Training your mind and body to sleep
Start with your mind: Most sleep problems are psychological obstacles that we put in sleep’s way. It’s helpful to adopt a more relaxed and confident approach to sleep. The more you ’try’ to sleep the more difficult it is likely to be. Telling yourself that you probably won’t sleep or that you’re a ‘poor sleeper’ will reinforce to your subconscious mind that that’s the situation. Instead, set an intention and think – "I’ll enjoy the sleep I have".
If your mind is racing or you’re mulling over situations this will inhibit your sleep. So, spend some time mid-evening going through your day and your plans for tomorrow; putting things into perspective and into their ‘boxes’. Making a list can help to set your mind at rest.
The sleep environment: Your bedroom should be a quiet, relaxing place set at a comfortable temperature where your mind gets used to the fact that it’s a place for sleeping. Try not to use your bedroom as a mini office or a place where you watch television as this will have an influence on your sleep behaviour.
A darkened room is important for a good night’s sleep and gives your mind and body the message that it’s time for sleep. You should try to avoid ‘blue light’ from laptops, smartphones, etc, for a couple of hours before you go to bed
Establish a routine: Get into a routine of going to bed and getting up at a set time so that this becomes a habit. Establishing a routine just before getting into bed as will help this habit to form too and will reinforce to your mind that it’s time for sleeping.
Your body: For at least two hours before bed avoid anything that stimulates your system such as caffeine, chocolate or hard to digest foods - they will make it more difficult for you to sleep. However, a small snack consisting of carbohydrates just before going to bed will increase your level of the hormone, serotonin, which aids sleep.
Doing some sort of exercise (especially outdoors) for thirty minutes during the day will help you to sleep on the night, but you should avoid doing a strenuous exercise routine just before going to bed.
A breathing exercise to help you to get to sleep:
- Exhale with your mouth open whilst making a sound like grunting or groaning.
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of six.
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
- Repeat this breathing exercise a minimum of six times.
It’s about quality not quantity! So, finally, try not to get hung up about the amount of sleep you get. A shorter sleep often means a better quality sleep.
Hypnotherapy can be an excellent solution, helping you to use your subconscious mind to overcome your sleep difficulties.