Delphi (pronounced Del-phee) Ellis is the author of Answers in the Dark: Grief, Sleep, and How Dreams Can Help You Heal. She is a qualified counselor, well-being trainer, and mindfulness practitioner. Her therapeutic background is in bereavement, having supported those mainly bereaved by murder and suicide. This conversation talks about dreams, sleep, grief, and finding answers in the dark.
Her website is: https://delphiellis.com
Brian Smith 0:01
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Thank you so much for having me today.
Hey everybody, this is Brian. I’m back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I’ve got with me, Delphi Ellis and Delphi has written a really interesting book about sleep. And sleep as a subject that I know is near and dear to a lot of our hearts, especially people that have gone through grief or going through grief. And we’re going to talk about some of the myths about sleep today. I just finished your book yesterday. It’s a fascinating book. So we’ll talk about it and bring it bring it into a second. But first one to finish your introduction. She’s the author of the book is called answers in the dark, grief sleep and how dreams can help you heal. She’s a qualified counselor. She’s a well being trainer, and a mindfulness practitioner. And our therapeutic background is in bereavement. And she’s so part of mainly those bereaved by murder and suicide. She helps people find their mojo and get the sparkle back, especially after a difficult time in their life in their lives. So with that I want to bring in Delphi Ellis Welcome to grief to growth.
As I was saying, Delphi I think this is I know this is a topic that is near and dear to a lot of our hearts. We’re going through a lot of us are going through grief. Now for various reasons, we’re going to talk about what are some grief events that can cause that. But what got you interested in dealing with sleep and dreams.
Delphi Ellis 2:37
So, therapeutically, I actually started working with people about 20 years ago. And following my own experience of bereavement, I just naturally kind of moved into that area of wanting to help people find their way through such a difficult time. And it just so happened because of the way that I was working with people at the time. The majority of people that I worked with was, as you say, bereaved by murdering suicide. It wasn’t by design it it just kind of happened that way. So I ended up volunteering and supporting people in Coroner’s Court and supporting people through the inquest process, which was, you know, as you can imagine, it’s such a devastating time and as you know, and but before that, I actually had a childhood where I grew up in an environment where we talked about stuff like this. So it was very natural growing up, I remember being asked around the breakfast table, what dreams I’d had the night before. And it was only really when I went to school, and I was you know, actively talking about the dreams that I’d had. And I remember my friends sort of looking at me, like, what is she talking about, you know, as if, as if I was kind of a weird one. But to me that was perfectly natural. It was it was natural to be talking about our dreams and our sleep experiences and the nighttime experiences we have so so that’s really what happened was when I found myself working with people that were grieving, very quickly, I realized that when the time was right, they wanted to first of all they wanted to, as I call it helped people get their sparkle back. But second of all, they wanted to talk to me about the dreams that they were having, especially some of the dreams that were so vivid and so clear to them. And they just wanted to find ways forward from that. So that’s kind of how I fell into it. And and I’ve been doing it ever since. Well, I think there’s I said there’s three really interesting topics here. There’s grief, there’s dreams, and there’s sleep and I want to I do want to get deeper into all those. But you mentioned that you had a bereavement event yourself that that interrupts your sleep when that happens. Yeah, so I was very young when that happened. I was actually 18 years old when my dad died. And it was it was one of those it was unexpected when I look back on it now I know that it was it was gonna happen and but at the time
I’m certainly in 18 years old, I, you know, I had, I was not ready for that. And so it really, if I’m being totally honest, it changed the whole trajectory of my life. I think had my dad not died when he did. And I think I would have probably just certainly probably not moved into the arena that I’m in now, and certainly not with the intensity, you know, of the work that I do now. So, so yeah, it’s fair to say that that experience changed the whole trajectory of my life. And so, at the time, yeah, I know, for a fact that my dreams then, and certainly my sleep would would have been, you know, impacted by that. Yeah, I think, you know, it’s, there’s, sleep is just a weird thing. And we’ll talk about, you know, how we all we want to go to sleep. But sometimes we have trouble going to sleep and when we are asleep, gets disturbed by events like that. And again, we talked before we start recording my audience is people that have been through grief. And a lot of times, let’s talk about how grief can affect our sleep patterns. So if you if you would, yeah, so one of the things I talk about in the book is I have this whole section called under grief. And it’s about recognizing that loss shows up for us in so many different ways, even without anybody dying. So we can experience the loss of when we’re made redundant, for example, from our jobs, or when a relationship breaks down. That’s the kind of loss that we can experience throughout our lives. But because generally speaking, and certainly in the UK, experiences like that just aren’t recognized as grief, they’re seen as these everyday experiences, we just keep calm and carry on and try and navigate our way forward without there being any impact. But of course, that’s that’s not the case. You know, the, one of the things I talk about is how grief often rests underneath awareness, if we’ve not been given permission to talk about our grief experiences, however, that showed up, whether it was the loss of a loved one, whether it was
the relationship breakdown, divorce, redundancy, all those kinds of things. If we haven’t been given permission to talk about that loss, and how it’s affected us, it will just rest underneath awareness. And of course, during the day, we’re very busy keeping ourselves preoccupied so that we don’t have to think about the things that are troubling us during the day. But one of the quotes I use in the book is that it’s like a hole that we dance around during the day, but fall into at night. So we will find ourselves at night, you know, our bed becomes this magical place that reminds us of all the things we haven’t done today, but also brings to the surface these experiences that we either haven’t processed or we weren’t given permission to talk about. And so we find ourselves at night, as I call it in the book, I call it going down the plug cold, and it’s dark down there. And we can find ourselves in these almost tormented places where we just can’t process or navigate these experiences, because we’re not being given permission to do that during the day. So that for me is how it shows up in our sleep where we would, you know, we’re having these difficult lifetime experiences. And one of the things that I make the distinction about in answers in the dark is that there are things that we do during the day that we know affect our sleep, you know, we know that if we drink too much caffeine, or we exercise before bedtime, or you know, we eat too late, we know that’s going to affect our quality of sleep at night. But I talk in the book about situational insomnia as I as I refer to it. And that’s very much it’s not so much about what you’re doing that’s stopping you sleeping, but what’s happening to you. And I think that’s how that’s in the book where I kind of emphasize this how grief rests underneath awareness and stop sleeping.
Brian Smith 8:49
Yeah, you talked in the book, use a term called disenfranchised grief, which is the first time I’ve heard that So explain to me what that is.
Delphi Ellis 8:56
So disenfranchised grief is essentially where society doesn’t accept our reasons for grieving or doesn’t consider why we’re grieving as a reasonable reason to grieve. So for example, a redundancy or a relationship breakdown society might not accept that as a reasonable reason for us to be upset. So people will often say and I talk a lot about this in the book about how people often come out with these really unhelpful platitudes. Like you know, there’s plenty more fish in the sea or you know, they’re they’re better off without you. And you’re actually when we’re in the thick of that pain, those kinds of phrases they just those cliches don’t work for us. But yeah, disenfranchised grief is very much about what society deems to be unacceptable reasons to grieve and yet they’re all valid and and I make this point in in the book that all grief is valid, there may be different experiences of grief and sometimes we might compare our experiences of grief to someone else’s sometimes that can be helpful, sometimes not. But an example of disenfranchised grief that more and more people are recognizing is the death of a pet. So when a beloved dog dies, that’s been part of the family for 15 years.
You know, I’ve heard so many people have said to me that they’ve been met with this wall of, but it’s just an animal. And of course, to that person grieving that pet was so so, so much more than that. And so that’s an example of disenfranchised grief and how it shows up where, you know, I’ve, I’ve known of people in the LGBTQ community, where, you know, a woman’s wife has died. And her family have, you know, said really unhelpful things to her like, well, at least now you can have a proper marriage, because they didn’t accept the marriage that she had before. And so that’s an example of how these, you know, these, these experiences can show up and that society doesn’t acknowledge or accept that person’s reason for grieving. And of course, that in itself, causes them the grief to go underground. So that person doesn’t feel that they can grieve for the person that they’ve loved and lost, then they, their grief will go underground. And that in itself can lead to other problems. You know, inhibited grief, for example, is an example of how our grief shows up as a physical illness. Because we haven’t been able to process it, we haven’t been able to talk about it, and so we might become unwell. So yeah, that disenfranchised grief is something I’m seeing more and more of where people just don’t just aren’t given permission by society to grieve for the things that they’ve lost and loved. Yeah, I thought that was a great point you made in the book and how we can even things other people might not see as a loss that we could see as a loss. And then and as you said, every feeling is valid, you know, so for people to invalidate what was just a pet or, you know, people even moving, you know, and losing losing friends that you might have had in the past, people might say, well, you really lose them. But it’s a it’s a change, and it feels like a loss of it feels like a loss. It really is. Yeah, exactly that and and I think the point you made about moving home, for example, one of the things I talked about in the book is when a child leaves home to go to university or to college. And, you know, so many certainly moms I speak to will say that, you know, they talk about this empty nest syndrome, where that, you know, they’ve got this empty house or this empty room. And for them it is a lot of it is a bereavement. And I’ve known, you know, parents that have cried and cried, even though as you said, even though that child is still available to them, you know, with the aid of modern technology, that that child is just a zoom call or a telephone call away. But they’re nevertheless it’s it’s that whole thing about what it means for that child to leave home and begin a new life elsewhere. So it’s valid. And I think it’s so important as a society that we recognize that as grief, and that we talk about it as such, it’s not the same as perhaps another person’s grief, but it’s still valid. Yeah, I completely agree. And what I remember when my daughter graduated from high school and went to college, and I, there was a grief event for me and I cried, and you’re, it’s like, because it’s, it’s not that they’re not available to you, it’s the end of a phase, it’s a change of status in your life, you know, they’re never going to they’ll come home, and they’ll visit. But now it’s a visit. It’s different. And so I think it’s really important, as you said, to, to acknowledge people when we’re going through that, and for people that are going through it ourselves to say, Okay, I have feelings about this, and I need to process them. Because the I love what you’re talking about, like when you go to bed at night, that’s where you can’t hide anymore. That’s where That’s where all those thoughts start to come back to you. And as you’re trying to come quiet your mind down. That’s when they’re gonna come out. Yeah, exactly that. And interestingly, as well is even those experiences for example of a child leaving home to go to university as an adult. And people will actually have dreams at that point that their child has died. And you can you can imagine, you know, it just creates that, that feelings of devastation. And actually people worry that that means that dream is going to come through. And actually the dream is more likely a reflection of that feeling of loss, you know, that devastation of the feeling of loss, even though and that’s one of the things I emphasize in the book about how grief shows up, even if no one has died, and it can show up in our dreams as much as it can with our lack of sleep. Yes. And I think it’s an excellent point you made in the book about those dreams of a loss of someone or an impending disaster or something. So talk about about that if I have a dream or someone’s died, how should I take that? So in the book, I talk about these different types of lost dreams that people have, and they can show up like 1000 different ways they can show up as we dream about the death of a loved one and actually that’s more likely a fear of loss or fear of losing that person. Of course, some people as you know, they will have dreams about that person that has
died and they will, you know, they will have that experience where they are dreaming about their loved one who has died. And those are what we refer to as visitation dreams where the person that we’ve loved and lost appears to us in a dream, they appear to us perhaps healthy and well, and they’re reassuring us that everything’s going to be okay. And those are very beautiful, very spiritual, and quite powerful dreams, actually, in the terms of our recovery and how we find our way forward. So death dreams can can show up in many different ways. And the most traditional meaning of a death dream, are you dreaming about someone that hasn’t died, but we’re dreaming that they’ve died, is, is about change. And it’s about recognizing change and how it shows up. So for many people, if they’re having a dream about a loved one that they really care about, and they’ve dreamt that that person has died, then I hope to reassure them that often it’s it’s more about change in recognizing those changes, than it is about anything that’s that’s likely to come through or anything that’s likely to happen for them. That’s not to say that people don’t have dreams that come true. I’ve spoken to many people who have, but at the same time, Deaf dreams in particular, they’re more often recognizing those changes that we’re navigating, even without anybody dying. Yeah. And
Brian Smith 16:16
I in the book, he talked about, like these dream dictionaries and interpreting dreams, and I thought it was you did a really, really good job of that. Because the thing about dreams and I kind of, I think this is the book, but I kind of came away with it is that, first of all the different types of dreams, right? So there are dreams that are just dreams. So there are dreams that might be they might be premonitions. There are dreams that I think are visits, where our loved ones visiting us. And there are literal dreams. And then there’s a bollock Dream, which is, I think, what makes it so hard to to interpret them? Because they can they come? They’re just not really rational the way we think.
Delphi Ellis 16:56
Yeah, you’re so right. And I talk about this in the book, one of the things I was very careful to say in answers in the dark, is that it’s not a dream dictionary. I’ve spoken to enough people over the last two decades to know that dream dictionaries can be helpful, you know, they can offer some insight, they can offer some wisdom, but we as the dreamer, we have our own unique code that has been encrypted. And so our dreams really are speaking to us. That’s what makes them so important is that only we essentially can decode them. Yes, you could go to someone and say, I’ve had this dream, what do you think it means? Can I work through it with you, and that might be helpful. But at the same time, these dream dictionaries, they’re only helpful to a point I say to people, you’re perhaps just getting one bite of the apple if you use a dream dictionary to analyze your dreams. In the book, I talk about how we can explore our own dreams and look to decode them ourselves, but also offer those different experiences you describe. So I talk about visitation dreams, I talk about predictive dreams and how they might show up for people. But I’m also careful to say that ultimately is the dreamer, you’re the best person to decide what your dream means they are encrypted so that only you can understand them. And that then needs a toolkit, you know, and that’s, that’s hopefully what I offer in the book is kind of like some insight as to the types of things that you can think about, you know, questions you could ask yourself, when you’re having that dream, but you were so right, what you said as well, sometimes dreams can be literal. And sometimes dreams can be metaphorical or symbolic. They can they can show up in all types of ways. And so often when I’ve spoken to a dreamer, and I’ve said, when you think about that symbol you’ve just described to me, what do you think about what what kind of comes to your mind? And so often, they’ll just instinctively start telling me what their dream means, without me kind of doing anything, you know, they just instinctively telling me what their dream means. But they didn’t realize they knew, until they started to unpack it and explore it for themselves. So yeah, there’s so many different ways of looking at dreams. And one of the things I talk about, even in the book is creative dreaming. So there’s people throughout history that have literally created their works of art by the dreams that they had, you know, I mentioned in the book kind of in a jokey way about Keith Richards dreamt the riff to I can’t get no satisfaction for the Rolling Stones. And that’s just one example. You know, people throughout history have come up with their scientific discoveries through the dreams that they had. So they are just this phenomenal resource that we have that so often goes unexplored. But if we just take the time to look at them, you know, we can be really blown away by the profound wisdom they can bring.
Brian Smith 19:37
Right? So let’s talk about how we can be more intentional about our dreams because I know that there are people and my wife actually, for a long time would say, I don’t dream. And I’m like, you have to dream everybody dreams. So how do we how do we become more intentional about our dreams? What are some things we can do so we can remember our dreams better because we all dream, but sometimes we don’t remember them? Yeah.
Delphi Ellis 20:00
And one of the things I exploring answers in the dark is that there are many reasons why we might not be remembering our dreams. You’re absolutely right. We all dream every single night, it’s just that we might not be remembering them. So one of the reasons we don’t remember our dreams is that we perhaps have grown up in an environment where we just don’t see dreams as important. You know, certainly again, in the UK, we’re brought up to believe that dreams don’t mean anything, you know, so often, you know, a parent would say, if you had a nightmare, a parent would, so don’t worry about it, it doesn’t mean anything. And yet, we know that’s not the case, we know that we can interpret our dreams and make sense of them. So but if you’ve grown up in that environment, where you were told your dreams don’t mean anything, just ignore them, then you’re less likely to remember them, it makes sense when you get up in the morning, you’re just not going to be thinking about the dream you’ve had the night before. For other people, though, it is because of the busy world that we live in, you know, even post pandemic, we’re still, you know, going at 100 miles an hour, all day, every day. And so if the first thing you’re thinking about in the morning, when you wake up is where you’ve got to be who you’ve got to see what you’ve got to do, you’re less likely to remember the dream you’ve just had, you might have a sort of faint echo of it, there might be a faint echo of it in your mind. And that’s one of the reasons why I encourage keeping a dream diary. So you can actually start to firstly, just keep a note of the types of dreams you’re having. But also explore patterns in your dreaming, you will start to see patterns in your dreaming, and why you dream certain things when you do. So yeah, it to be more intentional with our dreams, really, it’s about firstly, and foremost is kind of saying you know what, there’s something to dreams, there’s something that I could use these as an additional resources as an unexplored resource. So even just going to bed at night, when you’re going to bed, if you just say to yourself, I’d really like to remember my dreams tonight, maybe even keep a diary or a pen and paper by your bed that kind of sets that intention that when you wake up, you want to remember it. And then you will find over time that starts to happen, you know, it might not happen straightaway. But certainly within a few days, you might find that you start to remember even just the echoes of a dream you’ve just had. And then when you wake up in the morning is just laying still just noticing all the kinds of thoughts or the sensations or the feelings that are going through your mind. And just keeping a note of them. If you don’t write your dream down within about five minutes of waking, it will just disappear into the ether you unless something happens later in the day when you think oh, I’ve just remembered my dream, then there’s a good chance it will just disappear. So it won’t go into your long term memory unless you write it down.
Brian Smith 22:37
Do you is there a scientific reason why dreams fade so quickly? That they seem to be like, most use almost a theory or like they’re, they’re just we wake up, they’ll have vague memories, something might trigger us later in the day. But if we don’t, like really ruminate on that dream, when we first wake up, it just kind of fades away.
Delphi Ellis 22:57
Yeah. So I once read a piece of research that said, if we remembered every single dream we had, our brains would be so big, we would need to carry it around in a shopping cart. Right? So that was like kind of does make the point that we’re not meant to remember every dream that we’ve ever had. But at the same time, I do think that there is something to be said for paying attention to them, you know, when they are particularly noisy or when they’re trying to get our attention. So an example of that is recurring dreams, people will often have a recurring dream over their lifetime or certainly during periods of stress. And so that’s where those dreams will we’ll kind of start to get our attention, and we might decide that we want to explore them. But yeah, I don’t think we’re designed to remember every single dream that we had. But I think certainly the ones that are important. They’re worth exploring, and maybe pushing into longer term memory by writing them down and exploring them in a bit more detail.
Brian Smith 23:54
Yeah. And I also think it’s interesting that, you know, we said dreams are unique and dreams that can be situational. And we have we ever each have our own language, our own dream language. But there are some common dreams. And you talked about some of those in the book. So explain. Because people that haven’t studied may not realize the dreams I’m having a similar dreams other people have.
Delphi Ellis 24:16
Yeah, so again, I talk about a few of these in the train. Some of them there are common dreams that people have after a bereavement, for example. So one of the most common dreams that people will have after a bereavement is that they’re lost, and they can’t find their way home or they can’t find their car or they can’t find you know, something that is has personal meaning to them. So that feeling of lost if you like is is the representation of loss literally feeling lost in the world and just not knowing where they belong or where they fit in. So that’s one example. But another type, certainly of anxiety dreams that people have. A really common one that I’ve spoken to people about over the years is that they dream about losing their teeth. And this is actually another
A common dream that people have if they are fear if they’re fearful of loss. So in some cultures and some traditions, the interpretation of the teeth dream is different depending on which parts of the world you go to, the interpretation of the tooth dream is different. So in the UK, and I think it’s the same in the US, if you
lose a tooth, a tooth as a child, you exchange it for money. So we have the tooth fairy, and we might exchange our tooth for money with with that perspective. So if that is our tradition, if that is the the environment that we’ve grown up with, where during the day, if our if our tooth has fallen out, we would exchange it for money, then teeth would symbolize that feeling of loss of status, or it’s something to do with money or wealth or status. Whereas in other parts of the world, to dream of losing a tooth is a fear of losing a loved one, you know, if you like the tooth, this bone bone represents the body. And so for some parts of the world to dream of losing a tooth, this is a fear of losing a loved one. And so again, you can understand why people get nervous about that they get understandably nervous about dreams of losing teeth, because of their their tradition of believing that it’s something to do with the death of a loved one. So, yeah, common dreams are is one of the reasons I encourage people to keep a dream diary. Because you will find that there are patterns in your dreaming over time, I’ve kept a dream diary for years. And I remember when I was first starting out on this journey about 20 years ago, and, and I just wasn’t sure about where I fit it in and what I was going to be doing, I knew I wanted to go into this arena, but I wasn’t sure where I fit it in. And it was only years later, when I look back at my dream diary. And I am talking about So 1520 years ago, that I saw that I kept having this recurring dream that I couldn’t find a parking space. So the if you like the parking space was the symbol for me trying to find where I fit in. And so and it was only by looking at that it was only when I started to realize I kept having this recurring dream of trying to find a parking space, that I realized that that’s what I was navigating at the time. So that’s how dream diaries could just be so valuable to help us understand, you know, where we’re, where we’re going, what we’re doing and what’s happening.
Brian Smith 27:20
Yeah, and a couple other dreams that you talked about in the book, which I’ve had, like, I have a dream, a lot of times, it’s like being back in school, I am sitting there, given an exam, and I haven’t been in that room a day in my life. Or I’m walking through the hallway. And I know I’m supposed to be going to class, but I don’t know what class I’m going to. Or I’m at an airport, and I’m catching a plane, but I have no idea what time the plane is coming. I’ve had that dream since I was a little kid.
Delphi Ellis 27:48
Yeah, I know. It’s fascinating. And again, this is where the dream diary can be really useful. Because often people find especially where they’ve had a recurring dream that they’ve had their whole life. So since since school, they will, they will be able to notice that there’s a pattern to it. So sometimes people will find that they have the dream that they’re back at college taking an exam that they weren’t ready for. So they’ve arrived, as you said, they’re in the classroom, they don’t know why they’re there, they don’t know what they’re studying for, then they told that they’ve got an exam that they just weren’t ready for. And so often that is representative of a period of stress. So just as when you were back at school, maybe taking your exams or studying for a test, you would have felt an element of stress around that. And it’s almost like the dream imprints, you know, imprints on our memory, or that that memory of school imprints in our minds so that the next time you feel stressed, it’s almost as if your dream bit like a friend coming along and saying, you remember how stressed you were at college. You’re that stress now. And so it’s almost like the dream is reassuring you that you know, you’ve been here before you’ve got through this before, you’re going to be fine. But I’m just reminding you that you’re stressed now as you were then and so that’s where the yeah, that’s, that’s where the dream diary can be helpful.
Brian Smith 29:07
Well, I never thought of that way. And I love I love that interpretation of also, because I can sort of have the gym but it seems random because I don’t keep a diary of it. Just like every once awhile I’ll have I’ll have that dream. So yeah, that’s like I said the thing about the book it really prompted me to think about because there’s several we don’t have time to go through all of them right now. But I’m like I’ve had all these dreams you know, I’m like, and I thought I was the only one. But I do want to talk about flying games. I think flying dreams are really cool. And I didn’t realize how common those were
reef to grow in just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach. If you’re grieving or know someone who is grieving his book grief degrowth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to growth.com www.gr IE F the number two GROWT h.com or text growth grow T H 231996. If you’d like to support this podcast visit www.patreon.com/grief to growth www.patreon.com/grie F, the number two g r o wth to make a financial contribution. And now back to grief to growth. Yeah, so
Delphi Ellis 30:37
I mean in when I’ve been talking to people again around the world when I’ve spoken to people, there are these kind of real almost like a top three or a top five common dreams that people have. One is the losing teeth dream. And the other one is another one is this flying dream. And what’s been so interesting about the flying dream when I’ve spoken to people, I don’t know, when you have your flying dream, how are you flying in your dream? What how, what does it look like?
Brian Smith 31:02
Well, the way you describe in the book is more like Superman, but it’s kind of like, or sometimes it’s not even flying just like floating like I could just I’ll be like in a crowd of people. And I’ll just rise up about 20 feet in the air and just kind of move along.
Delphi Ellis 31:15
Yeah, I love that. And so when I’ve spoken to people over the years, there’s been your almost two people are never quite the same. So there’ll be people that are associated with the you know, like Superman, and you’re going through the air that way. And then there will be other people. So when I fly in my dreams, I fly like Ironman. So I have I have thrusters in my hands. And I can if I push the thrusters down, I go up and if I let the thrusters off, I come down, if I lean forward, I go forward, if I lean back, I slow down. So it’s really interesting because I’ve spoken to people over the years who and these are the flying dreams where you’re literally flying you’re not it’s not in an aeroplane you are you are literally flying as if you are Superman. And and so many people I’ve met people that swim doing breaststroke or, you know, Frank crawl, like they’re swimming, but they’re actually swimming through the air. And the interpretation for that, again, has been varied over time. For some people. It’s, they’re not feeling grounded. So there’s something about there’s something happening in their life at the time that they just don’t feel connected, they don’t feel grounded, it’s almost as if there’s just no space between the feet, there’s nothing underneath their feet. They feel groundless, but for other people, and I use the metaphor deliberately there we would consider them to be high fliers, or high achievers, and life is just great. So they will have these flying dreams where you know that life is just They’re soaring through the sky and experiencing that flying dream. So again, it’s different for everybody. And again, that’s where the dream diary can be useful, because you might be able to connect with, with why you have the dreams where you do. And we do use metaphors. When we’re awake. We say things like, oh, you know what, I’m just flying at the moment. And so that makes sense that it would show up in our in our dreams that night. Same way as if you’re not on just floating on cloud nine. You know, we say things like that, that makes sense when you when you think about it, that that would then translate into a dream about that at night.
Brian Smith 33:11
Yeah, I think I think it’s just interesting. It’s maybe we’ll have a flying dreams when obviously we can’t fly. We’ve never flown before. But I know the feeling I know what it will feel like if I could because I’ve done it so many times. Exactly that. So I want to talk about insomnia, because insomnia. How big of a problem is insomnia.
Delphi Ellis 33:31
So we know now that insomnia is a global problem. And organizations like the World Health Organization, certain research recognizes something like one in five of us globally, so about 20% of the world’s population suffer with insomnia. And when I talk about insomnia, I’m talking about trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. And certainly over a period of time. One of the things I’m careful to talk about in answers in the dark is that it’s quite normal for us to have periods of poor sleep, if you’ve got a new baby in the house, you know, if you’ve just had a relationship breakdown, it’s quite normal and you’re you are built to withstand a period of poor sleep, nothing bad is going to happen if you have the occasional poor night’s sleep. It’s more when it starts to interfere with our everyday life. And of course, the problem with that is we know that if we have a poor night’s sleep, that affects how we feel during the day. And if how we feel during the day is anxious or upset, that’s going to affect how we sleep or not at night. So it becomes this vicious cycle. You know, we don’t sleep because we’re not doing okay. And we’re not doing okay, so we don’t sleep. So inevitably, what that means is that it’s becoming an increasing problem. And some people you know, they are quick to say that the introduction of technology, the availability that we have to people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using our phones all the time, you know that that does have an impact and that’s fair to say And I do talk about that a little bit in the book. But I also think we need to recognize, like I was saying earlier, we need to recognize the circumstances that we might be navigating at the time. It’s not just, you know, using your phone, or it’s not just drinking coffee, that stopping people having a bad night’s sleep, most people that I speak to know that they need to cut down on coffee, or you know, they need to get an earlier night. But it’s because of this, what I was describing earlier, this going down the plug hole at night, you know, when you’re just so immersed in your own thinking that that for me, you know, and I talk about in the book, there’s some research that identifies that when we’re awake at night, because we then start to worry, and now I’m not sleeping, and what am I going to be like in the morning, I’m going to be so tired tomorrow. And we kind of start getting caught up in those thoughts as well. And so of course, we don’t sleep. And so for me, I think, yes, we do need to talk about, you know, the basic stuff about the coffee and what have you. But I think we also need to talk about what’s contributing towards that, and so much of it is what’s happening in our minds at night.
Brian Smith 36:09
Yeah, so I loved about the book, because you talk about sleep hygiene, which are things that we kind of know, we don’t, sometimes we don’t do them, but we kind of know what they are. But if you’re not sleeping, that’s not the only reason unless you talk about the situational insomnia, and the fact that our minds can, can tend to be racing. And one of the things I learned a while ago about not being able to sleep is for me, do not look at the clock. Because if you wake up in the middle of night, because that starts at cycle. I don’t want to out anybody but some people like the look of the clock, and then they’ll start calculating. And you said this in the book? Yeah. How long do I have to get to sleep? And then it’s like, and then you look at the clock again, it’s like, well, now I only have this long to get to sleep. Yeah. Next thing you know, you’re keeping yourself awake, worrying about the fact that you can’t sleep
Delphi Ellis 36:58
exactly that and it’s in the book, I explore these three big myths of sleep. And one of the myths in the sleep is that I talk about how we are just fixated with time as humans now in the 21st century, we are fixated with time, and specifically, we hate wasting time. So I’ve genuinely I talked about this in the book, I’ve genuinely known people who have said to me, that they woke up in the middle of the night, they couldn’t get back to sleep. And so they’ve cleaned their entire house, or they’ve done their ironing or something because they don’t want to waste time. And so trying to encourage people that actually firstly, and most importantly, it’s quite natural to wake up in the middle of the night, your brain is wired with this lovely Sentinelle reflex that is almost like a bodyguard. That’s just kind of you wake up in the middle of the night and your brain is just saying Everything okay? Yeah, everything’s fine. And then you should just be able to go back to sleep. But because like you were talking about, like it says in the book, we get caught up in this, oh, no, it’s this this time, and I’m only going to get you know, X amount of sleep. And you know, and then we start to calculate it, you know, this idea that we need eight hours is just such a myth, because everybody is different. Some people need six hours, some people need nine hours. If you’re poorly, you know, if you’re sick, you’re going to need more sleep. So but we’ve got so fixated with this idea that we need eight hours sleep, that if we don’t get the eight hours sleep, we think, you know, when we wake up in the night, we think oh no, I’m not going to get my eight hours. And of course, then we start again, we go down the plug hole, again, with this, this kind of catastrophic thinking about how bad it’s going to be if we don’t sleep. And ironically, that stops us sleeping, there is no way your brain is going to authorize sleep. If you are, you know, tying yourself in knots about how much sleep you’re gonna get.
Brian Smith 38:42
Yeah, well, let’s talk about the three big myths asleep, what are the three myths?
Delphi Ellis 38:46
So in the book, I talk about these three big myths of sleep. And the first one that I really kind of unpack is this eight hour myth, it’s the idea that we all need eight hours of sleep every single night. And we know that’s, that’s every time I’ve spoken to somebody about this, they’ll say actually, you know, I get by just fine on seven hours, or I get by, you know, with with nine nine is good for me. And actually, the research also supports that even if we did all need eight hours sleep, we’re not getting it. You know, the research supports that most people I know, certainly don’t get eight hours sleep. So this, this whole thing about we need eight hours sleep is a big mess. And I really try to unpack that. That’s not to say that we don’t need you know, time to sleep. But I say in the book I talk about focusing on quality rather than quantity. So instead of getting caught up in this idea that you need eight hours, just focus more on getting a good quality refreshing night’s sleep. The other myth, the second myth that I explore is that it’s unnatural to wake up at night and that we you know, we’ve got ourselves caught up in this idea that you know, we’re meant to sleep for this eight hour so little chunk in the middle of the night. And I really think that’s that I talk in the book about the research that supports the fact that we just weren’t built that way. I mean, it would be lovely if we could split our days very neatly into these three sort of blocks of eight, where we’ve got eight hours for work, eight hours for play, and eight hours of sleep. That would be really convenient. But we’re just not wired that way. You know, we are designed to some extent for polyphasic sleep, we’re meant to kind of we wait, we go to bed, we wake up, we go back to sleep again. So this idea that we have this solid eight hours sleep, whilst Yes, it would be very convenient. For many people, the fact that they wake up in the night, they think they’re doing something wrong, they think, Oh, well, I must have got this wrong, you know, I must, I must have done something wrong. And so they ended up invariably laying awake because they think and now I’ve done something wrong, and now I can’t sleep. And then the other thing I talked about in the other myth I talked about is the fact that bedtime is not a specific time. And this links into the other two myths, which is, so what tends to happen is say, I have to be up at six in the morning, if I’ve bought into this eight hour myth, I will say right, I’ve got to be up at six in the morning, I’m going to subtract eight hours, so that I get my eight hours sleeping, so I need to be in bed by 10 o’clock. And we’re just not built that way. We are just not built that way where we can program ourselves, you know, like robots, to say to ourself, okay, I’ve got to get to bed at 10 o’clock, because I’ve got to be asleep by 10. Because I’ve got to be up at six in the morning. What tends to happen, and what I encourage in the book is that you start to notice when what we call sleep pressure builds. So that is when you start to feel sleepy, you know, your head starts nodding, your eyes start drooping. That is essentially when it’s time to go to bed. So often when I say to people, when do you go to bed? They’ll say to me, 10 o’clock? 11 o’clock? 130, whatever. And yet, actually, the answer I’m looking for is when I’m sleepy, that’s that’s when we should be going to bed. And so that’s not always easy. Of course people work shifts. I do I speak with police officers and paramedics and they tell me that that’s not easy when you’ve got to work a night shift. But nevertheless, that’s another reason I talk in answers in the dark. I talk about power naps and the power of naps as well. And how you can you can kind of refresh yourself if you’re working shifts and things. So yeah, those are essentially the the three big myths the eight hour myth is just ditch the myth that you know, if you think that everybody is different focus on quality rather than quantity. Kind of get used to the idea that you may well wake up in the middle of the night. And if you do that it’s natural that your brain working, you can just roll over and go back to sleep try not to indulge the commentary that you’ve done something wrong to wake up. And then the third thing is yeah, just go to bed when you’re sleepy rather than thinking, Okay, I’ve got to be up at six in the morning, I’m going to work back eight hours and be imbibed by 10. Because you might find that you’re wide awake at 10 o’clock, that might not be your natural sleep time.
Brian Smith 43:04
Yeah, I think it’s great. You know, you did touch touch the fact that we are so driven by the clock, right, so I might not get sleepy till midnight, but I know I have to be up at six. So that’s going to put a stress on me. But I want to add something that I got out of the book that I thought was I’ve heard about sleep cycles on my on my life. And I knew that we go through the different sleep cycles. But let’s talk about some cycles specifically and why that might be why we wake up during the night because I never heard it put that way.
Delphi Ellis 43:35
Yeah, so in the book I refer to sleep a bit like a bus. And essentially, if you don’t get on the bus when it comes round. So in other words, when you feel sleepy, you will miss the bus, you’ll push through it. And so you’ll then find that you’re you’re not sleepy again for another hour and a half or so. And the sleep cycle, the way it works is shorter in children. For children, it can be you know, 45 to 60 minutes, but in adults predominantly, it’s an hour and a half to two hours depending on you know the individual. And so one of the things that I talk about is getting to know your sleep cycles. So if you know that you’ve got to be up at six in the morning, or there abouts. Then if you know you start to feel sleepy at say 10 o’clock, then you could if you know that your personal sleep cycle is about an hour and a half, then you can work forward and work out the best time to set your alarm. So instead of setting your alarm for six o’clock, which might actually be when you’re in the middle of deep sleep, and you’ll wake up I talk about this in answers in the dark as the hangover effect. You wake up in the middle of deep sleep your mouth is dry, you’ve got a banging headache. That’s why it’s called the hangover effect. You instead of that you just work forward working out what your your sleep cycle is. You can just work forward and work out okay, well Well, I’m going to be naturally waking up or naturally kind of coming towards the end of one particular sleep cycle at 530. So instead of setting my alarm, when I’m going to be in the middle of deep sleep, I’m going to set my alarm for when I know that I’m going to be naturally wakeful anyway. So I’m not wrenching myself out of sleep. So yeah, that’s that’s essentially where I’m coming from with the sleep cycles is getting to know yourself a bit better. Recognizing that sleep is like a boss, if you miss the boss, you’re gonna have to wait for the next one, which when I talk to people, it’s about an hour and a half later. And but just know that it will come, you know, the boss will come back, it’s just you’re gonna have to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for a better night’s sleep. So doing all the right things before bedtime, like winding down, less caffeine, those kinds of things, so that you start to feel naturally sleepy. And then And then yeah, working out when you would naturally be awake based on and I provide a kit in the in the book about how to work out those kinds of patterns when you wake up naturally. And that kind of thing.
Brian Smith 46:00
I’ve noticed, and for me, it’s like, it’s like when I wake up on the weekends when I don’t have an alarm, you know, and I and so like, I get up, my alarm goes off at six. But I found that I’m getting into light sleep sometime between 530 and six. That’s That’s why I feel like that’s why I’m waking up kind of naturally. And it’s interesting, because if I do go back to sleep during that time, then I fall into a heavy sleep, you know, instead of getting up when I’m in that light, like sleep cycle. So I really love that about the book. And I love the fact that now we know that it’s it’s normal to wake up during the night because as you said, a lot of us think that we’re doing something wrong, I should just go to bed be knocked out, wake up, you know that many hours later. That’s that’s a normal part of our sleep cycle, which I had known before.
Delphi Ellis 46:46
Yeah. So when we come to the end of our sleep cycle, we are naturally moving into a sort of a wakeful period. Some people don’t even know that they’ve done that during the night, some people will wake up in the morning and say, Gosh, I had, you know, great eight hours sleep last night, not realizing that they will have entered these wakeful periods just the night they just don’t remember it. But for some people, of course they do. They know that they woke up in the night, they remember that they woke up in the night. And of course, then if they buy into this narrative that they shouldn’t be awake. That’s when they start beating themselves up and saying, oh, no, what’s wrong with me? Why am I awake? So that’s where I try and encourage people to remember, it’s just your brain working normally. I mean, that’s not to say, you know, if people are just waking up every 20 minutes or so, you know, or if they’re, you know, they’re just not sleeping at all, then of course, they should go and talk to someone about that and get the help that they need. But I think we do need to normalize to some extent, you know, the idea that it’s quite natural to wake up in the night, not least of all, as I mentioned in the book, because you might need the loo, you know, you might need the toilet. And Mother Nature is not going to wait for anybody. So you know, you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. So your your brain and your body is just working as it’s meant to during the night. And if you can kind of get used to that the idea that it’s just responding to whatever else is going on in the environment, then sometimes we can just roll back over and say, Yeah, this is normal. I’m just gonna go back to sleep. Yeah,
Brian Smith 48:08
I think that’s going to help a lot of people because as I said, I think people, we think, okay, there’s something wrong, we wake up, we look at the clock, we start doing the calculation. For me, it’s just so freeing to know, it’s normal for me to wake up during the night. And I can you know, and that’s just part of the natural sleep cycle. And speaking that you use the term in the book, I’d never heard it before. Orpheus Omnia, which so I want you to explain to people to Arthur somni is,
Delphi Ellis 48:35
so also Sonia is where a person has got so fixated on the amount of sleep that they are getting that has created its own form of anxiety. So this is where people, for example, use trackers, sleep trackers that are attached to their wrist, and then they will wake up in the morning. And they will look to see how much sleep they got when they were woke up. Whether or not it was deep sleep, whether or not it was light sleep. And they become so fixated on that particular that analysis that result that it is creating its own form of anxiety. And so this is quite a new thing. This is quite a new thing. And it’s in some attributed directly to the creation of these trackers. And so this is one of the reasons I say to people, the best way to know whether or not you had a refreshing night’s sleep or not, is how you feel. It’s not what your what your fitness tracker says. It’s how you feel and but some people have got so kind of caught up that it’s created its own anxiety that they start to then think, oh, you know, I’m not sleeping enough. I’m not I’m not getting enough quality sleep or what have you. And instead really, we’re kind of tuning out to listening to our own bodies when our body you know, our body is speaking to us all the time. It’s telling us that we’re thirsty, we’re hungry, we’re tired. And so yeah, the idea that we’ve got so caught up in how much sleep we’re getting and how many times we woke up and whether it was deep sleep or not. It’s created its own anxiety, which, which is becoming a real problem for some people.
Brian Smith 50:11
Yeah. And you know, have you haven’t said that I used to have a Fitbit. And I had the Fitbit, and it’s got the sleep tracker on, and then you could get apps that are even more detailed. Yeah. And I know people who will get all caught up with like, this is how many hours of sleep I got, I didn’t get enough sleep and why was I in light sleep, then I want I want that to be deep sleep, I want to always be, you know, in deep sleep. And that’s, that’s not the normal cycle. So I do you have an Apple Watch. Now I just, I want to say to Apple about Apple. People ask them, why don’t you have more detail in your sleep app. And they said the exact they didn’t use the word ortho Samia. But they’re like, We don’t want to contribute to that because people were getting too caught up. And, you know, not everything that can be measured, I guess should be by by, by that kind of data because we don’t understand our own bodies and our own sleep cycles. And speaking of sleep cycles, I know we talked about sleep hygiene a little bit, let’s talk about what is the sleep cycle repair kit.
Delphi Ellis 51:04
So the sleep cycle repair kit is essentially my offering of different ways that people can start to think about how they might be able to improve their sleep. One of the things I talk about in answers in the dark is that when I talk to people about why they’re not sleeping, well, they will. They know, like I said earlier, they know all about the sleep hygiene stuff, you know the the tips that the habits that we have during the day, that might stop them sleeping at night, so they’re exercising too late, or they’re eating too late, or they’re drinking too much coffee. So most people know. But I’ve still offered some sort of top tips. And I’ve actually offered a sleep hygiene type questionnaire. So people can actually look at their, their habits during the day and see whether or not they might be able to improve those areas in some way, shape or form. So that’s part of the kit. But the other part of it as well is it moves into talking about some of the nighttime phenomena that we have. So that might explain some of the experiences they have, which again, we can often normalizes we’re going through a period of stress or something like that. But I also offer mindfulness activities. And in my work over certainly over the last 10 years, I have found that sleep is a proven, mindfulness is a proven, proven strategy for getting a better night’s sleep. And if once we know how to do it, you know, and I’m not talking about the mindfulness stuff that we you know, those those kind of short term tricks that we might use, I’m talking about the authentic, which is the way that I was trained the authentic mindfulness, where we really kind of get used to this idea that thoughts are just thoughts, they don’t need our time and attention, we can pick and choose which thoughts get our time and attention. And so authentically kind of looking back at what it actually means to be mindful and and then kind of picking our battles, making decisions and good decisions about which thoughts get our time and attention. So I talk about that I talk about the mind at night and how we can start to manage the mind more healthfully. And and that is using different types of mindfulness activity and different types of mindfulness tips. So I use things like mantras and affirmations that people can repeat to themselves during the night, a lovely one that I talked about, which is actually specifically for middle of the night waking, there’s a beautiful mantra called Breathing in, I calm my body, breathing out, I calm my mind. And that is just such a lovely mantra to say in the middle of the night, you know, if your mind is swirling with all types of things, just saying those words in your mind can be enough to just bring you back to center, and just help you get off to a lovely refreshing sleep.
Brian Smith 53:48
Yeah, I think that’s so, so important. I’ve discovered that myself in the last few years that mindfulness is really the thing because our minds, our minds are meant to be thinking that’s what they do. And I know a lot of people when they think about mindfulness and meditation, they can mean turning your brain off. And we can’t do that. We you got to kind of give your brain something to do. So you use a mantra as a great way of doing that. Or if you practice mindfulness during the day learning how okay, I’m not I’m I just refuse to have this thought. I’ll have to stop tomorrow and put that thought out of your head. I was hurt my hip a couple weeks ago, it was a lot of pain. It was trying to fall asleep. And the pain was just I couldn’t get comfortable. And so I finally just decided to really focus on the pain. This is kind of a different way of doing instead of taking my mind off the pain, I really focus on the pain and what the pain really was. And then it started to fade, you know, it was still there, but I was it wasn’t all consuming. And then I said Okay, now that I’ve done that, I’ll switch my mind to something else. And I was able to fall asleep and it was really cool.
Delphi Ellis 54:52
It’s amazing, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s it seems so counterintuitive to say, well, I’m going to focus on this thing. That’s really hurting me. And yet, and this is what I say to people. And it’s the same with emotion, you know, whether we give the feeling a name or not, it’s there anyway. So one of the things I talk about in the book is that mindfulness is about managing the mind, it’s not about clearing the mind, it’s about managing and taming the mind and bringing it back home. You know, my teacher said to me, you know, a mind that is homeless is going to be distressed, anything that’s homeless is going to be distressed. And we just need to bring the mind back home. And one of the ways of doing that, like you said, it’s just bringing our attention and just focusing on that feeling, but without getting caught up in the commentary about it. So whether it’s physical or emotional pain, we just noticed that it’s there. But without getting caught up in the commentary about why it’s there. So whether it’s physical pain, like you said, and it’s, I totally get it, you know, for people that would be saying that feels totally wrong to totally focus on that pain that I’m experiencing right now. But that’s why I say to people, you’re not focusing on the why the pain is there, you’re noticing that on the fact that the pain is there, because it’s there anyway, whether you acknowledge it, whether you give it a name, whether you focus on it or not, it’s there anyway. So is that whole thing about there’s an element of acceptance to it, there’s an element of recognizing and acknowledging it’s there. But then giving ourselves permission to not get caught up in that dialogue about why it’s there. So the way I describe it in the book is it’s about becoming the observer of what’s happening to us, rather than the participant.
Brian Smith 56:31
Yeah. And then another technique that I’ve used is like, okay, so you’re in a night, and you’re thinking about what you need to do the next day, because we all we all do that we go to what we should have done before we get to what we need to do the next day. And I just tell myself, okay, what can I do about it right now? You know, what? And the answer is always nothing. Just let it go, you know, so these are, these are ways that we can, we can we can use to control our mind, because for most of us, it’s like, our minds are just running around doing what they want to do, and especially turn off the lights and close our eyes. They just go they go crazy. We’re kind of chasing them around.
Delphi Ellis 57:09
Yeah, yeah, it’s exactly that. And it is I say this, you know, to people that your, your mind just wants to pretty much as you said earlier, your mind just wants something to do. And if you don’t give it something to do, it will remind you of an argument you had 20 years ago that you wish you’d said something different, you know, or you’d approached it differently. And it is it’s and it’s always I actually have a chapter in answers in the dark. I have a chapter called The Four mystery.
Brian Smith 57:34
I’m just gonna bring that up.
Delphi Ellis 57:37
Yeah, it’s this whole thing about, you know, people will say to me, why am I awake in the middle of the night. And again, I say to people, rather than focusing on the why, just notice on the what you know, the fact that you are awake, and what you can do to then help you fall back to sleep, whether it’s mindfulness, whether it’s using a mantra, however you want to define it. But yeah, it is that whole thing. And of course, because we find ourselves awake at four in the morning, we then that whole narrative starts again, about what why am I awake? What woke me up? What’s going on? Why can’t I sleep, I’m going to be so tired in the morning, I’m not going to be able to concentrate. And of course, then we end up like I say, going down the plug hole again. So it just becomes this, this vicious cycle. But yeah, the foreign mystery is a is a fascinating phenomenon. And I give examples in the book about how if you watch a movie, or, you know, I think it even features in The Simpsons, you know, where Homer refers to 4:04am in one of his conversations in his mind. And it’s that thing about, again, different traditions, they, they say that there’s reasons why we have middle of the night waking, some people say that it is because that’s the time when we’re reflecting or we’re experiencing loss and grief. And that’s why we wake up if we’re depressed or anxious, we do find that we wake up between three and four in the morning. But for other people, it will be I mentioned one example in the book, it will be something really practical, like someone’s heating coming on at four in the morning. And that and that wakes them up, you know. So it is again, it’s about being able to and I give tools for this in the book about just kind of keeping helpful records so that you can start to think about what those patterns are and what might be contributing towards that.
Brian Smith 59:20
Well, I’ve heard people say that that that witching hour that somewhere between two and four in the morning is when spirit talks to them. Yeah, and I know for me, that’s when I get my best ideas. Is that time that time somewhere between two and four?
Delphi Ellis 59:36
Yeah, and I say that actually in the book. I talk about that, you know, some people, poets, writers, creators don’t forget I mentioned Keith Richards and you know, he had the dream about the rift I can’t get no satisfaction. And and so yeah, people throughout history have have had some of their most spiritual encounters or experiences in the middle of the night. And that’s one of the reasons why, in the book, I have a chapter called into darkness. And it’s, it’s one of the reasons why I try to help people befriend the dark. So rather than seeing it as the enemy, actually trying to befriend the dark a little bit and seeing if there is something that it can offer you, I know that for some people, when they find themselves awake at that time of night, that’s when they have the most awful thoughts, or, you know, they have the most difficult experiences. And that’s why I say, you know, it’s so important that you just hold on for Dawn, you know, just hold on for the morning, because things often look so much better in the morning. But on the other side of that, like I say, there are creators and, you know, poets and writers and all those artists that have had these wonderful moments, and as I say, those spiritual moments in the middle of the night, and so there is something in just listening, you know, rather than trying to sort of fix it or, or sort it, you know, in a in a way that’s unhelpful, is actually just listen and pay attention.
Brian Smith 1:01:03
Yeah, I love I love that chapter into into the dark, and you talked about a message that you got at that time of the day. So I love that, that instead of, you know, the thing is, in our society, we’ve been taught to fear the dark we’ve been, we’ve been taught that darkness is bad. And I love your neighbor, your book answers in the dark, I love that chapter into the dark, because we can learn to embrace that as a time of, of, of rest, a time of maybe even creativity, a time where new things can be can be born, and a time where you know, magical things can happen. Like what happened with you?
Delphi Ellis 1:01:39
Yeah, absolutely. I talk about my own experience of that in the book. And, and to be honest with you, I think most of us, I was talking to a lady recently who said that she she hadn’t appreciated before, that night time just brings this beautiful, quiet and stillness that we can really just appreciate. Even if we’re not having profound moments of wisdom, we’re in a world that just doesn’t stop, there is something quite powerful about appreciating the stillness and the quiet of the middle of the night. I mean, if you’re someone that, you know, quiet makes you nervous anyway, then it’s going to be harder. But if we can learn to appreciate the stillness, and the quiet that nighttime can bring, then I think we will find those answers, you know, we can we can work towards them. And for me, you know, one of the things I talked about, and I think it will surprise people, is that one of my particular answers was actually a person that that reached out to me in the middle of the night, it wasn’t a dream in that moment, in that particular moment. It was, it was a person that reached out to me in the middle of the night with a poem that I really, really needed to read. But But yeah, for other people, it may well be that they wake up with a dream, or they wake up with a profound insight or, like you said, you know, they they have a spiritual experience in the middle of the night where they feel connected to the universe, you know, they feel as if they’re part of it, and they feel connected in that way. So yeah, there’s definitely something to be said for for reaching into the darkness.
Brian Smith 1:03:11
Well, you know, it’s minds me think, just think about my, my daughter, when she was a little kid, she said, I hate sleep. It’s such a waste of time, I will never I wish I had never had to sleep again. Of course, now she sleeps all the time. She’s 20. But what I, you know, the thing is that scientifically, I think it’s fascinating, that our bodies have to shut down, that our bodies need that break. And you talked about in deep sleep, that’s when our bodies do all the repairs and stuff. We know we need to dream, we know that people that don’t dream go go insane. I mean, literally, you can’t you cannot survive without dreaming. So my my personal take on it is we’re spiritual beings in these bodies having this human experience, we can’t stand it 24/7 We need a break. And some people say that that’s the time when we visit the other side every night when we’re sleeping, that we’re visiting other side. So whether you believe that or not, or whether you just really take the night as a time to reboot, you know, our computers can only run for so long, then they have to be rebooted, and the human body needs that. So I love this idea of embracing that. You know, and I know, for people for me, you know, when you’re in grief, this is really ironic, a lot of times you look forward to that escape, you look forward to being able to close your eyes and shut down. And that’s when you can’t do it. So that’s that’s where this book and your techniques and your understanding or understanding really helped people to claim that time back.
Delphi Ellis 1:04:35
Yeah, thank you. And that’s that’s really where I was coming from with the book. I mean, the book took me around 10 years to write and the reason for that was because there was just so much research and so much academic stuff that people were kind of shipping out in terms of why we don’t sleep and what we need to do differently. And in the end, I just decided to talk about it in a way that I teach it you know, the way that I talk about it, just as I’m talking to you Now, if we can just start to normalize some of our experiences, grief, you know, things like understanding people’s grief and recognizing it for what it is. And then recognizing that as just as you said, you know, we need that time to rest and relax, we cannot stay on the treadmill, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we need time to rest and recharge. And so if we can start to normalize some of these conversations, and that’s how I talk about it in the book, I just, it’s like I’m having a conversation with you. I’m just kind of talking about it in the way that I teach it. And, and hopefully, that will bring people some reassurances that they’re not getting grief wrong, that, you know, they’re finding their own way forward with a difficult time. And that there are things out there that might help.
Brian Smith 1:05:41
Yeah, I love the style that you wrote the book. And because, frankly, that’s the salaat times a subject can be academic and boring. It’s just like you’re talking now, you’ve injected humor into it. You’ve made it you know, really understandable for people that may, you know, we’ve talked about sleep cycles, and REM and light sleep and deep sleep, that might be my turn some people off. But just understanding that this is normal, we don’t just fall asleep, and we’re knocked out for eight hours. And if you wake up in the middle of night, it may be because you have to go to the bathroom. It may be because your heat kicked on. Some people are very sensitive to noises. You know, one of the things my wife does is she wears earplugs ever. And I was teasing her by last night. I said, What are you blocking out? And she said, do you hear that like noise way off in the distance? And because we live near train tracks? And I’m like, yeah, here, but I just naturally block it out. But her mind goes to whatever she hears. Yeah, if something’s creaking downstairs in the house, so she wears earplugs, and it helps her to sleep better. So maybe we can learn a little tips like that.
Delphi Ellis 1:06:41
Yeah, amazing. And I do say, you know, it’s finding what works for you and doing more of it. That’s that’s essentially it. It’s finding what works for you and doing more of it in a way that feels healthy. You know? And if you think if you play the long game, and you think to yourself, if I keep doing what I’m doing now, where am I going to be in a year’s time, whereas something healthy and helpful? Again, asking yourself that question, if I keep doing what I’m doing now, and this is one of the reasons I say to people just stick with the mindfulness. You know, it’s not for everybody. And I know that. And certainly you have to pick your moments when you’re doing mindfulness, especially if there’s trauma associated with your experience, then it’s always better to speak to someone before you get engaged with that. But certainly, you know, try and stick with some of the practices and you might find over time that things improve.
Brian Smith 1:07:28
Yeah, absolutely. It’s been really wonderful having this conversation with you. Anything you’d like to say as we wrap up today.
Delphi Ellis 1:07:35
No, just thank you so much for this wonderful time with you today. Thank you so much for holding space with me. And if people do want to and find out more about the book, it does have its own website. So answers in the dark.com is where people can find it.
Brian Smith 1:07:48
Okay, so there’s a website and your website is Delphi ellis.com. Is that correct?
Delphi Ellis 1:07:52
Yeah, that’s up there as well. Yeah, it’s
Brian Smith 1:07:54
Delphi de LPHI. And LS is E L. L i s i do recommend the book. I think it’s available and I gotta I gotta pre release copies it out yet?
Delphi Ellis 1:08:05
Yeah. So it’s out tomorrow. So it’s, it’s on Amazon, and it’s on other. It’s on other stores as well. So yeah, it’s it should be out tomorrow.
Brian Smith 1:08:14
Well, I’m recording this on May 26, which is my birthday, by the way, May 26 2022. So by the time you hear this audience, it will be available on Amazon and I do highly recommend it. Thank you so much. All right, Delphi. Thanks, have a great rest of your day.
Delphi Ellis 1:08:29
Thank you and you
Brian Smith 1:08:32
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai