Better Sleep – Part 1

?????nAs a clinical hypnotherapist, one of the first things you learn is the value of a good night’s sleep. The value of sleeping, and indeed dreaming, can never be overstated. While we sleep, we repair the damage of the day and dreaming is how we remove the mental and social stresses we’ve accrued while awake. Too little sleep and we wake up without finishing the repair/de-stress process, leaving more to do the following night.

The solution then seems simple, more sleep!

Sadly, more sleep is not the answer. Numerous studies have shown that getting too much sleep can be just as harmful as too little.

The key to sleep, as with a lot of good things in life, is not quantity but quality. And the way to achieve better quality sleep can be broken into three topics: preparation, environment and timing.

Now I’m a huge fan of incremental change. I think if you try to change too much too soon (without interactive guidance) you’re just temping failure. As such, for the next three weeks, we’ll be looking each of these categories individually. And this week’s topic is preparation.

Preparation

So, to start off; let’s get some small changes in your life that’ll make a big difference.

Exercise regularly can help you fall asleep. That’s not to say you should exercise before bed (because you really shouldn’t) but start adding exercise into your daily routine, Ideally in the morning or afternoon.

Improve your pre-sleep rituals. The primitive part of your brain loves nothing more than routine. So build a pre-sleep routine that works for you. You don’t want to go to bed hungry or need to get up in the night to pee, so look through the following suggestions and build a routine that works for you. Don’t be afraid to test when you do (or indeed don’t do) things. For me, any caffeine after 4 pm is a no no, but it might be 6 pm or 2 pm for you.

A little pre-sleep snack. Waking up groggy in the morning has a lot to do with your blood sugar levels. As such a little high protein/ high fat snack 30 mins before bed will help you wake up bright and alert. For me, a tee spoon of peanut butter does the trick.

No booze, fags or even a cuppa. The effect of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine on sleep can be very damaging. Ideally we’d cut them out altogether but moderation is a much more sensible strategy here.

  • Alcohol can help you get to sleep but really interferes with you sleep cycle so my advice is cut of that glass of wine before be and save to the ‘stumble-juice’ for the weekends.
  • Nicotine can actually promote sleep but only in small doses. If you do smoke, start spacing out the gap between you last fag and when you go to bed.
  • Caffeine is known, and indeed used, to fight off tiredness. As with nicotine, create some space between your last cup/can off caffeinated drink and bed. Start with having your last one at diner and go from there.

No more screens. The brightness of smartphone screens/tables/PC monitors and good old TVs can confuse your brain into thinking that it’s the middle of the day. Do remember that in nature, our sleep cycle is determined by how much light there is in our environment (more on that next week) so turn away from the screens and pick up a good book.

Meditation or hypnosis before bed. Both meditation and hypnosis can help you distress and turn down the fight or flight response, allowing for better sleep. There are numerous mediation apps available and any client of mine gets a hypnosis session on CD for this very reason.

Magnesium.For some, sleep problems can be caused by a magnesium deficiency. Try taking a 400-500mg magnesium supplement before bed.

As a final piece of advice, this time about waking…

Set a kinder alarm. The temptation for most people with sleep issues is have a loud and aggressive alarm. The fact of matter is a gentle alarm that beckons you to wakefulness, rather than demands it, will serve you far better. The purpose here is rather than interrupting your natural sleep cycle, we’re encouraging it to speed up.

That it for part one.  Good luck with your sleeping and please do have sweet dreams

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