I remember the day I heard about Michael Jackson’s death. It was on June 27, 2009, two days after it happened. I was flying home from an intensive week-long course where I hadn’t had access to news of any kind. What I remember most as I watched the story unfold on an airport T.V., is not the grief at losing this talented performer well before his time, or anger at his doctor for irresponsibly providing a deadly combination of drugs, but compassion and understanding toward the King of Pop.
At the time, Michael Jackson and I shared a malady: we had both spent decades struggling to fall asleep at night. Despite unlimited funds for medical care, Michael could not find a cure because conventional medicine does not have healthy answers for insomnia. The usual course of treatment — pharmaceuticals — got out of hand. Michael died of an overdose of Propofol combined with other sedatives. Propofol is a powerful anesthetic administered intravenously in hospitals to induce and maintain anesthesia during surgery. It is not designed or approved for individual use at home. Michael’s personal physician, however, had been administering the drug to him regularly so that he could fall asleep at night.
I had just spent a week averaging only 2-3 hours of sleep each night, which was a typical, even expected reaction for me whenever I spent time away from home learning something new. I was exhausted and achy from my week of inadequate sleep. When I learned the details of Michael’s death, I completely understood why someone would be desperate enough to turn to such powerful sleep inducing drugs.
I once had my own 4-year stint with sleeping pills, ending only when they stopped working. The rebound insomnia was some of the worst I had ever experienced and it took almost a full year to stabilize after it. Another option would have been to keep taking more and more powerful drugs until finding something as strong and dangerous as Propofol. I imagine that is how Michael ended up needing such a strong drug to do what our bodies were intended to do naturally every night. I had turned one way and he had turned the other, yet still I understood all too well the desperation of needing sleep more than anything and simply not being able to get it.
Finally, a couple years after Michael’s death, I found what I had been searching for over the course of almost thirty years — something that reliably and naturally helps me sleep each night. That something is EFT, which stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques and is better known as “tapping.” While it may seem silly at first to tap on various points of your body while saying certain phrases out loud, I can assure you it is the best long-term remedy for insomnia I know of. Chronic insomnia is generally caused by the body’s response to stress, and EFT is a technique which naturally soothes and calms the nervous system. Here’s how it compares head to head with sleeping pills:
• Unlike sleeping pills, which override or suppress stress responses in the body using chemicals, EFT naturally calms the body from within, allowing the nervous system to return to a state of homeostasis – the state where deep stages of sleep occur.
• The very best sleeping pills can do is to temporarily mask symptoms, while completely ignoring the causes. EFT, on the other hand, effectively alleviates both symptoms and causes.
• While sleeping pills disturb the body’s chemistry and can often have unpleasant or dangerous side effects and/or withdrawal symptoms, EFT clears out blockages from the whole system and supports overall health.
• Best of all, while sleeping pills create a psychological dependence on something outside yourself, EFT promotes self-understanding and true empowerment. You are no longer a victim of your body and can and deal with whatever comes your way.
• As an added bonus, once you master the technique, you can use it on yourself anywhere, anytime. This is especially nice for insomniacs who tend to need help most at odd hours in the morning when it is inappropriate to call anyone else. I know I often yearned to call my various therapists in the middle of the night and it was such a powerful shift to help myself.
Another thing Michael Jackson and I had in common was late night music rehearsals. These are hard on insomniacs both because they are stimulating in themselves and because the music tends to keep going in your head long after the rehearsal has ended. For years I thought to myself at 2:00a.m., “If I only had an off-button!” Finally, I do. Meditation and other relaxation techniques never seemed to work because I couldn’t clear my mind of this music long enough to relax. Tapping on the frustration of this interminable loop of music, however, works like a charm. One or two rounds and it is silenced. I can’t help thinking Michael could have benefited from this too.
Who’s to say whether EFT could have saved Michael Jackson’s life. Every person has their own path. If you, however, struggle with sleep on a regular basis, I highly recommend looking into EFT. You have nothing to lose — except maybe your insomnia!