It is estimated than around 1 in 3 of us are struggling with our sleep, with many people developing poor sleeping habits. It is important to seek medical advice if you are struggling to sleep as it may be an indication of an underlying medical problem. There are significant health problems associated with regular lack of sleep, including depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and heart failure. In our increasing busy lives, it is useful to know what steps we can take to get into a good sleep pattern. Clinical Hypnotherapist Stephen McMurray gives ten steps to hypnotise yourself to getting a better night’s sleep.
Sleep is natural to babies and young children. As we get older all sorts of pressures affect our natural sleeping pattern. Hypnosis comes from the Greek god of sleep hypnos. Hypnosis involves entering a trance like state of narrowed focus and increased suggestibility. Hypnosis is ideal in helping people sleep better as it relaxes both the body and mind and can help create a healthy night-time routine.
- Develop a relaxing nigh time routine
Make sure you feel relaxed before you go to bed. If you have been busy working on something it will be hard for your brain to switch off. Leave an hour to relax before going to bed. Maybe have a warm bath. If you do have some worries, write them down and leave them to deal with the next day.
- Make sure your environment is good to sleep in
It is important that your bedroom is right for you to sleep in. It is more difficult to get a good night’s sleep if you find your bed uncomfortable. Is the duvet right for you for the time of year? It is also more difficult to sleep if there is too much light or noise outside, or not well ventilated. So, make your bedroom right for you to sleep in.
- Making sleep your goal
When you are going to bed it is important that you are making sleep your goal and not using your bed to work in or watch TV and that you are tired and ready to sleep. Otherwise, you will associate your bed with these activities and you will expect to be alert and awake when you go to bed. Therefore, you need make sleep your goal and associate your bed with sleeping.
- Undertake a body scan
Starting at the top of your head, tense up the muscles, then make them go relaxed. Continue with this routine going down your body. Tense up the muscles and then relax them. Go through the rest of your head, down to your neck, shoulders, arms, back, stomach, legs, feet and toes. Make those muscles limp.
- Deep breathing
Breathing is an integral part of relaxation. When you have finished undertaking your body scan and your body is nice and relaxed, you are ready to undertake some deep breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose from the diaphragm and slowly exhale through the mouth. Repeat several times.
After your body and mind are relaxed it is useful to visualise a relaxing place as focusing on an image can increase feelings of drowsiness. So, think about the most relaxing place you can think of, maybe a favourite beach or park. Get the picture very clear and any sounds or smells you can imagine.
One method to deepen your state of relaxation in preparation is to count down from ten. In addition to counting down, you may wish to add a mantra to each number you count down. Mantras help focus the mind on what you want to channel. For example, ten restful, nine relaxed, eight sleepy, seven peaceful, six drowsy, five calm, four still, three tranquil, two tired, one sleep. Say your mantra on when you exhale and focus on the meaning of your mantras.
- Suggest sleeping
Often people who struggle to sleep do actually sleep some of the night, but don’t realise that they do sleep some of the night. It is important to give yourself reassurance that you can gradually fall asleep and give yourself suggestions about your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
- Return to sleep
Some people have no problems getting to sleep, but often wake up through the night, sometimes to use the toilet. As part of your self-hypnosis applications, you can make suggestions to reduce your fluid intake before going to bed and also your ability to fall asleep again.
- Self-hypnosis recording
Making your own sleep self-hypnosis recording can help you get into a regular routine to help you sleep better, especially if you are having any difficulty remembering any of the above steps. You can choose your own relaxing music for your recording, your own images, suggestions and mantras.