Henriette Joubert: “Knowing what is keeping you awake and finding solutions”

Knowing what is keeping you awake and finding solutions. Recently, while focusing on my relationship and career, hopes, and dreams, menopause came to visit. Oestrogen levels plummeted bringing on hot flushes, mood swings and muscle and joint pain. These symptoms in and of themselves impacted my sleep pattern. Mood swings made it difficult to unwind […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Knowing what is keeping you awake and finding solutions.

Recently, while focusing on my relationship and career, hopes, and dreams, menopause came to visit. Oestrogen levels plummeted bringing on hot flushes, mood swings and muscle and joint pain. These symptoms in and of themselves impacted my sleep pattern. Mood swings made it difficult to unwind before going to bed, and night flushes kept waking me up! With self-study I learned that Oestrogen also affects how my body utilises magnesium, a pivotal mineral for sleep!


Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest has become extremely elusive to many of us. Why is sleep so important and how can we make it a priority?

In this interview series called “Sleep: Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen” we are talking to medical and wellness professionals, sleep specialists, and business leaders who sell sleep accessories to share insights from their knowledge and experience about how to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.

As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview Henriette Joubert.

Henriette is a Forensic Psycho-physiologist as well as a didactic Biodanza facilitator, with many years’ experience in the willful stimulation and balancing of human homeostasis. During Lie Detecting sessions her objective is to stimulate the examinees’ homeostasis — to activate their fight-flight response. And, during a Biodanza session her objective is to relax and balance homeostasis.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your backstory?

I am a proud mother to two adults, now single and loving it, a perpetual student of Life and currently playing with a healthy passage through menopause and beyond, to live my best life yet.

I have always had an intense passion for understanding my body and how it works, metaphysics, and especially how to support my body to function optimally.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?

In 1998 a friend introduced me to Biodanza, a dance practice of personal development, where the magical triad of movement, music, and interaction with others, helps us to drop thinking-, feeling- and doing patterns that do not serve us. Freeing us to be who we already are.

Around the same time my then husband left the Police Services to become one of South Africa’s first Polygraphists in private practice. He consulted, and I supported with administration.

I qualified as a facilitator of Biodanza in 2001, a turning point in my life. Sadly, in 2006 my husband and I divorced after 17 years of marriage. On the upside, I also qualified as a Forensic Psycho-physiologist, starting up my own practice.

I have been dancing and verifying the truth ever since.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the sleep and wellness fields? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

Through both my careers (lie detection & dance facilitation) I found myself becoming deeply knowledgeable and experienced in the paradox of stimulating and balancing homeostasis. In biology, homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems. I now understand how good health comes from balanced homeostasis, and I have become an authentic authority on my own health and wellness over the years.

As perimenopause introduced itself and my sleep patterns changed, I began investigating how I could get a good night’s rest without it being chemically induced. My background in both the stimulation and balancing of homeostasis brought the solution. And this knowledge and experience is what I now offer to those working toward their own wellness.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Gosh, there are so many books, and of course music that played a significant role in my journey. Of all the books the little ‘Heal Your Body’ by Louise. L Hay remains in my library, and the song ‘Nature Boy’ — the Celine Dion version specifically, touched me to the core.

These two have been references and reminders I return to regularly when faced with life’s challenges.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return” — These words describe my life journey exactly. The lessons and experiences of growth contained therein are many.

The most significant learning for me has been that the outpouring of our love towards others can and should be equal to the capacity of the receiver. Too much overwhelms all, and too little leaves everyone bereft.

On the other hand, loving self has no limits. I learned quite late in my life that true love begins with selflove. I do not mean selflove as an act of being selfish. Rather, asking myself constantly ‘Is this good for me?’ And ‘How can I make this good for all concerned, including me?’ Asking these question in all areas of my life; emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, socially, and financially. This was when menopause became hugely empowering.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with the basics. How much sleep should an adult get? Is there a difference between people who are young, middle-aged, or elderly?

I could give you the scientific answers, but these can be Googled, looked up on the internet; there is so much research out there! However, I have the approach that each person is unique, and we should all make the effort to feel it through, for ourselves. Staying open-minded and open-hearted to the fact that everything changes. When it comes to sleep hours, listen to your body.

Is the amount of hours the main criteria, or the time that you go to bed? For example, if there was a hypothetical choice between getting to bed at 10PM and getting up at 4AM, for a total of 6 hours, or going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 10AM for a total of 8 hours, is one a better choice for your health? Can you explain?

To the ‘early bird’ the 4AM wake-up would be natural, and to the ‘night owl’ staying awake to 2AM, easy. Staying with the understanding that everyone is unique, I would recommend that whenever you put your head on the pillow your aim would be for your brain waves to transition, and this happens naturally and easily when our homeostasis is in balance. So, your focus should be in my opinion, the state of relaxation your body is in, before going to sleep.

Balanced homeostasis allows for the brainwave transition from the first stage of non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep where your heart rate and breathing slow down and your eyes begin to relax, which is relatively short, lasting only minutes.

During stage and three your heart rate and breathing rate slow down even more. Your muscles relax further, and eye movements stop. The body temperature also goes down. Although the brain waves slow down further, stage three also includes bursts of electrical signals in the brain that signals cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to be flushed through your brain and spinal cord. This deep sleep then being the most important stage of sleep.

REM sleep is then the fourth stage of the sleep cycle, about 90 minutes after falling asleep, where our eyes dart back and forth behind closed eyelids. This state is closer to the wakeful state than the other stages of sleep. Brain waves start to resemble the brain waves of the wakeful state and our heartbeat and breathing rate speed up.

We cycle through these stages, so, this is where the amount of time we allocate to our sleep becomes important. The amount of deep sleep that we get will relate to how much overall sleep we get. Sleeping 7 to 9 hours is the recommendation for most adults, which will usually give the body plenty of time in the deeper states of sleep.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for our readers. Let’s imagine a hypothetical 35 year old adult who was not getting enough sleep. After working diligently at it for 6 months he or she began to sleep well and got the requisite hours of sleep. How will this person’s life improve? Can you help articulate some of the benefits this person will see after starting to get enough sleep? Can you explain?

This hypothetical 35-year-old adult’s brain and spinal cord will have been flushed with CSF every 20 seconds during their deep sleep cycle stimulated by large, slow electrical waves, carrying away waste products.

As CSF increases, blood flow decreases in the brain, meaning the heart is resting and metabolic regeneration can kick in. An adult getting enough good quality deep sleep will:

  • Age slower
  • Lose weight easily
  • Have improved appearance
  • Not be so susceptible to disease.

Many things provide benefits but they aren’t necessarily a priority. Should we make getting a good night’s sleep a major priority in our life? Can you explain what you mean?

I remember being 35, homeostasis constantly stimulated. Oscillating between the invincibility of youth and sensing that something is afoot. Life’s challenges were coming at me left, right and center. My relationship, children, career, hopes, and dreams were all clamoring for attention at the same time, leaving me yearning for the carefree days and restful nights of childhood.

Enough, good quality deep sleep is an absolute necessity, no matter our age or what time we get to bed.

Vital tissues all throughout the body are repaired, especially in the brain. Brain cells regenerate, proteins are cleaned out that contribute to keeping memory and optimized cognitive function, and the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released.

Not only does deep sleep contribute to keeping diseases such as stroke, diabetes, and cancer at bay, it also fortifies us with the emotional, mental, and physical strength to live life fully, as well as meeting our challenges with courage, repeatedly.

The truth is that most of us know that it’s important to get better sleep. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? How should we remove those obstacles?

Time: we tend to believe that we do not have enough time in any given day to ‘get things done’. The truth is we have not prioritized our emotional, mental, and physical health, and this is a huge mistake. If lack of time is your reason for not looking after yourself so that you can get a good nights’ deep sleep, I remind you that your family, health, success, and sense of fulfillment, is directly impacted by your ability to first care for yourself.

Boundaries: not setting them. Women especially tend to overextend themselves for many reasons. We do not say ‘No’, enough. For the sake of peace, out of a sense of responsibility, out of habit of putting others first, we just keep doing and giving. If you have trouble setting boundaries, I remind you again that your family, health, success, and sense of fulfillment, is directly impacted by your ability to first care for yourself.

Help: not asking for it. Coping alone with everything life throws at us, is an impossible task. Yet somehow, we believe we must, otherwise we are weak and unreliable. This is simply not true either. The ability to recognize our limitations and having the courage to ask for help is a sign of maturity and selfcare. I remind you again that your family, yeah you guessed it, health, success, and sense of fulfillment, is directly impacted by your ability to first care for yourself.

All these acts of selflove, taking care of ourselves first by making sure we sleep well, eventually lead to fulfilling personal relationships, health, and career success.

Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?

Certainly! Huge contributors to shallow sleep syndrome are tension, stress, and technology!

You might argue that stress and tension are part and parcel of being human, no matter what year you were born in, and I would agree. All generations’ homeostasis were and are stimulated by the stressors of the day, putting humans in perpetual ‘flight, fight or freeze’ mode as adrenaline also known as epinephrine, flooded their bloodstream.

However, today the blue light emitted by all electronic devices further stimulate homeostasis, demolishing our bodies’ ability to produce its natural deep sleep cycle hormones, melatonin being one of them. Technology unchecked is probably the number one contributor to the modern human not getting enough ‘good sleep’.

Homeostasis needs to be in balance for these hormones to be produced and released into our bloodstream, and we need to relearn how to bring our own homeostasis back into balance.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share “5 things you need to know to get the sleep you need and wake up refreshed and energized”? If you can, kindly share a story or example for each.

#1 Knowing what is keeping you awake and finding solutions.

Recently, while focusing on my relationship and career, hopes, and dreams, menopause came to visit. Oestrogen levels plummeted bringing on hot flushes, mood swings and muscle and joint pain. These symptoms in and of themselves impacted my sleep pattern. Mood swings made it difficult to unwind before going to bed, and night flushes kept waking me up! With self-study I learned that Oestrogen also affects how my body utilises magnesium, a pivotal mineral for sleep!

My sleep has much improved since I changed my diet to be more alkaline and instead of rigorous exercise I opted for yoga. I also followed my own Guided Preparation to Deep Sleep instructions, now available online in video and audio.

#2 Knowing your own natural rhythm and hours of sleep needed and how to accommodate it in your household.

My partner of 14years had truly short sleep cycles; every 4hours he would wake and inevitably wake me too. He was accustomed to his sleep pattern and magically thrived on it. I did not. These nightly disturbances were my lesson in respecting my own natural rhythm and hours of sleep needed. I learned to set boundaries and saying ‘no’. I am happy to say we did find a way to accommodate each other’s sleep cycles amicably.

#3 Knowing what balanced homeostasis feels like and how to relax into yours

It may feel viscerally different to us all. But in general, balanced homeostasis is when we feel physically and emotionally safe, we tend to experience positive emotions and feelings, like joy or love.

I feel these positive emotions when I am home, with family or friends, doing what makes my blood sing, like dancing, meditating. I love to spend time in the outdoors, in my garden, or hiking in the mountains. What about you?

We each intrinsically know what our homeostasis feels like.

#4 Knowing your favorable sleep conditions and how to apply them

When I was younger, I could sleep through a hurricane. This is unfortunately not the case anymore. I discovered that I have become sensitive to the cycles of the moon, pulsating light of small appliances, electric current, ambient lighting, and noise.

Subsequently, when going to bed I draw the curtains during full moon, even though my garden is completely private. I either cover those pesky blinking tiny lights or switch the appliance off at the wall. My cell phone charges overnight at least 3m away from where I sleep. And my room is dark, door closed to inhibit any noisy disturbances.

I urge you to find the time and make the effort to ensure sleep disturbances are minimized as much as possible.

#5 Finding techniques that induce sleep for you and practice them

The trick to falling asleep and staying asleep is to remove tension, stress, and stimulus. So, before going to bed I release stress through movement & dance, elongate my tired and stiff muscles with stretches, and finally achieve a restful state through correct breathing.

What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?

DO NOT REACH FOR ANY OF YOUR DEVICES!

Do not stimulate your senses; keep the lights off or low, the room quiet, your body warm, and take the time to determine what is waking you and attempt to deal with it in as quiet a way as possible. Perhaps you need a warm, candlelit bath. You may need to stretch tension out of your limbs or practice deep breathing, and if you can, meditate.

What are your thoughts about taking a nap during the day? Is that a good idea, or can it affect the ability to sleep well at night?

I take naps. I allow these naps because I trust that I will wake as soon as my body and mind has been rejuvenated. These naps usually last only 15–20 minutes.

However, my mother for example does not dare to take a nap during the day, short or long. She will not sleep that evening.

This is where I return to my earlier point of bio-individuality.

We owe it to ourselves to investigate and explore what works for each of us. And, keeping an open mind and heart that we change all the time. Constant introspection and awareness are the key.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley. I believe he is a man who has made health, wealth and success, a priority through loving and caring for self and others.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Facebook

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

You might also like...

Cavan Images/ Getty Images
Sleep//

How Your Teen’s Daytime Habits Can Set the Stage for Better Sleep

by Lisa L. Lewis, MS
Westend61/ Getty Images
Sleep//

10 Simple Tips to Help You Get the Sleep You Need This Summer

by Marina Khidekel
How Better Sleep Can Improve Migraine
Community//

How Better Sleep Can Improve Migraine

by Elizabeth Burstein
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.