Sleep: Guided Relaxations for Unwinding at Bedtime, by Alana Fairchild
Blue Angel Publishing, 9781925538106, 4 tracks, 43 pp., 2017
Sleep: Guided Relaxations for Unwinding at Bedtime is a simple program to aid in building (or rebuilding) our relationship with one of the most basic of human needs — healing, restorative sleep. Alana Fairchild, well-known spiritual author, motivational speaker, and sacred musician, addresses this issue by sharing basic information on the impact that sleep — or not getting enough sleep — has on our bodies and minds.
This is presented in a small 43-page book and accompanying four-track CD. Fairchild says that the book can be read as a whole, or flipped through at different times. It is full of many useful tips for little things we can do to help ourselves, as well as outlining why it can become so perpetually difficult to get regular, recuperative rest.
The four-track CD fits into a sleeve on the inside front cover of the book, including the “Introduction” (1:13), “Unwind for Safe Sleep” (19:47), “Safe to Sleep” (24:19), and “Powerful Healing Dreams” (22:19).
Like the book, the audio tracks can be played through in order or singly. For instance, the second track used alone can be helpful for just relaxing after a stressful event and will not necessarily put you to sleep. For sleep, though, I find that listening to them in order, beginning with the introduction, is most useful for me.
I was attracted to this program because I have enjoyed several of Fairchild’s other works, and also because I suffer difficulties with sleep. Although I’ve found some relief with medication, I’m always on the hunt for natural ways to fall and stay asleep. The evening it arrived I put the tracks on my phone as a playlist and put in my earbuds. I didn’t magically fall asleep right away, but neither did I make it to the end of the last track before falling asleep. In fact, I never have. That is, until I finally listening to it one afternoon while drinking coffee, for the purpose of completing this review. Even then I was tempted to curl up for a nice nap. It has made rest seem very attractive, rather than this unobtainable state I was previously unable to achieve.
Alana Fairchild’s voice is very soothing, and her speech and rhythm hypnotic. Her words gently guide your attention away from outside thoughts and distractions, turning your focus first on the breath, then to a methodical relaxation of the body. The background is minimal and supportive of the meditation. Both voice and background are completely unobtrusive, so when I fall asleep listening, I’m not awakened by anything on the CD.
The book is an interesting and easy read. As Fairchild introduces the overall approach she uses in the program, she relates the story of a farmer interviewed during a prolonged period of drought in Australia. The landscape had been scorched and resources dried up for inhabitants, human and livestock alike. The farmer said, “We need to trust in nature. She knows how to heal herself. Give her time and she’ll do so.”1 Calling on that wisdom, Fairchild says, “No matter how difficult things get, there is a healing power within nature; she knows how to balance and repair herself. You are a natural creature. Your body belongs to the natural world and has this [healing] power within it.”2
Fairchild applies this natural healing principle to sleep, and it’s been very helpful. There is work involved in going through the steps of relaxation, as with any meditative practice, but the audio guidance makes it easy and rewarding work. In addition, the book has numerous rest-oriented affirmations scattered throughout. I can choose one and repeat it throughout the day, preparing my mind and body for a good night’s sleep at the day’s end. This combats the frustration that insomnia threatens me with, and builds a new attitude that will facilitate rest when the time comes.
I give Sleep: Guided Relaxations five Zs and two thumbs up, and I recommend it as a natural, hopeful, healing practice for anyone who struggles with stress or stress-related sleep issues.