Sleep is a wonderful thing. It’s something that most of us take for granted. However, there are many people who can only dream of a good night’s sleep, provided they sleep long enough to dream.
Sleep is a very important part of our lives and an absolutely essential component for healthy living. Just as we need food and water for our survival, so we need sleep. Keeping our immune systems strong, our thinking processes fine-tuned, and our emotions on an even keel, good quality sleep enables us to function to our maximum capacity throughout the course of our day. It’s no surprise that the quality of our sleep relates directly to the quality of our waking lives. Just as lack of sleep and interrupted sleep patterns take their physical toll, so our cognitive processes are impacted. It becomes difficult to focus on our daily tasks. We become easily distracted and the quality of our performance is diminished. In certain aspects of our work and play, we might even become a danger to ourselves and others. So in order to be healthy both physically and emotionally, and to function at our maximum capacity during the course of our day, it’s absolutely essential that we get a good night’s sleep.
Hypnosis is a wonderful tool for relaxation and sleep because it’s largely the responsibility of the subconscious mind to keep us healthy and functioning to our maximum capacity. And if our subconscious mind has its own reasons for staying awake, then we need to address these underlying issues with hypnotherapy.
There are, however, some very practical steps that we can take to ensure that we have the very best chance of sleeping well. The following suggestions are all endorsed by the National Sleep Foundation in the UK.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is sometimes referred to as ‘the sleep hormone’. Its production is essential for good quality sleep, as it’s responsible for regulating our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are often referred to as our ‘body clock’. In fact, it’s a cycle that tells us when to sleep, when to get up, and even when to eat. When this cycle is disrupted, sleeping and eating habits become confused, and our minds and bodies pay the price.
Every 90 minutes or so we enter a slightly lighter stage of sleep. For most of us this means we may just toss and turn for a while before re-entering a deeper level of sleep. However, for those of us with a sleep disorder, this stage of lighter sleep can cause a state of complete wakefulness, followed by the inability to return to sleep. The production of serotonin is promoted by total darkness, so it’s essential that your room is in complete darkness while you sleep. One solution is blackout curtains. Another option, which is both easy and inexpensive, is to wear a contoured 3D sleep mask which I can say from personal experience is extremely effective.
It’s also advisable to be consistent with your bedtime each night, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body clock and helps you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. Avoid napping, especially in the afternoon. A power nap may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, then it’s best to avoid even short naps.
This next one might seem obvious, but bears repeating. Avoid any caffeinated drinks before bed. Something else worth considering is that large and/or spicy meals take more time to digest and should therefore not be eaten close to bedtime. It’s preferable to finish eating at least 3 hours before turning in for the night.
Also, avoid watching TV and using your laptop or other electronic devices before bed. Researchers have discovered that the human brain is confused by devices that emit bright light in the evening when the brain thinks it should be dark. This confusion then leads to disrupted sleep patterns.
Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour or two before bed doing a calming activity such as reading or listening to relaxing music. By practising a relaxing bedtime ritual you establish a pre-sleep ‘cool down’ period which your body then becomes used to and recognises as a pattern. A relaxing routine or activity right before bedtime, conducted away from bright lights, helps separate your waking activities from your sleep time.
Now…once you’ve gone to bed…If you find that you’re unable to sleep after ten minutes have elapsed, simply get up and go into another room. Then find something relaxing to do until you feel tired. Tidy a room. Put out your clothes for the next day. Water some plants. Make plans for the next day. This way, you won’t associate sleep difficulties with your bed or your bedroom, and you won’t get frustrated by the time wasted struggling to get back to sleep. But please remember, for the reasons I mentioned above, not to give in to the temptation to use any electronic devices at this time. That will simply stimulate your brain and make it more difficult for you to return to sleep.
If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be much closer to enjoying a good night’s sleep. However, if you find that you still experience difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep, then perhaps you’d like to try hypnosis. To arrange a complimentary consultation via Skype or Facetime, just contact me at email@example.com.