Studies show that getting a sufficient amount of restful sleep is difficult for people. Stress is one reason for that. It makes sense, then, that people experiencing illness and the stress related to it are likely to have difficulties with sleeping. There are many kinds of sleep difficulties and disorders. From the inability to fall asleep to the inability to stay asleep, to sleepwalking to narcolepsy to sleep apnea (abruptly stopping breathing while sleeping) to bed wetting, whatever the type of problem, the result is exhaustion and a decreased ability to function while awake. Of course, mood is affected as well. As we now know, general health and well-being is largely contingent upon getting enough and the right kind of sleep. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep is also related to cardiovascular disease. That makes sense, as sleep deficit is stressful, and stress is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Sleep deficit also leads to increased inflammation, which is another risk factor for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other diseases. Problems with sleep are even linked to obesity (Patel & Hu, 2008), and both long- and short-sleep duration have been linked to type 2 diabetes (Yaggi, Araujo & McKinlay, 2006). The irony about anxiety and sleep is that you need to control your anxiety in order to sleep well, but that often creates another level of anxiety – anxiety over the anxiety that might be preventing you from sleeping well. The more you think about how you might not sleep, the less you’ll probably sleep. And the anxiety that you create about lack of sleep will trigger the release of adrenaline, leaving you wide-awake. Clearly, relaxation is the key. If your body and mind aren’t relaxed, restful sleep will not come. If your mind is racing with thoughts of the day, you just had and the one that is to come, not to mention every day before and after these two days, sleep will not come. If you’re thinking about every big, bad thing that might happen, perseverating over minutiae, or replaying conversations over and over in your head, sleep will not come.
Now, some people have a physical problem that is preventing them from sleeping or staying asleep or breathing properly when they sleep. I always recommend asking your doctor if there could be anything standing in the way of you and restful sleep. Keep in mind, though, that your doctor might not be current on just how effective hypnosis can be for treating sleep disorders of all kinds, including sleep apnea. There has been research attesting to the benefits of hypnotherapy for resolving sleep disturbances (Graci & Hardie, 2005), and I encourage everyone suffering the damaging effects of exhaustion due to lack of restful sleep to experience hypnosis for three weeks, as described at the end of this chapter. I’ve seen self-hypnosis work over and over again for more than a decade
GET SOME SLEEP!
What I’ve learned in my practice is that insomnia can actually be a habit that a person has created and where there’s one habit, it can be replaced with a different one. Below I’ve listed all of the ways you can help create an environment for optimal sleep on the conscious level, when I’m working with someone on the subconscious level, we discuss whatever might be keeping them awake in their sleeping environment – loud sounds, strong smells, or the temperature in the room. I then use those seemingly negative things to help the person go deeper and deeper into a restful sleep. For example, for my clients living in large cities like Manhattan, when I hypnotize them, I tell them that each time they hear sirens, trucks, taxis, and people hollering, they relax even more. I do the same thing with people living near railroad tracks. They become programmed to relax each time they begin to hear the train approaching. No matter what lights or sounds surround you when you sleep, you can use them to improve your sleep.
CONSCIOUS LEVEL TIPS FOR OPTIMAL SLEEP
Here are some basic tips that everyone can benefit from when it comes to creating the best conditions and environment for optimal sleep.
~ Stick to a sleep schedule. Schedules are important for your circadian rhythm. Go to bed the same time each evening, including weekends, and wake at the same time each day. This helps your mind and body to anticipate the rest and gear down for it regularly, so sleep has a better chance of becoming a habit.
~ Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room. Sunlight on your face during the day is advantageous (and we’re not talking about tanning), but at night, the darker your room is, the better. As for noise, if outside noise is impossible to eliminate, use some kind of white noise or even earplugs. And when it comes to room temperature, 65 degrees is the optimal temperature.
~ Use naps judiciously. Napping during the day to make up for lost sleep can be a good idea if the nap is before 3pm and for under an hour. But more than that, or later than that, can throw off the sleep schedule you’re trying to establish and create the conditions for insomnia.
~ Gear down before bedtime. The hour or two prior to bedtime isn’t the time for an intense workout, an intense family discussion or a huge meal. Gearing down means respecting the transition to bedtime and downshifting your activities, your discussions, and the energy you expend. Make it easy to be completely relaxed by bedtime. Not exhausted mentally and physically, but relaxed.
~ Limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Caffeinated beverages are for the morning hours and maybe into lunch. And though drinking alcohol in the evening usually makes you feel sleepy, you’re more likely to not sleep well, get up once or twice, and wake up feeling less rested. Alcohol messes with your sleep architecture in general, and though you might enjoy it, if you’re having difficulty getting a good night’s rest, eliminating alcohol is wise. As for nicotine, I only mention it to remind you that it’s a stimulant and will interfere with your sleep. I don’t recommend anyone use nicotine, ever.
~ Exercise regularly. Brisk, daily activity for 30 minutes is good for your body and helps you sleep more deeply. It also makes you more physically tired by the end of the day, which will help you relax, and relaxation leads to sleep.
~ Give your brain a rest. Part of downshifting is clearing your head of the thoughts of the day, the worries about tomorrow, and even the brainstorming about how to solve problems. If your brain is anything like mine, that’s a difficult request. Meditation helps the busy mind tremendously, as does self-hypnosis, which promotes relaxation and de-stressing.
Laura King CHt, NLP, Life Coach has been helping people heal their minds and bodies for 25 years. Using her unique combination of Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Life Coaching, Laura is able to help individuals with even the most difficult of issues to create positive and lasting change. Laura’s technique helps individuals at all levels of development to improve their quality of life. She facilitates the healing process by removing the unique obstacles that prevent the mind and body from working together to create positive outcomes, regardless of the stage of life, or the age, health, or wealth of the individual.
Laura is sought after by Olympians, leading edge CEO’s, public figures, professional athletes, prominent physicians, award-winning trainers, and parents. She has appeared on the Rachel Ray Show and has been a guest on local television and radio shows across the country. Through these appearances and working with clients, Laura teaches individuals how to utilize their minds to make lasting changes in both their performance and lives. In her book, The Power to Win, King explains how the use of hypnosis and NLP can easily help anyone conquer fear, build confidence and obtain unprecedented success.
Laura has also helped many chronically and terminally ill people experience less or no pain, and dramatically reduced anxiety and distress in their daily lives. Her work with hypnotherapy and NLP has also helped medical patients with pre-op anxiety and post-op recovery. By unlocking her clients’ subconscious
minds and altering how they view the operation, they are able to change what they will allow to occur before, during and after the procedure. With Certifications in Pain Management, Hypno-oncology and Stress Reduction she is using her skills to help people during their time of need.
Laura has also authored and published several books and workbooks and written and recorded over 150 CDs covering topics such as stress management, peak performance, public speaking, overcoming illness and much more. She has been a featured columnist and contributor to several magazines as well. In an effort to reach a broader audience and help even more people, Laura wrote her latest book series called Perfect Enough. Through Perfect Enough Laura helps her readers realize that we are all “perfect enough” exactly where we stand today. Her premise is that until you can accept where you are in the moment, you are not truly ready to move on and make the changes you desire.
Perfect Enough and the companion books walk you through the process, helping you to evaluate your perceptions and experiences around the vital areas of your life. The next step teaches you to access your powerful subconscious mind to produce these desired permanent changes using self-hypnosis and NLP. When used with the companion CD series, Perfect Enough serves as your “virtual life coach” to walk you through the process of positive personal growth.
Laura King is director and founder of Summit Dynamics, LCC and is a certified hypnotist and certified sport hypnotist. A student of human excellence and positive behavior modification for over 25 years, Laura was trained at the Omni Hypnosis Training Center and the Don Mottin Sports Hypnosis Training Center and received her NLP training from Dr. William Horton. She also spent over two decades studying with her mentor, Dorothy Gates, Ph.D., internationally recognized authority on child and adult development. Laura stays on the cutting edge of positive behavior modification through research and regularly attendance at Continuing Education Courses in the field of
Hypnosis and NLP.