With the end of British summer time and the clocks having gone back an hour at the weekend perhaps you are one of the one in three who suffer with some form of insomnia in the UK. If so then now could be a good time to consider a new way of addressing your sleep difficulties.
Most help for insomnia focuses on how to get to sleep and gives various strategies for improving the chances of getting off to sleep, staying asleep and getting back to sleep if you wake during the night. Many of these suggestions encourage you to do “something” but this very act of trying to get to sleep is one of the things that will stop you. If you asked a person who sleeps well for most of their lives how they do it then they will tell you that they do not do anything, sleep just happens without any trying. One of the biggest problems with insomnia is that your body gets used to not sleeping and it becomes something of a habit. This is where hypnotherapy can help as your subconscious mind is accessed whilst you are relaxed and reprogrammed. The habit of not sleeping is replaced with a habit of falling asleep, staying asleep and waking feeling refreshed in the morning. Of course every one has some episodes of disturbed sleep at some time in their lives. This is normal and can occur if you are particularly stressed or worried at any time or have had some recent trauma or loss in your life. This type of insomnia usually resolves itself reasonably quickly and your usual sleeping habits return. Persistent chronic insomnia lasts for over three nights a week and for longer than three months. Many insomniacs feel that they are locked in a battle with sleep and this in itself creates more difficulties in sleeping as the harder you try to go to sleep the more elusive it becomes.
Learning to use both mindfulness and self hypnosis can be useful. Mindfulness can be used to simply accept the present moment instead of fighting with sleep, learning to observe and accept your feelings, thoughts and yourself. Focusing on your breathing and being aware of the process of breathing is calming. Understanding that you can observe your thoughts rather than chasing them takes the emotional impact out of the thought. Anxiety and persistent negative thoughts are reduced, leading to an increased sense of calm and ease.
For self hypnosis you could spend some time imaging you are at a special beach, daydream about lying in the sun or listening to the waves, or imagine a calming waterfall. Researchers at Oxford university found that by doing this insomniacs fell asleep 20 minute earlier. This may be because picturing an interesting and engaging scene takes up more brain space than simply counting sheep and is easier to stay with than some other techniques.
Recent research covering forty years of study by scientists at the University of Arizona suggests that chronic insomnia can kill you. It is linked to higher inflammation of the blood which is responsible for most chronic diseases. This study was published on line by The American Journal of Medicine. As insomnia appears to increase the risk of heart disease, dementia, diabetes and depression then it may well be a good time for you to try a different view and approach your insomnia from a new angle.