7 Great Habits To Conquer Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most frustrating symptoms of stress or anxiety. When clients first come and see me to try to resolve their issues many of them complain about not being able to get to sleep, struggling with sleepless nights or waking in the night and not being able get back to sleep. This in turn leads them to feeling tired and fatigued during the day, more irritable, more stressed and less able to deal with life’s challenges.

In this article we’ll look at 7 habits to help you to conquer insomnia, get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.

There are lots of good reasons to tackle insomnia when it first surfaces. Poor and reduced sleep can lead to decreased work performance, poor memory, reduce focus and attention and increase the risk of injury and accidents. It can also increase the risk of medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease & diabetes and can even reduce life expectancy. It also reduces our ability to deal with our stress and anxiety and so tackling insomnia is vital to increase our resilience.

Hypnosis for insomnia

There are a number of causes of insomnia such as ill health, medication, asthma or heavy drinking, but for many clients the main reason for their lack of sleep is an inability to switch off their mind at the end of the day. Hypnotic relaxation is therefore a great solution as it teaches clients to learn how to “let go” both physically and mentally (If you are interested in trying a hypnotic relaxation session why not try the recording below).

During hypnosis we can use suggestions for feeling relaxed, heavy and comfortable and this deep relaxation engages the parasympathetic nervous system. When this happens we can reduce the tension in our body and switch off those unhelpful thoughts. Clients very often come back after their first hypnosis session and remark on how much better they are sleeping, especially if they use their hypnosis recordings towards the end of the day.

However, there are other techniques that you can put in place to improve your chances of a good night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene, as it is called, has been described as “the key to sweet dreams” and below are 7 great habits that can help you dream peacefully.

#1 – Set fixed bed times and waking times

Stick to a good routine even on weekends and holidays. Repetition helps the brain and the body’s internal clock to recognise when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Irregular sleep can play havoc with our natural rhythms. It’s also a good idea to have a regular bedtime ritual, perhaps a warm bath or reading a book.

#2 – Maintain a comfortable sleep environment

Make your bedroom a place to enjoy going to sleep in. Buy a good quality comfortable bed and make sure your sheets or duvet are a pleasure to get into. Keep the room dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature. Make sure your bedroom is tidy and dust free and keep pets out of the room at night if they are a distraction.

#3 – Avoid napping

If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep it’s going to be very tempting to try to have a nap or to crawl back into bed when you get home. The best thing to do is to stick it out for as long as you can so that when you finally get to bed you are genuinely tired.

#4 – Watch what you eat and drink before bed

A heavy meal can disrupt a good sleep as much as going to bed hungry. Try not to drink too much before bedtime either as a full bladder could mean regular trips to the toilet. Also avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine before bed as they can also affect the quality of your sleep.

#5 – Avoid watching the clock

Checking what time it is, working out how long you’ve been awake or how much sleep you’ve missed just increases your anxiety about not being asleep. It’s best to ignore the clock our cover it up.

#6 – Turn off all electronic equipment 30 minutes before going to bed

In a world where we are always connected it is very tempting to send just one more email, post one more social media message or watch one more cat video. Having laptops, tablets and mobiles switched on in the evening keeps our brains stimulated at a time when we need to be slowing down and getting ready for rest and recuperation. The blue light emitted from electronic equipment also slows down the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps us to get to sleep.

#7 – Only use the bedroom for sleep and sex

People get up to all sorts in their bedroom, from watching TV and playing video games to catching up on work or doing the ironing. Start to use your bedroom for only 2 things; sleep and sex. This behavioural change can help you to identify your bedroom as a sanctuary from the outside world, a place to rest and relax.

What are your good sleep habits? Please let me know through the comments section at the bottom of this page.

To find out more about insomnia then visit the NHS website here.

Can hypnosis improve your Wigan 10k Run?

As a hypnotherapist based in Wigan I get regular requests from clients who want to improve certain areas of their lives. For example, to feel more confident when meeting new people, help with passing exams or to feel more relaxed when speaking in public. With the 3rd Wigan 10k due on 6th Sept, I thought this was a good opportunity to look at how hypnosis can be used to improve your running performance.

Hypnosis has been used in sport for many years to improve performance, increase endurance, enhance speed and strength and correct errors. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics it is reported that the Russian team included 11 hypnotists who worked with athletes to improve mental clarity. More recently Tiger Woods has been known to use self hypnosis from the age of 13 to help him get “into the zone” and to mentally practice perfect strokes. Recent research has also outlined that hypnosis can successfully enhance self-efficacy levels and performance in sport (Barker & Jones, 2006).

So what is hypnosis and how can you use as part of your preparation for the Wigan 10k?

Many people have misconceptions about hypnosis, mainly as a result of the way it is represented on television or as a result of watching a stage hypnotist on holiday. Hypnosis is not mind control – a hypnotherapist can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. You are always in control and can open your eyes at any time.

It’s best to think of hypnosis as a skill, that you can learn, practice and get better at. Hypnosis usually involves closing your eyes and narrowing your focus of attention onto a single idea, image or feeling. It usually involves creating a relaxed state – a sense of letting go both mentally and physically. Research shows that when we focus our mind or imagination on a single idea, when we become absorbed by what we are thinking about, our critical self awareness is suspended and the positive suggestions that are made (either by a hypnotherapist or by ourselves) are more easily accepted. Most people find hypnosis a pleasant and relaxing experience but everyone’s experience is unique. While some people relax quickly, easily and deeply others enjoy a light level of comfort.

Once you’ve induced hypnosis you can then focus on whatever positive ideas you like to aid your performance. This could be in the way of direct suggestions or affirmations such as:

  • I can perform at peak, always better than before.
  • I am relaxed and focused before my run
  • I am fine-tuning my mental concentration and physical abilities.
  • My coordination improves whenever I practice
  • My lungs are getting stronger, filling my body with performance improving oxygen
  • I focus on my goals when running and this naturally softens and reduces any discomfort
  • My legs are strong and getting stronger with each run
  • Focusing on the rewards and benefits of running boosts my motivation and commitment

Alternatively you can use visualisations – imagining yourself as you want to be. For example you can visualise yourself:

  • Before the race feeling calm and relaxed conducting an effective warm up
  • During the run full of energy, being supported by the crowd and your running companions
  • At the finish line feeling so good for having achieved your time goal
  • After the run enjoying the sense of wellbeing from having completed the run
  • Focusing on the benefits of having completed the run eg the money raised, feeling fitter, healthier, more energy etc

So below is a self hypnosis process that you can follow over the coming weeks to help improve your performance. Many people prefer to make a recording of the session rather than have to remember it all. Most phones and tablets have simple recording facilities or you can download apps with more advanced features.

Self Hypnosis Session for Wigan 10k Run

  • Decide what you want to achieve with hypnosis (for example, achieving a time goal, being more comfortable during the run)
  • Write down specifically what you want to think about while hypnotised (for example, breathing calmly, staying focused on technical goals). Consider a combination of positive direct suggestions and visualisations.
  • Find a comfortable, quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 8 breaths. Breath naturally and easily and allow your body and mind to relax deeper with each breath that you take. Become aware of the sensations in your body with each breath and if you notice any tension in your body simply release it.
  • Become aware of the relaxation in your body – a feeling of warmth, comfort and heaviness
  • Deepen your relaxation by counting down slowly in your mind from 5 to 1
  • Imagine you are in your safe place. A peaceful, relaxing place. Allow yourself to enjoy being in your safe place vividly with all of your senses.
  • When you feel very peaceful and totally relaxed, begin to think about or imagine the positive suggestions and visualisations that you have developed. Make any imagery as rich and vivid as you can until you are totally immersed in it.
  • When you are happy you have covered everything you wanted to under hypnosis, slowly count yourself back to full awareness from 1 to 5. As you count up become more alert and more aware of your surroundings.

You can register for the 2016 Wigan 10k here.