Friday, March 12, 2010

Sleepless in America—What’s Pluto Got to Do with It?

A confidential report from Ivory Phoenix, C.I. (Chronic Insomniac)

Note: This is a pre-publication excerpt from Ivory’s forthcoming book, Living with Insomnia: What to Do when Your Sleep Number is Up. She’s not sure yet what publisher it’s forthcoming from, but Ivory is an intrepid optimist.

In the past several years—since the planet Pluto went into Capricorn—statistics on sleep disturbances have soared.

According to CNN, sleep problems are estimated to be the #1 health-related problem in America. Almost 74% of all Americans don’t get enough sleep each night. 

It seems like half the commercials on television are for sleeping pills and Sleep Number beds. (The other half is about pills for E.D., still another problem related to Pluto.)

As a long-time insomniac and an aficionado of astrology, I’ve been convinced for ages that Pluto is the planet most associated with sleeplessness. Over the years, I’ve noticed that whenever Pluto is stationary, half the people I know complain that they haven’t slept in weeks. Of course, since I mainly hang out with fellow Plutonians, that’s not exactly a random sample.

Not that I’m much given to scientific inquiry. I’m more of an observer of myself and the people around me, a collector of anecdotal evidence and direct experiences. I just know what I know….and maybe a few of my observations and theories will strike a chord in you. I’ll also share a few tips for getting to sleep if you’re struggling.

I believe that Pluto is the #1 cause of psychologically-based insomnia. Well, naturally, Pluto doesn’t CAUSE anything in and of itself. If it did, we could send a rocket to blow the little bugger up, and the money we’d save on sleep aids each year would feed a 3rd world country. The correct thing to say is that in the birth chart, it gives us clues to things that happened to us that left emotional scars.

How Plutonian Experiences Contribute to Sleep Disturbances

People with a strong Pluto natally have often been through childhood or adult experiences like physical or sexual abuse where their trust was betrayed or where they witnessed abuse to a loved one. While psychotherapy and other forms of healing help in their recovery, fears related to events like these remain in the body memory at a cellular level. If something occurs to activate the fear, even when they’re not consciously aware of it, they’re afraid to go to sleep. At a certain very childlike level, sleep can represent death to them.

Sleep may also represent death to the acutely bereaved. Burying a loved one can be a way the sleep = death fear gets triggered. Grief often carries insomnia with it, the kind where you wake up around 3:00 AM and are swamped with it. It’s also part biochemical—acupuncturists find the lung/large intestine meridian disturbed, and acupuncture can help relieve it.

With all the losses people have had in the past couple of years, there’s an epidemic of grief in the world at large at this time. There are a number of important homeopathic remedies for the grieving, but the main thing that helps you work through grief is to grieve, for as long and as much as you need. Don’t let people pressure you to get over it, because shortcutting it can leave you chronically downhearted for no apparent reason.

There is a Saturn type of sleeplessness as well, caused by major depression, and commercials warn you that two in three people who are on antidepressants still have symptoms. For that they want to give you second antidepressant and maybe a sleeping pill or an anti-anxiety drug as well.

No pill is going to fix what’s wrong with our society. No pill can get your job back or pay the medical bills now that you’re no longer insured or bring your son or daughter back from fighting in the Mideast.

Since Pluto went into Capricorn and especially now that Saturn is squaring it, people have been scared, plain and simple, afraid that they’ll lose their homes, their jobs, their savings….afraid of terrorists, of earth changes due to global warning, of natural disasters, and of flu pandemics.

What Keeps Plutonians Up at Night

I’ll share the sorts of things that keep me awake, only because you might see yourself in them. You may get some insights into what’s bothering you when your eyes refuse to shut in the wee hours of the morning. And the tips about what helps me might also help you.

As a card-carrying Plutonian, I notice that I’m wide-eyed awake for hours after a disturbing newscast or tv show—like when Oprah has a sexual predator on—or if I encounter someone creepy during the day or if I read a gory murder mystery in the evening.

I can’t sleep after seeing horrifying aliens killing humans in a movie, especially with the special effects they have now. In these acute instances, what helps if I remember it is to stir some Rescue Remedy from a health food store into a tall glass of water and sip it.

I always have trouble sleeping if someone’s in the room with me, at least until I get used to them. It happened with each new lover, and it happens at conventions where I have a roommate, even one who’s a friend. I lie awake for most of the night. Other people need the comfort of a warm body to calm the fears, even if it’s just a pet. Being a SUAD (Single Urban Apartment Dweller), I have an imaginary golden retriever puppy who hops up on the bed when I am restless.

A lot of Plutonian tossing and turning happens when I’m furious at someone but didn’t feel like I could tell them. Some people would call that sort of nocturnal stew brooding; I call it processing. What helps is to go to my meditation spot and read something inspirational, like Thich Nhat Hanh’s Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames. I finish with a passage or two from A Course in Miracles—like the one that says, “Every decision you make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle.” Then I do a gratitude prayer, thanking God for my many blessings individually, and soon I’m nodding off.

I’ve had major surgery three times in my adult life, and each time, it took me months afterwards to be able to go to sleep. The trauma of having my body invaded that way while unconscious from the anesthetic raised my fear of sleep = death to unbearable levels. In each case, it was a homeopathic remedy from a naturopath that finally relieved the insomnia. 9/11 and flashbacks to the burning Twin Towers brought it back for a while.

More Sleep Tips from a Veteran Insomniac

I should start with the obligatory disclaimer. I’m not a doctor and thus not qualified to diagnose, prescribe, treat…or to do colonoscopies either, for that matter, even though there are plenty of congressmen I’d love to give them to.

And there are lots and lots of purely physical causes for insomnia, like chronic pain, overactive bladder, after effects of a head injury, middle of the night hypoglycemia, yadda, yadda. So do have your board certified and state licensed MD check you out for medical problems.

I’d wager good money that he’s going to decide you have sleep apnea and need to go to bed with a machine that blows air up your nose all night. Doctors love medical machinery and other shiny new gadgets, but very few of them have ever tried sleeping with a contraption like that. In my utterly unqualified and admittedly cranky opinion, a diagnosis of sleep apnea is a crock at least half the time! Sorry, ignore that rant. They’ll probably delete it from this blog anyway, so just pretend I never said it.

Besides the Rescue Remedy, I regularly use a mild homeopathic sleep aid called Calms Forte and herbs that soothe the nervous system like Skullcap and Avena, as well as Vitamin B compounds. When I’ve been working too hard mentally, I take a cell salt called Kali Phos to soothe the overstim—but that’s more of a brain food to calm a Uranus type of wakefulness.

I seem to be phasing caffeine out, much as I love it, and that helps. I don’t eat red meat at night because it keeps me awake. I taper down on the fluids after supper, as that cuts down on the middle of the night bathroom breaks. When I go to bed, I do deep breathing and try to blank my mind out. Keeping the room a little cold helps, but if my feet get cold, I can’t go to sleep, so I wear socks.

I don’t know if my tips can help you or not. But, hey, I’m no doctor, so please don’t think I’m diagnosing or prescribing, I’m just reporting what works for me. If you want to read what an expert has to say, see The Insomnia Blog by Sleep Doctor Michael Breus, Ph.D .... also has a Sleep Disorders Health Center online with a wealth of articles.

I could use some new tips myself! What about you, Reader? What works for you when you have trouble getting to sleep? Let us hear about it in the comment section.


What Ivory Phoenix says about herself: I’m a professional amateur, so I don’t have a website of my own yet. If I got just a smidgeon of encouragement, I’d start a blog for rants like these. I’d call it Ivory’s Ebony Inklings: The Dark Side of the New Age. Meantime, see more of my writing here: Ivory's Other Articles.

Photo Credit: Girl wide awake © Qwasyx

Cartoons from Ivory’s private clip art collection

This article is featured in Pluto Problems Got You Perplexed? Here’s What Helps! published by Skywriter as Part of the 2010 International Astrology Day Blogathon. The purpose of this web-based event is to create a permanent library of articles about how to deal with the stresses of the Cardinal T-Square of Pluto, Saturn and Uranus. The main page for the Blogathon collections is at The Cardinal T-Square of 2010: Saturn, Uranus, Pluto.


Anonymous said...

Great post and some v helpful advice too. I find myself going to bed earlier and waking up earlier, but maybe that's old age creeping up on me! When I wake up early, inevitably with my brain turning cartwheels, I tend to give in to it, make myself a cuppa and read a book (some vampire story or other would be my current favorite). I too would prefer to sleep alone (but don't tell my husband I said that), but the cat sleeping on the bed is a real comfort. I put drops of lavender essential oil on my pillow, I find that really helps me relax and also stops the cat sleeping on my head and making a nest out of my hair!

Lynda Hill said...

Hi Ivory
Great article! I have to admit to being hugely Plutonic - Pluto in the 8th t-squaring (almost exactly) my exact Sun (Scorpio) - Moon (Taurus) opposition. Pluto aspects just about everything in my chart but for a few planets that I have in early Scorpio... silent groan.
I've struggled with insomnia forever, but have found an amazing thing that helps enormously - drum roll - Mulungu Erythrina. You can look it up on the site. It's an Amazon rainforest herb and it puts you to sleep in a wonderful way. I've tried everything, this herb (made from the bark of a tree) is the trick. Thought I'd share... I was ecstatic to find it.
BTW, it's also good for hysteria...
Lynda Hill

Victoria Bazeley said...

Consider this a smidgen of encouragement and rant away!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ivory
Funny article. I'm very Plutonian (it aspects everything in my chart and I also have 3 inner planets in Scorpio) but I generally do not have sleep issues. My astrologer friend feels that my usual ability to sleep deeply is related to having a Moon/Pluto conjunction and it is true that I normally am not plagued with this issue. The Moon/Pluto conjunction is its own issue not to be discussed here. However, Pluto is currently transiting my Mid-heaven and I have experienced this affliction more than I normally do. I try to NOT read books I can't put down upon going to bed, the lights are dim, the room is cool and the hour is not too late. And reading something boring can help too. Good luck!