How do we get to sleep? If you are a good sleeper you really don’t even have to think about that question. As soon as your head hits the pillow you will take a nice comfortable breath, your eyes will close and you will be fast asleep for eight hours or so with no problem.
However the rest of us will be thinking, tossing and turning and staring into the darkness wondering just what the simple trick can be that everyone else seems to know that we don’t.
The answer is that generally there is no simple trick. However with a little patience there is plenty we can do to help find that magic place of night time rest.
Now if you have exhausted all the practical (and important) tips about getting a better mattress, the right pillows for your sleeping style, blackout curtains, ear plugs, etc where do you go next?
So here are a few more things you can do to help in your search for a good night’s sleep.
I recently had a client in who was understandably getting really angry with the whole situation but obviously this was just compounding the situation. The last thing we want to do is be in a state of high anxiety and the first thing we need to do is find ways to quieten and distract the mind. If you are one for berating yourself and everything to do with this problem all night, then you will never allow your mind and body to get into the relaxed state you need to be in so that you can get a night’s rest.
In these instances look for things that will help you relax such as listen to some gentle sleep music, or use the meditation breathing method of bringing your awareness to your breath as you focus on the cool air entering and the warm air being exhaled through your nostrils. If you even just try that now you will be surprised how with as little as two or three breaths there is a subtle relaxation in your awareness and a quietening of the mind.
Another thing to do is focus your awareness on perhaps your left hand and arm and notice how heavy they actually are. Then see if, in your mind you can make them even heavier. Go around the body, the other arm, each leg, your head and quietly play with that feeling in your imagination and physically.
If you are not into yoga or familiar with abdominal breathing research it on youtube then practise in bed just being aware of the gentle rise and fall of the abdomen with each breath. I would avaoid deep breathing and concentrate on very light breathing. After all when we are sitting quietly we only need just over a cup’s worth of breath each time we breath. See how quiet and small you can comfortably make your breathing.
All of these strategies are designed to gently quieten the body and mind and prepare us for relaxation and sleep.
Some would say the difference between hypnosis and sleep is that in hypnosis the body goes to sleep but the mind is (on another level) still alert and when we sleep mind and body both relax to a similar extent. Hypnosis is a great way to learn how to quieten the mind.
In my experience to change any long standing bad sleeping pattern one has to be prepared to allow as much time as the body and mind need to change the old ingrained habits. Also with this patience comes awareness of the subtle changes. If you have been waking up at 3am to find yourself waking at 4am that actually signals to you a positive change is happening and each subtle change is another step forward. Then you know you are making “the difference that makes the difference.” It is not unusual for a client to turn things around in one or two sessions and my aim is to give them the tools that will help them continue the changes they are looking for in the long term.