I’m a pretty lucky guy, or so I’ve been told. I fall asleep quickly and easily and stay asleep unless Matrix Chick or Fingers (my 4 and 2 year old daughters) come crawling into bed us. It’s been suggested to me that I have a clear conscience. (True!) However, in my hypnotherapy practice, many of my hypnotherapy clients tell me that they have problems sleeping even if they are not coming to me for that issue.
Included in the definition of insomnia are sleep problems involving difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or having poor quality sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than one-third of adults have insomnia at some time, while 10 to 15 percent report long-term (chronic) insomnia.
- There are many possible reaons for insomnia. Some may be due to other heath related issues, such:
- prescription medication
- acid reflux (GERD)
- Other causes of insomnia can be
- eating too late before bed
- drinking or smoking
- a change in work hours
- jet lag
Also, keep in mind that aging can cause sleep that is less deep, causing you to wake more often.
If you suffer from insomnia, then you know the toll it can exact. Irritability, anxiety, weight gain, poor immune function, poor work performance, even falling asleep while driving are some of the side effects of inadequate sleep.
So what can you do to improve your sleep? First off, many people that come to me for hypnotherapy for issues not related to insomnia report getting a very good nights sleep the night of their first session. Better sleep is a by product of being hypnotized. This means of course that hypnosis and hypnotherapy can be very effective for dealing with insomnia.
Here are some other things you might try that can get you back into the habit of deep and restful sleep.
In my experience, the most common reason that people give me for not being able to fall asleep is the inability to turn off their brain. Anyway that you can create mental relaxation can be helpful. This can be as simple as taking deep breaths before sleep or a regular practice of meditation or yoga. Working out before bed can actually stimulate you and keep you awake, so keep it slow and gentle. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, just try to be done 3-4 hours before bedtime. Writing down your thoughts in a journal can be helpful too. This can help to identify challenges in your life or things bothering you in the background of your mind that you may not even be aware of.
Be aware of dietary habits that can interfere with sleep. If I drink red wine before bed, I’ll won’t sleep as deeply. If I have coffee later than about 3:30 or 4, I’ll notice it in my quality of sleep. Sometimes a sleep diary can be helpful in identifying how your daytime diet on any particular day can create sleep disturbances. Eating to close to bedtime can challenge sleep. Again, 3 hours before is better. On the other hand, some folks have blood sugar imbalances that wake them up in the middle of the night. Some people sleep better by having a little protein before bed. By little, I mean some cheese, milk, yogurt, etc, not a huge steak.
Try to have a regular schedule for sleeping. Sleep is not only a physiological need that should be taking care of itself, but your relationship to sleep can either a good habit or bad habit. Oftentimes simply sticking to a regular sleeping schedule can result in better sleep relatively quickly. It helps to be aware of how much sleep you need. Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Be aware of associations that you are creating in your bedroom. Do you have a television in your bedroom to watch the news at night while lying in bed? Umm…try not to do that. Do you discuss heavy issues/marital challenges or financial problems with your partner while lying in bed? Go do that in another room. Paying bills in bed, or similar types of activites? Ditto. If you find you can’t sleep in 15-20 minutes, get out of bed until you feel a little drowsy again.
Create a relaxing environment in which to sleep. Make sure it feels comfortable to be in your bedroom, including mattress and pillow. Temperature, humidity, and noise level can all affect how you sleep. Insure that these work for you instead of against you. Use eye pillows, ear plugs, humidifiers or white noise generators to help.
Sleep is one of the basic requirements for life, yes? Doing what you can to make sure it is of good quality can add quality to your life. If you need help sleeping, a hypnotherapist can help.
How do you optimize your sleep?