Wonderful sleep!

In the last blog we looked at ways to improve sleep. Many people commented on the blog, and so I am following up with some more information about sleep! Did you know that:

–          Sleep is very important to help us rest, recover from the day and recharge our energy.

–          Most people need between five and nine hours sleep a night (young people need longer sleeps).

–          Quality of sleep is probably more important than quantity.

–          When we sleep our brain wave pattern changes to delta and theta waves.

–          Deep or REM sleep usually occurs during the first few hours of sleep.

–          Insomnia is also referred to as DIMS or disorders of initiating or maintaining sleep.

Many clients say they struggle to get off to sleep, or they wake up and can’t get back to sleep, because their mind is so busy. We need to learn to switch this narrative part of the mind off at night! I am referring to that part of the mind that chatters about all sorts of things, especially worrying about or planning the future, or going over the past. Being mindful of the breath, using relaxation techniques or hypnosis can help calm and quieten the mind. Keeping a notepad and pen by the bed can also help – write down what is troubling you and deal with it in the morning.

There are some wonderful relaxation and hypnotic techniques which can aid sleep. These include:

  1. Relaxing your muscles head to toe, starting with the muscles of the face and gradually working your way through the different parts of the body.
  2. Being mindful of the breath (noticing the feel of the air as you breathe in and the feel of the air as you breathe out, the movements of the chest as you breathe in and out…).
  3. Counting backwards quietly in your mind from 300 to 1.
  4. Imagining going for a walk in the countryside, following a path that has a number of side paths; each of the side paths leads off to a place that has something to do with sleep – one spot might have a comfy bed with soft pillows and a warm duna, another might be a warm bath with lavender oil and yet another might have a hammock between two shady trees. You explore each side path and spend as long as you want relaxing there.
  5. Imagining a whiteboard in your mind’s eye. You have a marker and a cloth.
    • Slowly and carefully write the number one in the top left hand corner, and then in the middle of the board, write a word to do with sleep, such as bed. Write the letters slowly and see and feel the shape of them. Then rub the word off the board.
    • Write the number two in the top right hand corner, and then write another word to do with sleep in the middle of the board, perhaps dream. Then slowly rub it off.
    • Write the number three in the bottom right hand corner of the board, and then carefully write another word to do with sleep in the middle of the board. Rub it off.
    • Write the number four in the bottom left hand corner of the board, and another word to do with sleep in the middle of the board.
    • Continue writing numbers and words until you fall asleep!

(Note – several of these techniques aree adapted from Marlene Hunter, 1988.)

I hope that you find these ideas useful. Let me know if you have any other suggestions or questions about sleep. I plan to record a CD to aid sleep this year. Let me know if you are interested in it, and watch the website shop. In the meantime the ‘Keeping the blues away’ CD is helpful to relax by as you go to bed!

Hunter M. Daydreams for Discovery: a manual for hypnotherapists. West Vancouver, Canada: Sea Walk Press; 1988.




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