Getting eight hours of good quality sleep is essential for our physical wellbeing and mental health. Sadly, sleep problems in the UK (and the rest of the world) are on the rise. The consequences of sleep deprivation for the countries mental health could be catastrophic. Clinical hypnosis, can be incredibly effective in helping people achieve great sleep, let’s briefly explore the essential role of sleep and look at some practical steps you can also take.
The effects of the deep sleep phase of our sleep cycle for repairing our bodies is well known. What is less well known is the vital role that REM sleep plays in our mental health which is as equally essential, or even more so. The REM phase sleep accounts for just 20% of our sleep pattern is responsible for organising and storing the events of the day captured in the limited storage of our short term memory. This mind-clearing action governs how well we handle the following day and so on; this is why we always perform better after a good nights sleep. The old sage advice of “sleep on it” couldn’t be more accurate. When we are regularly sleeping well, we cope with day to day life without stress, anxiety or depression. A good nights sleep even helps us cope better with physical pain.
While hypnotherapy can help with the deeper issues that cause chronic sleep problems, here are a few practical steps you can take to help to improve your chances of getting a good nights sleep.
#1 Stick to a Sleep schedule
Our sleep patterns are just that, a pattern, so it is important to go to bed and wake at the same times each day, including the weekend. Set an alarm each night to remind you ‘to go to bed’.
While it’s well known that taking exercise aids sleep, it’s important to understand that exercising too close to bedtime is counterproductive. Ideally, we need to finish our exercise 2-3 hours before bed, giving our metabolism time slow down.
So it’s no surprise that caffeine isn’t going to help anyone find sleep. It’s a stimulant and actively keeps us awake. What people don’t always realise just how long it stays in our system – up to 8 hours! The long period which caffein remains active means, if you have a tea or coffee at 6 pm, it’s still working to keep you awake at 2 am! Another thing to note is that caffeine-free tea and coffee still contain caffeine, it’s also in chocolate. And if you smoke, before you light that bedtime cigarette, you need to be aware that nicotine is also a stimulant.
While a glass or two might make us feel sleepy, it has the opposite effect as it wears off and can wake us up. It can also cause breathing problems, a dry mouth and throat causing snoring that could disrupt sleep.
The biggest problem with alcohol, though is that it has a massive and negative impact on the quantity of vital REM sleep phase. Alcohol reduces our amount of REM we get, even removing it from our sleep patterns. REM sleep is essential to our mental health and is especially important if the root of the sleep problem is anxiety or depression based. Alcohol will compound anxiety and depression.
#5 Late night eating and drinking
It’s good practice to avoid large meals before bedtime and going to bed on a full stomach. When we eat, our bodies get to work digesting the food which is not conducive to sleeping. Overeating can also cause indigestion, further disrupting our sleep.
Avoid large beverages; these can disturb our sleep and even wake us up if we need to use the toilet.
Some medication can disrupt sleep, if this is happening, it may be possible to take them at a different time of the day, talk to your GP.
IMPORTANT: Talk to your GP before changing any medication regime.
Napping can be beneficial for catching up on lost sleep and especially useful to people struggling to sleep through, but napping after 3 pm can make it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime.
#8 Take some time to Relax
Take some time to relax and unwind before bed. Make reading, or listening to relaxing music a part of your nighttime ritual. Watching TV, surfing the net etc. doesn’t help us relax because it engages us, so it can be stimulating rather than relaxing. Still, the biggest problem is that TV and computer/phone type devises emit blue light. Being exposed to light in the evening confuses our circadian rhythm (body clock) into thinking its much earlier; this stops us creating the melatonin that signals when it’s time to sleep.
#9 Take a bath
Taking a bath before bed can be relaxing in its own right. When we get out of the bath, the drop in body temperature signals to our mind that it’s time to sleep.
#10 Dark, Cool and Gadget-Free
Keeping your bedroom dark is a natural signal to our body clock that it’s time to sleep.
In nature, temperatures drop at night, and a cooler bedroom temperature is another signal to us that it’s time to sleep. Turning the radiator down or off in an evening can help enormously.
Don’t have anything in the bedroom that can distract or disturb you, including a visible clock. TV’s, phone’s and any light-emitting tech is not a friend of sleep.
Bonus tip #1
Finally, if you’re struggling to get to sleep, don’t lie in bed awake for longer than 20-30 minutes. Get up and do something relaxing, like reading or listening to listening to music. Struggling to get to sleep can cause us to start thinking in a way that causes anxiety, making it even harder to sleep.
Bonus tip #2
Use dimmed lights in an evening. Bright lights, especially blue emitting LED’s which artificially recreate daylight, fool our natural body clock, reducing the production of melatonin. Melatonin is the chemical in our bodies that tell us it’s time to go to sleep.
Hypnotherapy for Sleep
These 12 sleep tips are scientifically proven to help people to sleep and improve their sleep quality, but ff you are experiencing sleep problems, hypnotherapy can help. If you are finding it difficult to get to sleep, experiencing disturbed sleep or waking up during the night, it’s a sign of other issues at play, and this is where hypnotherapy can help. Poor quality sleep is a symptom; it’s not the problem. Solution focused hypnotherapy focuses peoples attention on finding the answers and away from the problem; this makes it a very effective and positive therapy and experience.
Hypnotherapy can help sleep become easy and natural again – just as it should be