To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
My son, currently living abroad, is a great fan of Freakonomics Radio (http://freakonomics.com/) and I have started listening when I have the chance. A couple of very interesting episodes are about the economics of sleep and how good it is for you in terms of health and productivity. It discusses how the amount of sleep we get has reduced over the decades and how it varies according to a number of factors. Socio-economic status, where you live in terms of sunrise and sunset times, your sleep environment, including what you can’t control like outside traffic, and what you can control (eg screen time as you go to sleep) all affect how much nightly rest you get.
Interesting as these episodes are (and I may have forgotten every detail) the assumption seems to be that to a large extent sleep is either a matter of choice or a given if you sort out your circumstances and environment. It is as if sleep automatically wafts in and takes over so that you can easily grab an extra 15 minutes or couple of hours at will.
But for many people this is not the case. They have the time to sleep, the will to sleep, the curtains shut, screens off, no screaming babies and yet sleep is as elusive and unpredictable as a British summer. There seem to be varied reasons for this. I have heard many of the following from my clients:
- Sleep patterns disturbed by shift work
- Sleep patterns disturbed after caring for a an elderly or ill relative
- Unsatisfying sleep due to depression
- As soon as the light goes out the mind goes on
- Inability to switch off from the worries of the day
- Can’t get to sleep at the beginning of the night
- Wake up after a couple of hours and can’t get back to sleep
- Wake up far too early
- Sleep disturbed by perceived (but often unnecessary) need to pee
- Nightmares and fear of nightmares disturbing sleep
- Intrusive thoughts
So what can you do to get a good night’s sleep? The first priority is to learn to relax. Even if sleep still evades you, lying with your body relaxed is much more restful than tossing and turning. There are many relaxation recordings available on the internet but what I do with my clients is listen to what they have to say about their particular sleep issues then create a hypnosis sleep exercise tailored to their individual experience and needs, which seems to be much more powerful than a product based on generalised assumptions about sleep problems.
If basic relaxation techniques do not seem to improve things then it is worth looking into some dynamic hypnotherapy which aims to help the mind let go of old out-dated patterns, sideline the worries of the day, turn down unnecessary signals from the bladder and address any other issues which seem to get in the way of a good night’s sleep. Your mind can also help you bring forward positive resources to aid sleep such as helping you create the sensation of being somewhere so restful and relaxing that sleep is just inevitable….