Hypnotherapy to improve sleep

The time has come to head to bed. It’s been a long, exhausting day. You managed to hit all your deadlines at work, you had a good chat with your daughter, following a call from the school about poor language being used on the playground and you are as prepared as you’ll ever be for the in-laws’ visit over the weekend.

Even though you’re physically and emotionally drained, sleep is elusive and will not grace you with its presence despite all your best efforts. You’ve counted sheep and you’ve gone to bed early. You even swapped your usual evening cuppa for a camomile tea and, yet, your mind is buzzing and your thoughts are jostling to be heard. 

The first thing to bear in mind is you’re not alone. According to The Sleep Charity, 40% of adults and children in the UK suffer with troubled sleep. The comfort is that there are many solutions out there, as well as different angles that you can approach this from.

The science of sleep

Sleep has been studied for centuries and, over this time, much has been learnt about it. It is an aspect of life that spans scientific, holistic and even spiritual studies and schools of thought. There are vast swathes of knowledge out there and, yet, still it is being thoroughly researched. Scientists believe there is so much more to be understood about it; the impact it has on our body, mind, livelihood and even the society we live in. It’s thought that the cost of sleep deprivation on the UK economy is in the region of £40.2 billion a year!

So, first, it might be worth knowing a little about the science behind sleep in order for you to gauge where you fit on the spectrum of a restless sleeper to a total insomniac. 

We all have a daily rhythm that is unique to us and, if we have got into poor habits, this routine can become entrenched and hard to redirect. Our circadian rhythm is like an internal clock and manages our bodily functions, taking cues from various sources such as sunlight. Ever noticed how your routine can be affected by the changing of the clocks? This is because it disrupts your natural rhythm. This is particularly noticeable in children and can take them weeks to settle after the clocks have been changed. We don’t often give enough value to something as small as redirecting an hour in our day, so imagine how disruptive anxieties, poor diet and hormones can be.

But back to science for a moment… Light from our phones and devices can create confusion for our circadian rhythm as well as stimulants such as sugar and caffeine. That late-night cuppa and biscuit (or five!) could be doing more damage to your sleep pattern than you realise. If we are in a poor rhythm, we may find that this pattern becomes habitual and waking at 3am becomes something you anticipate and are not surprised by. The anger, frustration and sense of desperation can become overwhelming in these situations and this additional stress is never helpful in settling ourselves back to sleep.

So, how can we break this pattern? How can we reset our natural rhythm, and how can hypnotherapy help? Well, the best place to start is to identify why you aren’t sleeping. You may not think you’re worried about anything, but it is worth really pondering this to check there is nothing lurking deep down below. An underlying concern such as earning enough to keep the family afloat may be a constant worry that is skulking in the shadows.

You may be projecting concerns into the future. Intangibles that are not within your control or it may be something you can act upon. Understanding what is keeping us awake is key to getting a better night’s sleep.

When lying wide awake at 2am, you have three options:

Option 1: Ignore it (we don’t recommend this one)

Nothing will improve, and you will just get more tired. It’s never a good outcome and not one that helps us make progress.

Option 2: Deal with it at that moment

If you know something can be done there and then that will ease the anxiety, such as paying a bill, then get up and do it. Understand what it is that will help and just do that – aim not to get distracted by 10 other jobs but if doing something will help quieten that anxiety then there is nothing more settling than dealing with it.

Equally, it may be that you need to settle your mind. Getting up and doing something relaxing is far more helpful than lying awake and feeling irritated. This would be an ideal opportunity to listen to a therapeutic recording, such as one done by a hypnotherapist. 

Option 3: Get help

If you know something is too big for you to simply get up and tick off, then please seek the support of a loved one and/or a professional. Sharing our concerns with a spouse or friend can be really uplifting, however, we do not wish them to take on our worry and have to ‘fix’ it. Discussing your concerns can explain your mood, elevate some of the responsibility and, often, is the first step in acknowledging something isn’t quite right.

A professional can support the bigger picture. It may be that you need to speak with your doctor. If you are in pain this is certainly the best place to start but, beyond that, a hypnotherapist or counsellor can be excellent supporters in addressing your concerns and laying them to rest.

Following a session of hypnotherapy, clients often comment on how easy it is for them to sleep. A hypnotherapist is trained to relax you. It is an integral part of the work they do for you to be in a peaceful place emotionally, physically and mentally. The methods behind hypnotherapy rely on your brain being able to quieten and focus on the words the therapist is saying. It is often a deeply relaxing and serene experience and one that can be replicated through self-hypnosis when you are suffering a sleepless night.

Identifying what is keeping you awake can be tricky but, if it is linked to worry, fear or pain in any way, a hypnotherapist is certainly a good person to turn to. They have a range of strategies that can support you in unpicking what needs to resolve and easing the intensity of whatever may be keeping you awake.

5 sleep strategies for a restful night

  • Avoid screen time before bed or use ‘night mode’. 
  • Sidestep caffeine after midday.
  • Process your thoughts by either making lists or keeping a journal.
  • Think of positives. Encouraging a positive frame of mind can have a huge impact so as you’re easing into bed. Focus on things that went well in the day or that you are grateful for.
  • Take time to relax before sleep. Run a bath, read a good book, do some yoga or listen to some hypnotherapy. A peaceful state of mind can make all the difference when trying to settle into a good night’s sleep.

For more sleep tips, read 5 tips to help you sleep by hypnotherapist Ros Knowles on Happiful, or listen to Fiona Lamb discussing hypnotherapy for sleep on our podcast, I am. I have.

If you’re ready to try hypnotherapy, you can connect with a hypnotherapist working online or near you right now. Simply browse profiles until you find someone you resonate with, then send them an email.

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Written by Jessica Chapman

Jessica Chapman is a therapist and teacher with a passion for the outdoors and being creative. She enjoys assisting others in making positive changes to their lives alongside working on her own aspirations.

Written by Jessica Chapman

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