The God of Sleep: Hypnotherapy for Insomnia
I always found it fascinating that “Hypnosis” is named after the Greek God of Sleep (Hypnos).
How often have you suffered from not getting enough sleep?
If you could learn new ways to help you have a consistently good night’s sleep, wouldn’t that be helpful?
Let’s take a brief journey back in time:
Whilst it has existed in one form or another for a couple of thousand years, James Braid, an early researcher, coined the term “monoidealism” to highlight that were actually conscious during hypnosis (although it can be used to help induce a sleep trance – which you’re about to discover). In some ways, “monoideaism” (fixation on one idea) is actually a more accurate name (if not as “catchy”). Hypnosis is therefore a state of focused attention where you are focused on one thing or some things to the exclusion of all else.
Many researchers and theoreticians say that the state of trance happens all the time all day long of each of us.
Consider these everyday scenarios:
You are driving along to your destination and have no recollection of the journey, but you did it safely anyway (‘Highway Hypnosis’).
You are reading a book or watching TV and you don’t hear yourself being called from another room (‘concentration trance’).
The interesting thing is that it was originally assumed that people are asleep in trance (they are not). So they called it hypnosis after the Greek God of sleep, and the name stuck.
Many of my colleagues see hypnosis as being able to get people to “do things”. I don’t; I see it as much more organic and all-encompassing natural part of our lives. I see it as a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs in a variety and continuum of choices. Once you identify the trance states you enter at different points in the day, this is a pretty cool way to change your life. You use whatever trance you are in, and use it to you to move towards you want to go.
However, trance and hypnosis is VERY useful for improving the quality of your sleep. But it’s not the full picture.
A few days ago, I watched “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” on BBC2. It raised some interesting questions but didn’t go far enough in some regards; it showed CPR but missed some important steps; for example, Check for danger, talk loudly to the person, asking questions to test their responsiveness and see if they can communicate (Are they asleep or drunk etc.); they also advised not to do CPR if you could hear any breathing, and not to do anything if they appeared to be breathing. (Hint: if you find someone lying in a heap, it is probably worth checking on them because at the very least they have made a bad decision or two and may need help; at the same time, your safety is paramount).
The programme did make some interesting points though: they looked at a small group of about 7 volunteers who were put on a regimen of six and a half hours sleep a night. After a week, they were tested for responses in a barrage of test times; they also recorded their emotional states. Crucially, blood tests were taken to give one objective measure.
Many participants reported being more short or cranky than normal because of the reduced sleep (One participant, a student, was used to having nine hours sleep, on average).
The following week, the participants had seven and a half hours sleep per night. At the end, the same tests and data were taken and then compared against week 1.
What happened was truly astonishing:
Apart from feeling happier and performing better on a range of tests, the subjects’ blood tests showed that “500 different genes” were affected by the extra sleep.
In other words, 500 genes either became active or less active because of the sleep deprivation. Some of these genes were linked to diabetes. Others were linked to heart disease.
In other words, having one extra hour’s sleep was enough to ensure that the group felt better, performed better and were healthier. The data sample is too small to generalise and there were few details of the methodology, so we need to be careful to generalise. However, this pointed to the importance of sleep, something that people often skip on in to try and fit more things in.
If you have ever been severely sleep deprived, you will know how it impacts your physical health and state of mind. After having worked with lots of clients to overcome insomnia, I am convinced there is a clear link to depression and poor judgment. The good news is that overcoming insomnia or improving sleep quality works wonders in every areas of your life – almost at once: better relationships, clearer thinking, more optimism and an improved outlook. That’s for starters.
6 Factors for a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is one of those things that, having a baby or young children aside, you have a lot of control over. The program suggested that it was important to get at least 7 and a half hours sleep, not how you would achieve that. So I want to give some concrete suggestions (and I’ll give you my step by step protocol in a minute too):
- Hypnosis is not the same as sleep, but the relaxed state is a beautiful avenue for going into trance. My recording “You Can Banish Insomnia” was designed for this. But you can use my “Stop Feeling Anxious” recording (Get a free hypnosis recording right now). to achieve that too. I teach all my clients self-hypnosis because it helps them settle down quickly, quieten their mind and sleep well
- Context: the number one thing you need to do to sleep well is prepare properly. Stop watching TV and being on the computer at least an hour before you go to bed. That may be harder than you think. Week days that means you will be shutting off the TV at 9, and reading/heading to bed for ten if you want to stand a chance of getting enough quality sleep.
- It has to be enough of a priority that you manage you time well, and prioritise sleep. If you try to fit in twenty hobbies a week and evenings out, you will end up tired, and you will end up stressed.
- Be realistic. You have a baby = Your sleep will suffer. But you can plan around it, taking naps when you can. I generally take a 20 minute nap with a hypnosis recording early afternoon. That can work wonders to destress.
- Hypnosis for insomnia works really well when you combine it with a sensible diet: no more teas and coffees after lunchtime for example. Avoiding too many sugary drinks. Cut them out if possible, especially later in the day. The sugar / caffeine can cause a variety of problems.
- One important thing is to make sure you sleep through the night. If you are experiencing interruptions, you need to work out what is going on. If you do not sleep through the 1 AM typical REM phase, you will not feel as rested, and your mind will not be able to properly integrate your emotions form the day and transform them into learnings and memories (this is important for good mental health).
The bottom line is that the quality of sleep will have a huge impact on your life. If you have that balance right, great. If you have been anxious, stressed or just want to find a way to boost your productivity, then you have a bit of a paradox: Sleeping your way to success.
A 2010 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed evidence that dieters who got less sleep lost significantly less fat. One reason is that a hormone ghrelin was produced in larger quantities as a result of being tired. This hormone triggers appetite. Penne, one of the researchers, said, “Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects.” Studies also show that weight loss can aid sleep.
I’m a big believer in getting adequate sleep, having seen first-hand the affect a good night’s sleep has on my clients’ outlook – and the affect it had on me being a parent with a baby. One interesting phenomenon is that if your sleep is consistently disturbed, then you do not get enough REM sleep. This is the time when your body processes emotions form the day. If it does not get processed during a 24 hour time period, it means events do not get processed, which means that memory traces are not laid down (so you will have ‘blanks’ for those times). In other words, everything becomes a blur and you don’t really remember anything. That was my experience when my son was little and we were up many times each night.
Hypnotherapy helps you improve your sleep by helping clear your mind, get your focus internally and gain control of your breathing. You can do this at bedtime, and also use visualisation in trace to help you properly prepare for bedtime. Hypnosis helps banish insomnia. You sleep quality determines your happiness and success in large part. Sleep deprivation is harmful for you and your relationships.
7-Step Hypnotic Sleep Protocol
Here’s the 7-Step Hypnotic Sleep Protocol my clients find helpful:
- Determine in writing the main obstacles you perceive to getting a good night sleep, especially the environmental factors. Write these down. Don’t keep them in mind: temperature, sounds, noises, a restless bed partner, worries about work. Get it all down.
- Write down why it is important to get this sorted, so you have motivation to follow through on changing habits.
- Create the best environment you can. Make sure that your room is dark, as quiet as needs be, and that your pillow works for you. Adjust temperature so that it is comfortable for you. Take time to create the ideal context. A new duvet? Comfortable pillows? A new bed? Turning the mattress over so it is better for your back?
- Talk to your partner. If they snore or toss and turn like a madman, then talk to them when you are both at ease and relaxed. Explain that your sleep is suffering, that no one is to blame and that you need their support to sleep well because it is affecting your life.
- Look out for dietary problems. Cut out any form of caffeine (including Coke etc.) after 1 PM each day. Limit sugar and monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the evenings, as these can trigger an overactive mind an even auditory hallucinations (in the case of MSG – that means limiting some forms of takeaway food).
- Set a schedule that allows you to go bed an hour earlier.
- Learn self-hypnosis with a qualified hypnotherapist so you can relax, clear your mind and settle down.
One bonus: A study looked at what was the most effective form of relaxation, even higher than taking a walk or a cup of coffee. Reading a book scored highest (they did not test hypnosis in this study and we should take this ‘research’ with a pinch of salt, as it was funded by Galaxy Chocolate to promote a book giveaway! However, no doubt that reading is a good trance to switch off to.). So, turn off the TV earlier, and pick a book to read, something that you can drift off to and lose yourself in. If you combine it with a 5 minutes of self-hypnosis, you’ll find it much easier to drift off into a comfortable night’s sleep.
Hypnosis can make your life easier. I use it at bedtime to quieten my mind, and sink down into a good night’s sleep. So can you. Sleep is an essential factor for your happiness and success and one that – in our fast-paced society – can often be overlooked. If you are finding yourself cranky, confused, depressed or anxious, there are many things to look at; I would start with sleep quality and take a good look at doing what you need to make it work for you.Google+