Written by Tania Taylor
It is more than likely that all of us will have trouble sleeping at some point in our lives. This blog is all about how to improve our sleep hygiene and get some ZZZs so that bedtime is one less stress we have to worry about. We all know that a good night’s sleep can make us feel on top of the world, so let’s look at how we can make a good night’s sleep be the norm for us.
1) maybe you can consider a time when sleep came more easily to you. You might want to think about what was different then, what was good about that sleep, and how did it change your day-to-day behaviour? Are there any behaviours or actions you can replicate in the future?
2) a healthy sleep routine before bedtime can help your body get into a regular pattern of knowing when it is time to start winding down. If we use electronic devices before bed, the natural melatonin our body produces may be blocked, so our body doesn’t think it is bedtime yet and getting to sleep can be a real challenge. You may want to minimise drinks and exercise before bed too because these can cause disruptions to our sleep. Consider now, what your 1-2 hours before bedtime routine could involve.
3) having a regular set time for getting into bed and getting out of bed helps our body to create a habit. A healthy amount of time would be from 7-8 hours, but you know what is right for you and your body.
4) when we feel anxious, frustrated, or angry, we get adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones released into our bodies. These are also given to us to help us during a fight/flight situation to give us a burst of energy and strength. Not so helpful if we are trying to sleep or if we wake during the night. You may want to consider how you would like to feel or think if you were feeling a 10/10 and you were waking in the night. How would your thoughts/feelings differ if you were on Cloud 9? What kind of thoughts help you to feel good and relax normally? Could you then try and have these particular thoughts/feelings practiced and ready to go the next time you struggled to get to sleep or wake in the night?
5) our fight/flight part of our brain is also in control of our habitual behaviours. Habits can, at first be ‘one-offs’, but, before we know it, turn into a regular pattern of behaviour for us. This part of our brain is purely focused on our survival, it isn’t connected to our intellect, so it can’t be innovative. Intellectually we know a few hours’ sleep isn’t good for us, but our fight/flight brain (also known as our limbic system) doesn’t connect with this. Instead it assesses that we are alive today and so examines what behaviours we used yesterday, last week etc, and encourages us to use the same behaviour patterns again. Why? Because it knows those previous behaviour patterns kept us alive because we woke up again today to face another day.
6) we often focus on the problem. When I speak to people and ask how I can help, the first time we see each other, we often hear phrases such as ‘I don’t want to do...’ or ‘I want to stop doing...’. When we focus on what we don’t want, we are still telling our brain to focus on the very thing we don’t want. So, what helps our brain is to instead focus on what we might like to happen in an ideal situation. Focusing on for example; getting xx hours of sleep, instead of x hours – small, achievable steps. Giving our brain a destination or goal, enables us to identify ways of getting to that point. Think about a sat nav, with no destination it cannot tell us which direction to go in. Achievable goals are very important, we don’t want you to ever set yourself up to fail, because that is counterproductive. If we tell ourselves we will still wake up at x time, or we will still only get x hours of sleep, we are reinforcing that behaviour to our fight/flight brain and reinforcing that habit.
7) using hypnotherapy tracks to help you get into a deep state of relaxation to encourage and enable a better-quality sleep is what all of my clients who come to me with Insomnia will use.
Using it as part of your healthy sleep routine can have you falling asleep, and staying asleep, in as little as a week. For some people it can take longer, usually because there are some other things they have to work through first that are causing them stress.
I have a several free tracks on YouTube (no ads, I don’t get paid for you to listen to them) that I have made especially for people who are struggling with Insomnia, sleep difficulties, anxiety, stress, frustration, pain and anger.
It is always best to find one that you like and stick to the same one (to help create that habitual behaviour our fight/flight brain loves so much).
Here’s a link to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCos7z3Tc87AQoEIsAMwXxqg. It doesn’t have to be mine that you listen to though, YouTube has an array of hypnotherapy tracks you can choose from. Please do ensure that you check the content is what you would like to listen to beforehand, and please ensure you’re listening in a safe place where you won’t come to any harm should you fall asleep.
I really hope you found these tips useful. Sticking to them for a good 2-3 weeks, every night without fail is how you will get the most benefit. A little like if you broke your leg and had exercises to do every day so you could walk again. You would do them, as you really want to be able to walk again and the physio told you how the more you do them, the sooner your recovery would take place. We often place more attention on our physical health and neglect taking care of our brains. So, treat this as you would a physical health recovery, do your exercises that you choose for yourself and stick to your healthy sleep routine etc) and you will reap the rewards.
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Written by Tania Taylor