Insomnia and learning to sleep again
What is insomnia? It is the difficulty to attain sleep (sleep onset insomnia) to stay asleep (middle of the night awakening) and waking very early. Chronic insomnia means someone has difficulty sleeping at least three nights per week, for at least three months and that lack of sleep is having a practical effect of the individual’s life situation, i.e. work or school and close personal relationships.
Prolonged insomnia can lead to impaired cognitive function, memory problems, depression and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and impaired immune response.
Over the age of 18, you require seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night. According to the Institute of Health, most people now have less than seven hours sleep due to lifestyle demands. Normally an adult will spend 50% of the night in light sleep, 30% in deep sleep and 20% in the dream state. Feeling sleep deprived and tired all the time may mean you are getting too much light sleep and not enough deep sleep and dream state.
We need the deep sleep to restore our body and the dream state to resolve the issues of the day, leading to a more stable psychological state. Without this dream time, the mental health can be seriously affected.
The causes of insomnia are varied, with stress and anxiety/worry at the top of the list, but there are influencing factors like work/caring patterns, age, hormone changes, alcohol, pain and medical conditions.
Whatever the cause, with hypnotherapy, we can work with the client’s individual situation to help create a healthy sleep pattern. Together with a hypnotherapist, you can work with relaxation techniques and distraction techniques so that the quest to sleep does not become so dominant it actually causes the alertness that leads to insomnia and very importantly you can work with “a trigger for sleep.”
The subconscious mind is waiting for a trigger to tell it that it is time to take over from the conscious mind. If the mind is whirring or agitated it will not get the signal and sometimes it can get mixed messages about when it is appropriate to sleep.
In hypnotherapy we work with giving the subconscious a trigger that it will recognise as the call to sleep, using a visualisation process that re-enforces the sleep message to the waiting subconscious mind. The therapist can also help with strategies such as developing good nocturnal routines, how to make the bedroom conducive to sleep, use self-hypnosis techniques and breathing exercises that will all help optimise sleep opportunities. Most importantly the subconscious mind is responsible whilst we sleep, it takes care of us and it wakes us up in the morning or when it feels it is necessary, so it is this we need to work with to obtain good sleep and with hypnotherapy we work with the subconscious mind.
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About Zetta Thomelin
Zetta Thomelin. Zetta has a private hypnotherapy practice in Deal, Kent and in London - Headtogether Hypnotherapy. Zetta also runs hypnotherapy practitioner and CPD courses. She is the Chair of The British Association of Therapeutic Hypnotists and a Director of the UK Confederation of Hypnotherapy Organisations.