Insomnia & Sleep Problems
When your insomnia and sleep problems are taking over your life, contact Clinical Hypnotherapy Cardiff to treat your nocturnal awakening and the issues that are causing it.
Below are a series of articles on insomnia & sleep problems that can help you understand the nature of your insomnia. For more help, contact Richard J D’Souza to resolve all aspects of your sleeplessness.
Insomnia: Using Hypnotherapy to treat insomnia & sleep problems
How important is a good night’s sleep? Sleep is crucial for your health, your vitality and the maintenance of essential physiological and psychological processes. Various studies have demonstrated the part sleep plays in affecting cardio-vascular functioning, immunity, concentration and retention etc. Modern day living tends to run at a hectic pace and the quality of sleep is suffering.
If you suffer with insomnia, you have lost your natural sleeping routine. You enter a negative cycle of anxiety just thinking about going to sleep. You generate physical tension in bed, tossing and turning, stressing about how you will manage the next day. Your approach to sleeping has become a desperate situation. And when expectation is taking you to your insomnia, hypnotherapy can be an efficient way of teaching you how to transform your sleeping patterns. Hypnotherapy can introduce helpful relaxation techniques to stop your negative sleep ritual.
Relaxation has important links with good sleep patterns. It is the “pathway” into deeper sleep. Relaxation is also an essential time for when your mind resolves problems. When life is tempered with relaxation, it can release your mind from dealing with problems at night, allowing you to focus on sleep. It can ease your insomnia.
Relaxation can take many forms. Have you ever observed that when you are doing “simplistic” tasks, some of your worries “surge up” into your awareness as if wanting to be processed? Driving on a frequent journey is a good example. Your mind can slip into day-dreaming mode, problem-solving your working day ahead whilst driving. When you arrive you have almost forgotten the journey that you have just made. Because you are familiar with the journey, your mind doesn’t have to give it your full concentration.
This process can also occur when you are sat “watching” television (but not really bothering to take in any information). You are aware that you have switched-off, dealing with a more important issue. Your “problem-solving” mind is letting you know that something essential needs to be dealt with. Without having the time to resolve these issues earlier in the day, these worries and anxieties will accumulate, waiting to be resolved the next time you begin to relax. Without relaxation earlier in your day, that next situation will be at an inconvenient moment – when you are trying to get to sleep! So rather than ignoring this “problem-solving” request and causing it to build-up, use opportunities earlier in the day to manage your issues and then off-load them. Avoid “saving” it for bedtime to treat your insomnia!
Sometimes when you are extremely tired, you can override the effort of “getting” to sleep. Your exhaustion helps you drift off the moment your head hits the pillow. But the worries that are still lingering in your mind, worm their way into your dreams and develop a restless sleep pattern. Your unconscious mind is attempting to resolve these issues through your dreams but with the “dream director” completely limitless.
These intense dreams can be specifically related to your anxiety, as if regenerating the whole situation. The dream can also be ‘indirectly’ related to the issue, but has the common association of tension (heart racing, breathlessness, feeling of edginess etc.) Classic dreams of this type are the ones where you are being hunted. Unfortunately, the consequence of building up tension is that it wakes you up. Sometimes you can wake feeling panicky!
Having woken up, you are now lying there in the early hours with the after-effects of the dreamed problem. The remaining physical tension is lingering in your body. The stress you have generated means that you don’t have the natural tiredness responses as you did when you first went to sleep. The issues are tossed around until the alarm goes off. It is hardly surprising that you feel shattered by the morning and for the remains of the day. So it’s vital to use fatigue as a useful signal and cancel its effect with relaxation. This will prevent the negative sleep pattern from taking over you. Try soaking in a bath before bedtime as a gentle wind-down. Use self-hypnosis breathing techniques to calm your mind and treat your insomnia.
Some adverse sleep patterns can be quite ingrained. If you have a long history of insomnia, you would benefit from a course of regression hypnotherapy to help change the significance of your past traumas. This would benefit you because so much of your current behaviour is based on past association. Traumas that you experienced in your childhood can have a lasting impression on your present life. It can be transferred into your adult life and still affect your adult sleeping rituals. Past traumas such as hearing your parents arguing at night, can become integrated into night time feelings of anxiety.
These contravening (unconscious) emotions can resurface when (as the adult) you have a row with your partner and have an over-powering feeling of tension. Your sleep is disturbed and you feel agitated. You are more likely to retaliate at your partner and once again, you have (indirectly) entered your cycle of insomnia. In this deep-rooted situation, the negative reactions have re-emerged even though the argument is insignificant. Regardless of knowing your history, much of the emotion is still repressed. Hypnotherapy can help dispense with the emotion held in these past traumas. Hypnotherapy can also impart new relaxation breathing techniques so that you can renew your positive sleeping pattern.
Hypnotherapy can be a very beneficial treatment for your insomnia. It can refresh your sleep ritual and alter the conflicting negative cycle that your mind has now adopted. Hypnotherapy can teach you how to relax and change your belief system associated with recurrent insomnia. In a course a treatment, hypnotherapy will also help you to revise the meaning of your anxieties, both distant past and present. As a benefit, it changes your beliefs and what you expect from your sleep ritual. From the hypnotherapy perspective, it is so essential to believe that you can access a good night’s sleep! Use hypnotherapy as a dependable solution for your insomnia.
Insomnia: Relax in your day to help treat your insomnia
As a practising hypnotherapist, I find that insomnia has a common link with anxiety. Hypnotherapy patients who pursue help for other conditions are usually troubled by some minor sleep-related issue. It’s fair to assert that when you are sleeping well, you are also managing your anxiety.
Hypnotherapy offers several suggestions to cope with your insomnia. If your current sleeping habit is disrupted, it’s worth putting some of those changes into practise. When I am treating my insomnia patient with hypnotherapy, here is one significant change that I like to discuss with them. It also accompanies many other anxiety-related issues treated with hypnotherapy. It focuses on a holistic part of lifestyle management and ill-health prevention: the need to have relaxation in your day.
When life is comfortable, it’s easy to take it for granted. Feeling irritated when modern-day technological gadgets go wrong are examples of how you can mistakenly expect things to be there for you just when you want it. A worthy night’s sleep is another one of those taken-for-granted expectations. When you were a young child, “just shutting your eyes” would have been the method to get to sleep. If it just happened that way, you can praise your parents for having established a good sleeping habit that benefitted both you and them. Consider that parents are teachers of subtle hypnotherapy. Now as adults, when insomnia is disrupting your night routine, it is essential to actively make some changes. Use some new strategies that can change your insomnia into an effortless sleeping routine once again.
When I consult with my new hypnotherapy patient, I ask a few questions about their relaxation patterns. Relaxation is the platform into your comfortable night’s sleep. Your sleep needs relaxation to ease into unconsciousness. Relaxation is also an important time for your mind to solve problems. By giving your mind the opportunity to process these worries earlier in the day, it allows your mind to be free to drift into sleep at night without distraction. An action-packed day filled with unfinished issues accumulates this build-up of anxiety in your mind. These worries rise up into your awareness the next time you “have” to relax. Without earlier relaxation, that moment will be when you are trying to sleep.
You’ve probably observed this phenomenon when you have day-dreamed whilst doing something menial or something that doesn’t require too much concentration (a subtle form of self-hypnosis). An example is when you do some routine administration like photocopying. Your mind detaches from the process because once it is up and running, the photocopying takes care of itself. Your mind then reviews its own priorities. There is a moment of internal focus to establish the most significant issue. This is prioritised according to your personal value system; what you want or what has the biggest (emotional) consequence if left undone.
If you have restful sleep, then you have probably developed a (now unconscious) process to release your anxieties through your dreams. It’s as if your “dream director” is activated to resolve these issues for you. You make “therapeutic dream movies” that ease your negative emotions. You wake up feeling refreshed and your problems have been dealt with (in your mind at least). This is something that can also be achieved using hypnotherapy.
When your lifestyle is hectic, you are dependent on the “exhaustion response” to trip your “sleep switch” the moment your head hits the pillow. In the short-term, this is unavoidable. In the long-term, unresolved stress can create your nights of restlessness that cause you to keep waking up. Or you “jump up” in the early hours following an intense dream, unable to fall back to sleep. This is a regular occurrence for insomniacs. But either way, you are not in control of your night’s sleep. Stress and anxiety is ruling your sleep and waking responses. When morning arrives, the outcome is still the same; you feel shattered.
Use relaxation in your day as a way of releasing that accumulation of anxiety and physical tension. Relaxation can ease the burden off your sleep ritual, helping you to focus on your “getting” to sleep. Relaxation can be an effective way of preventing insomnia. Sleep will feel more refreshing, helping you to cope with your day’s agenda. Get involved in some new hobbies or easy-going activities as part of a new routine. Relax in the bath before bedtime or listen to some calming music. Chat to a few friends who are good listeners earlier in the day, to help process some of your anxiety. You can return the good deed at a later point. Any daytime physical activity e.g. brisk walking is a fantastic way of easing your build of physical tension. Using self-hypnosis breathing techniques would be an even more efficient method of helping your anxiety. This is something that would be integrated into a course of hypnotherapy for insomnia.
Insomnia: Resolve your anxieties with visualisation
In my hypnotherapy practice, I meet many patients suffering with insomnia or some mild sleep-related issue. When they enter a course of hypnotherapy, an insomnia patient will have attempted a number different sleep tips. Some of those sleep methods have a scientific basis; others are desperate attempts to alter the feeling of hopelessness. Insomnia has a solid association with anxiety and depression. The relationship is often two-way; those who suffer with anxiety and depression also suffer with insomnia or some sleep-related problem.
Hypnotherapy offers a number of techniques to treat insomnia. Hypnotherapy does more than just introduce a form of relaxation. If you suffer with insomnia and you want a better night’s sleep, then your mind can benefit by using visualisation to release those anxieties earlier in the day. This is one part of treating insomnia with hypnotherapy.
Relaxation is like clearing an opening for you mind; it is now free to create a schedule of activity. But worries can act as an obstacle to that process, burdening you when you want to focus on something specific. Anxieties immediately fill that void in your mind, unless you have something intense enough to think about. You are probably aware of this mind phenomenon. Consider when you are doing something routine like travelling on public transport. Important issues float up into your mind wanting to be dealt with. Even when you keep active to avoid dealing with those worries, they can worm their way in to your awareness somehow. Instead of busying yourself as a way of managing this natural process, it is far more effective to deal with your worries and then put them on your mind’s “shelf”. It doesn’t mean that these issues are complete; your mind can just feel more comfortable about them.
Resolving your anxieties is about approaching the worries from another angle e.g. try imagining yourself stepping out of your stressful situation and viewing it at a cinema screen. With this detachment (or dissociation, a common technique used in hypnotherapy), visualise yourself handling it in a more relaxed and confident way. Or if your want to be in charge of the scene, imagine you are the director changing the scene to your advantage.
“Role-modelling” can be another way of dealing with the situation from a different perspective. Do you know somebody who acts as a good example for their effective approach to problem-solving? Consider how they would react to your situation if they were placed in that same scene. After they have dealt with it, rewind the scene. Then imagine “teleporting” into their body, behaving as they would and copying their approach. Whilst “inside” them, transfer these positive resources back into you, so that you now own the resources. Replay your situation in your mind, “being” the confident person.
If some worries have been lying dormant in your mind for what seems like an eternity, then maybe the answer is to internalise emotional change. Some events can’t be ‘physically’ resolved, so amending your response to them can be your mind’s release. A long-term medical condition for example requires an emotional adjustment to the physical effect it will have on your life. In this situation, easing the problem is about embracing the desired emotion e.g. being more at peace with it. Practise visualising what this positive change would alter in your life. It can be useful hearing other (courageous) stories from those who are also in a similar situation.
Another hypnotherapy visualisation technique is to place an image of yourself on a historical “time-travelling line”. You are standing here in the “present”. To your right is your future existence and to your left is your past existence. Imagine that future situation when you have achieved this change (or when the problem has been solved). Consider the experiential world all around you: what you would see, hear, and feel etc. Contemplate what you would now believe and what you would talk about in this future situation. Aim to be realistic with this new change! An on-going medical condition won’t disappear by the morning! Your solution might be that you’re coping with your “new” situation more confidently. In other instances the chosen state could be calmness, worthiness or forgiveness. Now visualise taking a gigantic leap into that wanted state and embrace this change. Role-play some situations (in your mind) to establish how you are managing in this new existence. Then look back on your time-travelling line and evaluate the steps you took that encouraged your progress. Keep imagining it and “hold” the experience in your mind. Now slide the “future reality” into the present and embrace it as if it is yours!
Aim to practise these “day-dreams” in your daytime; so that if the anxiety presents itself when you want to go to sleep, you can discharge it with your new “solution”. These visualisations can reduce the build-up of your anxieties even if your predicament still exists in reality. How you manage a situation affects how you cope with it.
Resolving your anxieties in your daytime is an important part of treating your sleep-related issue. Sometimes the problem is ingrained and a course of hypnotherapy is required to help you deal it. With stress and anxiety, the problem and the solution both exist in your mind. When you anxieties can be dealt with in this way, your mind can be distanced from the heart of the problem. You can then focus your efforts on your developing an effective sleep ritual.
Insomnia: Treat your Insomnia by taking “sleep” to bed with you
In my hypnotherapy practice, I treat many patients who suffer with insomnia. By the time the insomnia sufferer enters their course of hypnotherapy, they have cornered themselves into a cycle of anxiety and hopelessness. The insomnia patient is desperate to break their deficient night ritual, but what really needs to be broken is their “desperation”.
A hypnotherapy treatment can be an effective way of investigating deeper aspects of dysfunctional behaviour. Hidden below the surface of your behaviour is your belief system. If you suffer with insomnia, your sleep patterns can be improved by exploring what antagonistic beliefs are keeping you awake. In my hypnotherapy consultation, I like to enquire about this issue by asking: “In your mind, what are you taking to bed with you?” The reply is usually absent. But for that brief moment, when you are considering your answer, you are scratching below the surface of your own psychological barrier to insomnia. Before you begin a course of hypnotherapy, you can help yourself by asking that same question. Give your mind some time to respond.
Your worries and physical tension need to be discharged before you can be ready to drift off to sleep. What you “think” about will generate a physical effect in your body. For each negative emotion, you set up a physical template of tension. “Think” anxiety and you’ll “create” anxiety that will keep you awake. Think relaxed thoughts and you’ll create a calm physical state that makes it easier to sleep.
If there is no medical condition that is setting up your insomnia, then using hypnotherapy to analyse your strategy for sleep would be a beneficial step. This article focuses on one important stage of treating insomnia with hypnotherapy; take your “relaxed mind” to bed with you rather than your “anxious-mind” and you will sleep more comfortably.
When you’re working extended hours with close deadlines, you can get into a ritual of taking the laptop into bed and switching it off just before you go to sleep. You can probably manage to get away with this as a temporary measure. But over a pro-longed period, you will teach your mind that exhaustion is the only “response” to get to sleep. You will then find that unfinished anxieties will cause you to wake through the night and you won’t have those tiredness responses there to guide you back to sleep.
So the objective here is to organise and preserve competent routines. But routines can be learned and “un-learned” with your changing values or changing situations. Moreover, routines don’t always change straight away. Sometimes it’s like turning the steering wheel on a huge vehicle. You want to make a quarter turn (i.e. sleep) right now, but there’s a pause before you can be naturally aligned in your new direction. It takes time to change old habits. Hypnotherapy can help you change your habit that releases your insomnia. Hypnotherapy can also accelerate the learning of your new habit to get to sleep.
Another issue with working late is that anything requiring a lot of concentration is usually stimulating for the mind. As the mind is aroused, it will release chemicals into the body, placing you on alert. So working late on a project will damage your sleep ritual. At least half an hour is required for your body to process those chemicals and calm down from that intense concentration. This means being industrious with your time so that you can arrange the next day’s work schedule much earlier, the evening before. Establish that you are not going to bed to solve problems – you are going to bed to sleep!
One (debatable) ineffective insomnia strategy is keeping essentials next to your bed. In my opinion, they merely encourage your mind to be placed on standby. Essentials can include your mobile phone and a notepad to capture those bright ideas. If you want to break your insomnia cycle, move them away from your bed! It’s not too difficult to consider how the notepad will have found its way there. In the absence of earlier relaxation, your mind will have unexpectedly found the answer to an important question during the middle of the night. You turned over and thought “I really mustn’t forget that!” In the morning you were left pondering “what was that solution?” Your frustration would have then motivated you to put the notepad next to your bed, just in case you have another “light bulb” moment. However, believe that when you have enough relaxation in your day, those “light bulb” moments will pop into your awareness several times during the day too. You are more likely to act on them, so they don’t stand out in your mind as much. Follow this and you won’t need the bedside essentials, or the reaction to be on the alert at night.
In you effort to diminish your insomnia, recognise that it takes a huge step to make your sleep and your well-being a priority. In the long-term, keeping healthy will mean fewer days absence from work anyway. Your overall insomnia strategy can involve use calming activities like reading to wind down. Relaxing in the bath is a good opportunity to practise self-hypnosis breathing techniques. Hypnotherapy suggestions from this article would be created to help your pathway into deep, more comfortable sleep. By recognising your psychological approach, you can learn how to take “sleep” to bed with you.
Insomnia: Learn self-hypnosis to help you sleep
In my hypnotherapy practice, I regularly meet patients suffering with sleep-related problems. It’s reasonable to consider that their insomnia is linked to their anxiety and physical tension. At the beginning of the hypnotherapy course, their sleep ritual is drowned by frustration. The insomnia patient is being dictated by a night of misery that obstructs their mind. As a result, they create even more tension that further submerges any efforts to get to sleep. There are numerous ways to treat this insomnia. During my hypnotherapy consultation, I teach my insomnia sufferer self-hypnosis and breathing techniques to take them out of their negative cycle and focus them in the direction of a new sleep ritual.
When a goal is constructed in a positive way, your mind is efficient at directing you towards the achievement of that goal e.g. “I want to create a deep state of calmness that will help me to sleep peacefully tonight”. However, the mind fails miserably to focus away from negatively constructed goals. Try “not” to imagine a blue sheep and your mind struggles with this concept. You think of the blue sheep and then your mind focuses on something else. As the insomnia patient who is stuck in your negative cycle, you are driving yourself to your unconscious negative goal. Your typical approach will be “I am cringing just thinking about going to bed for yet another night of restlessness!” So your mind creates an image of you lying in bed, wide awake and is very likely to achieve that negative unwanted state.
How a goal is phrased also plays a part in its outcome. For the insomnia patient (and most general anxiety patients), you are making matters worse by using “anxious” language patterns e.g. must, should, have to, got to etc. Telling yourself that you’ve just “got to get to sleep tonight” is another way of taking tension to bed with you. Understandably, when a goal is phrased using this pattern of language, it reflects the desperation of the sufferer. Despair (and any negative emotion) however, generates the common stress responses and physical tension that harms your attempts to sleep. Your mind is very sensitive to what you are instructing it to do. So the insomnia patient is setting up another frustrating night of sleeplessness without realising they are “fuelling the fire”. Want, can, will, going to etc. are confident ways of structuring your language. This will help align your mind towards your desired state.
Having recognised these adverse internal language patterns, you can then consider what methods will have the positive effect of helping you with your sleep ritual. Simply lying in your bed, waiting for your luck to turn, won’t help you control your sleep. Self-hypnosis is a technique that is comparable to other disciplines that use focused thinking e.g. meditation, yoga etc. Essentially, self-hypnosis or self-guided hypnotherapy uses three stages:
- Relaxed breathing techniques
- Muscular relaxation and
During a hypnotherapy induction, the patient’s mind is guided through a variety of visualisations that focus the patient towards their therapeutic goal. For the insomnia patient, your goal is to achieve restful sleep. The suggestions used in your consultation can be used outside the consultation to reinforce the learning process. When learning self-hypnosis, it is valuable to begin practising it in the daytime, away from the situation that draws you into your negative state. Rehearse your chosen state frequently in your mind e.g. “I want achieve a comfortable night of deep sleep”. Find a supported sitting position using a high backed chair to support the head. As you advance with each practise, begin using your self-hypnosis in your night routine to help focus you into sleep.
Firstly, when establishing your breathing techniques, focus on breathing in and out through your nose. Then focus on the expansion of the abdomen with each inhalation. By engaging the abdomen, it encourages the movement of the diaphragm muscle. This horizontal muscle that lies between your chest and abdomen connects your mind with relaxation. When you feel anxious, the diaphragm is tense. You have probably experienced the feeling of “butterflies”.
Let the abdomen inflate as if the air is filling it, rather than forcing it to expand. Then continue inhaling to inflate the chest. The whole thoracic area will feel full. Pause at the end of your inhalation and then gently exhale, allowing the stomach and chest to deflate. When exhaling, draw out each breath as if the air is being “held back”. Release the air from your nose in slow motion giving off a deep sigh. Then pause again (rather than breath hold) before the next deep breath in. Maintain this pattern as you feel calmer. Your breathing rate will gradually balance out in depth as you progress. Every now and then, take another slow deep breath.
Secondly, synchronise the relaxation of your muscles with each exhalation. Create a feeling of “heaviness” in each body part. Start with principal tension areas like the neck and shoulders, and then continue with other tension areas like the back. Imagine your body feels like concrete. Then methodically work though the rest of the body from head to toe.
These important stages can help you formulate your self-hypnosis or self-guided hypnotherapy, where you are in control of your relaxed state of mind. Relaxation is the bridge into deeper sleep and self hypnosis widens your access. In a hypnotherapy course, these stages would be discussed in detail. These stages would also be reinforced during the hypnotherapy treatment, so your mind is more receptive to the visualisation and suggestions used. As you self-hypnotise, your sleep routine will become a more natural and effective way to sleep.
Insomnia: Getting to sleep
When a medical condition is affecting your life, some of the symptoms can creep up on you. You are innocently dragged along by your predicament. Before starting a course of hypnotherapy, it is important to identify whether your insomnia has a medical cause:
- Medical conditions – Cardiovascular conditions can make it challenging to get comfortable and control your breathing when in a lying position. Similarly, joint (arthritic) conditions can be painful when lying down.
- Medication – Some prescribed drugs can have a stimulating effect on the mind.
- Eating or drinking late – Problems with heartburn and reflux can be a symptom of eating late meals within an hour of going to bed. Drinking caffeine e.g. coffee or certain fizzy drinks at night can keep you awake.
- Late and extended napping – Dozing in the evening can upset your internal body clock. It can alter your natural tiredness responses that your mind would use to help you to go to sleep.
- Exercising late at night – When you exercise late in the evening, you produce Cortisol. This also has a stimulating effect on the mind and body.
- Working/studying late or doing shift work – Anything that requires intense concentration just before going to bed can put the mind on the alert. Working shift patterns e.g. days and nights can upset your body’s natural internal clock.
- Anxiety and stress – Stress also produces the chemical Cortisol. Taking your anxieties to bed generates physical tension for your body. This makes it more difficult for your mind to use natural relaxation responses when you go to sleep.
- Frequent changes to your bedroom – Retaining an amount of familiarity helps your mind to feel secure. Repeated changes to your bedroom can agitate your mind at night. Noise from neighbours or a partner that snores in bed can distract your own sleeping habits.
When you can establish what’s creating your insomnia, you can then evaluate your motive to change it. It can seem self-explanatory that if you are working just before going to bed, then by closing the work schedule earlier, it will help your sleep. But you would deal with this straight away if that was the case. If you battle to change this, then you are being ruled by another intrinsic belief.
A cause and effect situation has become apparent. In your effort to deal with one part of your life (work for example), you have to submit to another part (sleep). You don’t want to ruin your opportunity for promotion, so you want a short-term solution that can buffer the anxiety from one part of your life to another. Hypnotherapy can provide you with an efficient technique that helps you release your work issues and get to sleep more easily.
Before having your hypnotherapy consultation, your late working schedule will have created your anxiety and physical tension. This will have explained your problem getting to sleep. Without creating some relaxation responses at bedtime, this will have exaggerated your insomnia.
These adverse routines can become deep-rooted. Your mind then dismisses why your natural sleep pattern has gone astray. Hypnotherapy can help you to associate with those original strategies and re-establish them. That way, you can still keep focused on promotion and find a way to dispense with those connected worries. Hypnotherapy creates a heightened state of awareness that makes you more open to suggestions and imagery. It can be used to assist these beneficial changes.
In your hypnotherapy induction, you are directed through the enhancement of your new sleep ritual. It is parallel to having a “sleep DVD” archived into your mind and as you play it, you relax into sleep. By having a new “inner sleep script” to guide you, your mind can release the anxiety in these work (or other issues) so that you can focus on your sleep ritual.
“Going to sleep” can be a one aspect of your insomnia. A course of hypnotherapy can help you deal with some of the more ingrained issues that can upset your sleep habits.
Insomnia: Waking up in the night
A positive sleeping habit is important for your health and general wellness. When you’re deprived of your sleep, you can experience tiredness, irritability and poor alertness. As an experienced registered hypnotherapist, I see several patients with some degree of insomnia. This can be the case even when it isn’t their main therapeutic purpose. At the beginning of a hypnotherapy course, some questions into my patient’s general lifestyle usually show that they are also having disrupted sleep patterns. Insomnia can be a symptom of anxiety and when your life is distressing; your sleep routine can be unbalanced.
There are several kinds of insomnia. Some insomnia sufferers have problems going to sleep and others have intense dreams. Nocturnal awakening is the term used to describe irregular waking through the night. It is also used to characterise early waking with the inability to return back to sleep. This article deals with nocturnal awakening and how hypnotherapy can be used to treat it.
Nocturnal awakening can be caused by a variety of ways:
- Anxiety about being awake – Having woken from your sleep, worrying about this only makes it more difficult to go back to sleep again. ‘Sleep anxiety’ can then further disrupt your insomnia.
- Anxiety and depression – Any anxieties that you battle with in bed can leak into your dreams. Anxiety produces cortisol, a chemical that places your mind and body on the high alert.
- Medical conditions – Certain medical states can interfere with your sleep at night including heart, lung and arthritic conditions. Pain awareness can make it more of an effort to go back to sleep.
- Medication – Some medication can have a stimulating affect on your mind. If you have made the recent choice to withdraw from your sleeping tablets, your body needs time to adjust to the chemical changes.
- Alcohol – Drinking alcohol at night can alter the natural cycle of your REM sleep causing you to wake up early. Once you have woken up, you don’t have the sedating influence of the alcohol to get you back to sleep (unless you drink more!)
Some degree of nocturnal awakening would be considered as reasonable. If your medical condition is behind it, then how you manage your insomnia can improve your overall lifestyle. Just recognising that your insomnia is related to the medical condition can make it easier to accept. Even if you have a long term condition, your mind can be more relaxed with it when you can establish what is causing your insomnia. Hypnotherapy can help you accomplish acceptance of your condition, even if there is still some on-going problems. Hypnotherapy can also help you create a new sleep habit so that you can focus your mind in a more positive way.
Long-term worries can accumulate and hinder your sleep patterns. When unresolved issues collect in your mind, they find their way into your sleep and generate intense dreams. In your attempts to create closure, the best that you can do is to change your emotional perspective. If you’re unable to manage those changes, hypnotherapy can help steer you towards acceptance, so that you can reduce the accumulation of physical tension. Hypnotherapy can also teach you relaxation techniques that include breathing, physical relaxation and visualisation.
When your insomnia has no identifiable cause, then how you cope with your waking is crucial to your ability to return to sleep. Frustration creates physical tension and this cycle of events will not help your return to sleep. Hypnotherapy can be used to create your internal sleep “script” so that you are channelling your mind towards a confident sleep habit. Applying practical techniques to your insomnia is far more effective than just lying there hoping for the best!
Hypnotherapy is a beneficial treatment for your insomnia. It can help you to identify and release concealed issues that your unconscious mind has connected with your insomnia. Hypnotherapy can also help you deal the way that on-going medical conditions can disrupt with your sleep. It can teach you important relaxation breathing techniques to use in your sleep ritual; a vital part of diminishing your nocturnal awakening.
Insomnia: Restless sleep
The amount of sleep you are having is often judged to be the benchmark of a good night’s sleep. During a hypnotherapy consultation, insomnia patients will mention their frustration at the time they have waste trying to get to sleep. Insomnia sufferers can have issues getting to sleep (delayed onset insomnia) and problems with nocturnal awakening (repetitive waking or waking in the early hours and then staying awake). Sleeping through until it’s time to get up, but feeling worn out, is a more obscure form of insomnia since you can easily attribute your tiredness to other problems. With restless sleep, you are vulnerable to the same symptoms; exhaustion, irritability and loss of concentration. This article focuses on restless sleep and how hypnotherapy can treat this sleep problem.
As well as feeling extremely tired by the morning, restless sleep can also involve overactive sleep patterns. You can be fidgety and talkative through your night’s sleep. You can also have vivid dreams that you “act out” in bed (which may disrupt your partner’s sleep!) These excessive states can cause you to jump up in bed feeling startled, with your heart rate pounding, your body in a sweat and you feel tense. Sometimes you sleep through the whole “anxiety show”, only to wake up feeling as if you have been running a marathon.
These nocturnal episodes can indicate that your anxiety isn’t being dealt with properly in the daytime. When you have days that are stressful, unresolved problems and ongoing issues can get suppressed in your mind’s “temporary storage folder”. If these events build up without being dispensed, the storage folder can become strained. Then the next moment your conscious mind isn’t there to contain these events, the folder ruptures spilling the contents into your awareness. So if you haven’t had some relaxation time where those issues can be released, that next time will be when you go to sleep.
Fortunately, your mind can process some of these events when you are daydreaming e.g. watching, but not really concentrating on the television. The mood of “night-dreaming” is more anarchic however. Your imagination is in charge and it likes to let off some steam!
To assist your sleeping patterns, sleep can’t just be something that you impulsively do the moment you get into bed. A good night’s sleep needs to be built into your day time. Some of the preparation includes having an amount of relaxation time where the mind can wander around, dealing with and releasing your problems. This useful process is typically achieved during routine activities like housework or recreational pursuits.
A wind-down schedule before bedtime gives you some room between your worries and the likelihood that it will drown your sleep. Give yourself some relaxing activities like lying in the bath or reading something easy-going for at least half an hour before going to bed.
When a patient begins a course of hypnotherapy, I like to ask questions about their sleeping rituals. Restless sleep can be a useful indication of your general stress levels. When the purpose of your hypnotherapy consultation is to boost the quality of your sleep, then a “restless sleep” script can be designed to alter some of your defective sleeping rituals. Suggestions can be formed to amalgamate your relaxed breathing patterns into your unconscious sleeping habit.
Hypnotherapy can also teach you relaxation breathing techniques. You can use these to enhance your strategy to sleep and release the negative reaction from your last activity before going to bed. Consider hypnotherapy as the pathway through to your unconscious or “sleep” knowledge. These hypnotherapy techniques can also be reinforced right through the day so that you are releasing your build up of anxiety. This frees your mind from having to battle with it in the night.
Hypnotherapy is an effective strategy to alter the stress and anxiety issues that create your restlessness. New techniques can help you to manage your insomnia and release the frustration from having woken up. With hypnotherapy offering so many choices for treatment, it is the most beneficial therapy to transform your restless insomnia into restful, restorative sleep once again.