have a problem – if you go against your body it will have a detrimental effect as it almost physiologically forgets how to sleep.”
As we are taught that being able to sleep is about being able to ‘switch off’, Samani’s theory is a tricky one to get your head around, but equally it makes a lot of sense: “Changing behaviour is a lot about seeing patterns, so if you look back and try to identify changes in your lifestyle you will probably be on the way to figuring out the cause and solution.”
With the goal of a long term solution however, Samani is keen to point out that his methods are not a quick fix – it can take anything from a month to six months to really see results, depending on how long you have been suffering for – yet another indicator that sleep deprivation has a cumulative effect.
Ultimately, what comes across when talking to Samani is that not only is this a subject that he knows a lot about, but one that he has a huge amount of empathy with, given his own experiences. His concern is about overall health and long term fitness rather than stop-gap bandages. If that isn’t the kind of credentials you are looking for, then a long list of royal, celebrity and athlete names (the details of which he is too polite to divulge) might just do the trick as well … of course, chances are that if you are one of around 30% of people who struggle to sleep at night then the only thing that really matters will be the testimonies of his previous clients … which read like a very promising bed time story complete with a happily ever after.
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