Sleep tips from a clinical hypnotherapist

Who doesn’t want a good night’s sleep, for many sleep is an elusive, and yet sleep is vital for our well-being.  Long term sleep exhaustion affects our health, and there is alarming new research emerging about just how serious the negative impact of sleep deprivation is to our health and wellbeing.   Michigan State University’s Sleep and Learning Lab conducted one of the largest sleep studies to date, and it showed that sleep deprivation affects us much more than prior theories have thought.

“Our research showed that sleep deprivation doubles the odds of making placekeeping errors and triples the number of lapses in attention, which is startling,” Associate. Professor Kimberley Fenn stated.  Placekeeping is defined as the ability to complete a series of steps without losing one’s place, so that means concentration, focus and cognitive ability.

The co-authors Michelle Stepan, MSU doctoral candidate and Erik Altmann, professor of psychology warned that;  “Sleep-deprived individuals need to exercise caution in absolutely everything that they do, and simply can’t trust that they won’t make costly errors. Oftentimes – like when behind the wheel of a car – these errors can have tragic consequences.”    

There is a misconception that sleep is when the body shuts done and rests.  Sleep is a crucial time for our mind and body’s wellbeing, it is considered the time when all the vital and necessary housekeeping is done, like cleaning up unwanted proteins, and filing memories and information.  Think of it as when you nod off to sleep the cleaners come in, put the rubbish in the bin, pack everything back into the cupboards and sweep the floor. 

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just affect our decision making, it affects our mood and ability to cope with stress, our overall behavioural responses can change, emotions like anger, frustration, mood swings, concentration, attention, and memory are all impacted, and not in a good way.

If you are one of the **33-45% of people suffering with sleep issues we have some simple yet practical tips that tap into the powerful techniques of hypnosis.  The process of hypnosis is firstly learning to calm yourself, as once we are in a calm state, we tap into our unconscious mind, and we can use visualisation and make suggestions to ourselves of what we want.  The guiding principle of hypnosis is to help your body relax itself and train your brain to focus on what you want it to –  in this case sleep.   

TECHNIQUES

The Breath

Everyone seems to promote the power of the breath, and there is a reason for that – because it is powerful. Deep breathing activates the vagus nerve, which in simple terms tells your brain to relax, it engages the parasympathetic system, our “rest and digest” system.  

Box breathing is a simple technique to start with – 

Step 1 Slowly exhale 

Step 2 Slowly inhale through your nose to the count of four. 

Step 3 Hold your breath for another slow count of four. 

Step 4 Exhale through your mouth for four. 

Use the rhythm of your breath as a visualisation tool, so as you breathe in see the words ‘sleep’ in your mind, and as you breath out, let go of any thoughts.  

Sleep Blanket Body Scan

The progressive muscle relaxation technique of tensing and releasing different muscle groups, moving from your toes to your head, is also a powerful technique to signal to the body – ok it’s time for rest. You can be creative with this technique and add in visualisation, as you move from the toes up the body, in your mind tell each part of you it’s time for quiet it’s bedtime. Just imagine each part of your body preparing for a state of deep calm.

Take this further and imagine that a comfy ‘Sleeping blanket’ is being draped on each part of you, starting at your feet, it’s warm and comfortable and soothing, and slowly moving up the legs, all the way up the torso, up to the neck, and each part of your body deeply relaxes and is comfortable.

Turn the lights off … in your mind

Start with a breathing exercise, imagine the breath is calming your blood pressure, heart beat and nervous system.  Now imagine just as you switch off the lights in your house when its bedtime, imagine you switch off yourself. Imagine a series of switches in your mind, so there might be a switch for ‘the buzz or busyiness from the day’ imagine yourself switching that off,  now imagine there is another switch that says ‘chatter of your mind’ see and feel yourself you are turning off this switch too.  This visualisation is one of the sessions on the app – switching off for sleep.

Visualise Calming Scenes

Visualise yourself floating in water relaxing, as you float in water imagine you are washing the cares of the day off you and floating into a place of calm restful night sleep.  Floating on a cloud up into the skies ready for a good night’s sleep.  

Tweak, and find what works for you

Unfortunately, it be so easy to slip into a bad sleep routine, so building a consistent new habit is important. Have a toolkit of relaxation strategies that work for you. If the thought of floating on a cloud is your worst nightmare then don’t persist.  Work towards creating a new sleep routine and habit for yourself. If you have a bad night sleep, tomorrow is a new day, start again tweak the routine.

Do what works for you, and this might be a case of trial and error. Be patient with yourself, building new habits does take time, but the benefits are worth it. 

* *Research by the Sleep Health Foundation

 

CLAIRE ARISTIDES

Founder of Mindology.app

Clinical Hypnotherapist, Founder Mindology App an app to calm and empower the mindset available on apple and android.

@mindology.app    [email protected]

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