Insomnia and how to improve sleep
We all tend to have our own individual sleep patterns
Sleep is a great worry, because we may feel that we aren’t getting the amount of sleep we think we should, especially if sleep patterns become disturbed.
It’s interesting that when studies have been carried out… many people discover that they are actually sleeping more than they realised…
First and foremost, remember….
The mind is not here to harm you, it thinks it is helping you, it may find you what you don’t want, your mind thinks that you want it. because you thought it
Clients want to feel that feeling of sleep, but they resist without trying to, but really it is so easy and normal to just drift off into a deep and relaxing sleep.
We first need to find that energetic person waking up in the morning, after that deep and relaxing sleep.
To see yourself arising with a gentle smile and a spring in your step… full of energy, full of vitality… full of being everything that being you means…
We want to guide the psyche away from the surviving bit, you’re already supremely good at that bit, hence why you are now feelings these feelings that people have called insomnia.
What you really want is to thrive not survive, because thriving is much more enjoyable and beneficial to both mind and body.
We survive without thinking just as we breath without thinking, we just do, but thriving takes a bit more of our time and concentration and it really is worth the effort to move into this more positive life affirmation framework.
Security is based on what is familiar so feelings of low or no sleep form part of our natural security system, the more familiar it is, the more it can become hardwired into a security system. It’s a natural flaw that often works to beneficial effect, brushing teeth for example, so the use of hypnotherapy is to guide the mind away from what it thought was a beneficial truth.
We know what is true, and yes it might be true that you’re not getting restful sleep, but how can we turn that truth you don’t want to a beneficial truth you really do deserve?
That is where our training really comes into play, we can help guide the mind like a child, without forcing, if it feels the alternative truth has more benefits, we can easily guide into a new pattern or a new way of being that after a short time will provide its own security and familiarity.
We don’t need a sledge hammer to open a door when all it needed was a gentle push on the handle.
First and foremost we always ensure the client has consulted with their GP/Dr before starting any work and always obtain their consent at the consultation then send a letter to their Dr, just to be certain that any potential medical issues, including current medications have not been a contributory factor, if they are of course we can still assist, but would work closely with the medical team involved and always with their permission.
We provide a basic structure, which is both flexible and adaptable to the client’s needs. Everyone is an individual and will have very individual circumstances.
We can use hypnotherapy and direct suggestion in some but not all circumstances, and always tailored to the client’s specific needs.
We get more of an idea of what those needs are by questions and answers, and more importantly through careful observation of the clients body language, facial expressions, and demeanor when answering, sometimes questioning quite extensively and covering many personal issues if presented, and the emotions attached to them, regret, guilt, shame, embarrassment, stress, any unresolved issues past or present and always covering the basics, environment. bed quality, bedroom layout, ventilation, heating, pillows, eating & drinking habits, relationship status, current work situation, home/life balance.
Insomnia, as any sufferer will attest, usually carries the sensation that the mind “just won’t stop,” or that the “Brain is busy all the time.”
This part of the brain is the physical body’s ‘watchdog’ in many ways, since it is concerned with just about every autonomic function, including several fundamental processes which operate for the most part below the level of conscious control, but which are essential for survival. Within this system are the amygdala (the centre of emotional activity) and the hypothalamus, which regulates sleep but also monitors hormones, fat metabolism, temperature, thirst, hunger, sexual responses and more.
It is easy to understand why this part of the brain can inhibit the sleep process!
We want to help the client to understand that to an extent at least, what they are experiencing is a ‘normal’ process.
- You are hardwired for survival
- Your genes and ancestral DNA has helped your very existence by this gift, handed down from your ancestors.
- Not all gifts feel precious all of the time.
- We still have freewill to choose, but we don’t need will power, in fact quite the opposite.
- The power of will is strong but it can often be more negatively orientated, helping you with the what isn’t rather than the what is.
- Will has the power to ruin any good sleep party.
- What we need is the free bit of will to succeed.
Before good sleep we need to have good wake, things that can drain wakefulness are lack of sleep, hence the cycle that leads to insomnia, but also general fatigue, stress, illness, hormone cycles and depression.
Hypnosis is deep relaxation, we help people to take good care of themselves by paying attention to their physical factors and rather than muscling through or beating themselves up for not being able to overcome them, we help them set reasonable goals and hold them lightly to reduce any overwhelming feelings that are already contributing to the feelings of fatigue.
Hypnosis is a form of “brightening the mind” – We look to deliberately activate an internal sense of energizing and enlivening the mind through scripted work. In physiological terms, this is often correlated with a surge of norepinephrine, nora-pin-ef-rine which helps you feel alert, relaxed, and exploratory (to focus of attention).
Other factors are Posture, oxygen and balancing the diet, protein calories can crowd out sugars and even out insulin metabolism.
In effect, the sense of safety tells the brain that it can afford to bring the troops in that have been manning those battlements in the mind that are constantly scanning the forests and fields for danger. Hypnosis helps but brain to put them to work internally keeping an eye on the breath, without controlling or forcing so the breath can be part of being, just as sleep should be, not controlling, or forcing, just being part of the natural life cycle.
- Hypnosis can help bring to conscious awareness that you are familiar in the setting that is safe.
- Relaxing the body – Besides its psychological benefits, relaxing shunts blood flows away from unnecessary muscle metabolism, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your inner organs and the brain.
- Diaphragmatic breathing – Especially exhalation
- Imagery – Spaciousness.
- Taking refuge – “We all need somebody to lean on.
- A hypnotherapist can help guide towards and provide positive emotions and feelings through words as well as guided imagery.
Things that you can do for yourself today
- When feeling stressed adopt a soft smile, a technique, that provides a feedback loop to the emotional circuit, a key component to how we think and feel.
- Activating positive emotions can help with oxytocin production, a key to warm feelings of safety and contentment.
- We need to create what we want to find in the mind.
- Establish intentions of what you do want rather than what you don’t.
- Thinking softly “I don’t care about that, I’m not interested in thoughts or feelings or other sensations, I’m just going to enjoy the feeling of my breath, deeply relaxed with each and every breath I take, enjoying the exhalation.”
- Experiment with “batting away” or turning away from distracting thoughts, before they fully take hold, return your focus to the feeling of relaxation, gently, without anger or suppression.
- Remind yourself you can think about intrusive thoughts, feelings, problems, etc., when you wake if you wish to.
- If you need to, shift the object of attention to an intrusive stimulus, and enjoy the feelings of relaxation as you blend with it, (a hard one but it can be done with practice and soft smiles).
- Intensify the contact with the desired object of attention. For example, count the breath, “rising,” “falling,” “in,” “out.” But bring a sense of emotional warmth, fondness, even devotion to the object, your breath for example, that increases your sense of full engagement with it.
Managing the Hunger for New Stimulation
• Increase your sensitivity to stimulation through sensory awareness. Focussing on the “neutral”. That’s training your brain to, turn up the gain on your receptors so that they can receive and stay with a relatively unstimulating experience.
• Be honest and kind with yourself about your temperament, especially if you have spirited or ADD/ADHD tendencies.
Consider letting yourself attend more to the breath as a whole, or letting your attention move freely among the different sensations of the breath (e.g., belly, diaphragm, heart, upper lip, internal airways). Also consider doing more walking relaxation if your brain’s preferred resting state requires more stimulation, this will help find common connection of resting phase.
• Re-orient to each part of the breath as a fresh stimulus.
Have a sense of “beginner’s mind, or “don’t know mind” for each breath, seeing its uniqueness. Further, try to pay attention to an increasing granularity of detail, such as the sensation of coolness or warmth at one spot on the upper lip.
• Trick the basal ganglia, to dampen its hunger for stimulation, by stimulating it with positive feelings. First, specifically try to call up or evoke a feeling of sufficiency, no need for anything else, contentment.
Second, activate a release of the hormone, oxytocin – which dampens the hunger for new stimulation – by imagining being hugged by someone who loves you for half a minute or so.
Third, savour the pleasant sense of absorption itself.
Quieting the Mind
Review of Methods
• Take a few minutes to satiate on and then ignore recurring sounds and sensations.
- Tell yourself to think about intrusive topics later.
- “Bat away” distracting thoughts or feelings.
- If need be, shift the object of attention to be an intrusive stimulus, and surrender to that.
Many streams and once ocean, they are all separate and should be treated as such, but they are in the tool box of many therapists.
I Taught mindfulness 8-week pathway following the MBSR Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program.
Most clients fell asleep during sessions using breath techniques and reported sleeping better than ever on the days we studied and performed mindfulness techniques.
Most clients suffer fatigue and taking time to be kind to themselves led to better sleep quality long term.
A good number of them had already been using MP3’s from my website which are written by Terence Watts and recorded by myself with his kind permission. These covered Fear, guilt, anxiety, weight management, self-esteem and pain management.
Other case studies given with kind permission by John Cinderey have involved feeling trapped on the wrong side of the bed, anxiety about past infidelity and buried guilt, dwelling on past issues from years ago, just finding difficulty switching off at night after a busy day, guilt over a one-time event of theft and fear they would be found out. Physical discomfort in legs when in bed. Snoring partner, uncomfortable new bed, sleeping too close to a door, various anxiety future/upcoming events. Making a speech, a presentation, exams, tests, interview getting married and many more.