What is Insomnia
Insomnia can be a very debilitating condition, where the sufferer feels exhausted but just can’t sleep. Midnight gamers and those that enjoy burning the midnight oil may never know how difficult it can be to long for sleep that evades us.
Insomnia can strike at any time and can quickly become difficult to deal with. The more we worry about not sleeping, the more this can affect our sleep too. It can severely affect our mental health in very complex ways and is linked to feelings of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. People are at much greater risk of suffering from depression if they are not sleeping well.
Researchers asked people who slept well what they thought about before going to bed at night and they said “nothing”, whereas people who found it difficult to get to sleep replied, “everything”.
Types of Insomnia
It’s often the case that racing thoughts can keep us awake. This type of insomnia creates a restless, worrying feeling that prevents us from sleeping. We can experience anxiety and worry, often being plagued by negative thoughts.
Another type of insomnia is when we go to sleep fine but find ourselves waking up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Often we feel wide awake but know that we will be exhausted later on in the day. Nightmares can also disrupt sleep in the middle of the night, and may be a symptom of PTSD.
Insomnia can also occur when we wake up too early in the morning. Sometimes this is the case when our body clock is used to being up at a certain time for work.
Different Types of Sleep
When we sleep we go through various brainwave cycles, the slowest cycle is known as Delta. When we are in the Delta brainwave cycle we are enjoying deep, dreamless sleep. During this period our heart rate and breathing slow down, our body temperature drops and changes occur that boost our immune system functioning.
We also have a period of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement). This is when we dream at night. During this period our body temperature increases again, as do blood pressure and breathing rate, to a level which is the same as when we are awake. During REM sleep we are processing information from the primitive, emotional brain and discharging it.
This is known to be very effective in helping us to reduce stress and negative thinking. It’s a period of time when our memory and learning abilities are enhanced too.
The REM cycle is extremely important. If we are experiencing enough REM sleep then we are emotionally more balanced and able to make judgements that are clear and reasonably well thought-out.
Hypnotherapy can help Insomnia
Hypnotherapy can help people enjoy better sleep patterns. It is a very relaxing therapy that uses techniques that encourage this relaxation response at a deep level.
Hypnosis was named after Hypnos – the Greek God of sleep, and although hypnosis isn’t the same as sleep it does active the REM system which is a very necessary function of our normal sleeping patterns.
When you consider that we sleep for around one third of our life, we can clearly understand how important it is to be able to enjoy good quality rest at this time.
Top Tips to Help Beat Insomnia
When medical professionals talk about encouraging sleep, they will often use the term “sleep hygiene”. This describes a kind of clean-up of sleeping habits so that sufferers have the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
It is thought that insomnia can be learned, and that we can also unlearn it too.
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours prior to bedtime.
- Also avoid alcohol and nicotine before bedtime too.
- Set regular times to go to sleep and get up. If you have had a poor night’s sleep, don’t lie-in but still get up at the regular time.
- Get plenty of exercise earlier in the day, but avoid it for the last 4 hours prior to sleeping.
- Open a window slightly in the bedroom to improve the air quality.
- Make sure you will not be too hot or too cold.
- Do things that are relaxing prior to sleeping – this might be taking a warm bath, perhaps with calming lavender oils, or a drink of warm milk, cocoa etc.
- Don’t nap during the day.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal late at night.
- Don’t use the bedroom for things other than sleeping / sexual activity.
- Blue screens, such as on televisions or mobile phones etc encourage wakefulness so don’t use them prior to sleep. They interfere with the natural circadian rhythms of the body.
- Don’t watch scary or disturbing television before sleep.
For immediate help in sleeping, why not listen to my free hypnotherapy mp3, available on YouTube?
And to the far right, there’s one for children too!