stressfree consultancy

Daryl Wilkinson - Counselling Hypnotherapist and Coach

SLEEP STRATEGIES

A significant number of my clients present with insomnia. The underlying cause is usually stress in one form or another. Inevitably there is an inability to “still the mind” as they constantly replay the day’s stressful events, worry about issues and problems in their life and generally prevent themselves from drifting into sleep by unrelenting hyper activity of the mind.

Sleep is vital for our health, and mental wellbeing.

We spend a third of our life in bed. We owe it to ourselves to make our sleeping conditions and the quality of our sleep the best we possibly can.

Why is it that some sleep seems more refreshing than other sleep? The type of sleep which was described by one of my clients as a “hard sleep”,  a sleep that - when she did finally get to sleep - she found she was exhausted when she woke with hands in tight fists that had to be prized open. Hardly a relaxing sleep!

It is very important for us to prepare ourselves for sleep. Many clients have found listening to my mp3 file “Relax into Deep Sleep” to be an excellent way to prepare them for a restful and refreshing sleep. By drifting into a state of hypnotic relaxation they are able to gently and easily still the mind, let go and enjoy a stressfree sleep.

I also recommend the following strategies to assist them in their preparation:


Strategies to prepare you for better sleep


  • Maintain a regular sleep-wake pattern. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, including on the weekend. 
     
  • "Reprogram” your mind to wake up at a certain time, When in bed silently repeat to yourself on each outward breath... “I will sleep soundly right through the night and wake up fully refreshed at ........ o’clock” (repeat at least six times).
     
  • Reduce factors that might disturb you. Uncomfortable bed, too many or too few blankets or bed clothes, extremes of temperature (cool temperatures help induce sleep) external noise.
     
  • Reduce stimulants. Tea, coffee, cola, chocolate, cigarettes prevent quality deep sleep. If you are on medication check with your doctor or pharmacist for their effect on sleeping.
     
  • DON'T exercise strenuously within two to three hours of retiring. Exercising early in the day helps you sleep, but exercising too close to bed causes wakefulness.
     
  • DON'T nap during the day. Napping can interfere with night sleep.
     
  • DON'T work, write or eat in bed. Associate the bed and bedroom only with sleep (and intimacy).
     
  • DON'T go through the days events when in bed or the bed room. Set aside some time towards the end of the day if you need to review the days events (or plan tomorrow’s) and find a place other than the bedroom to do it
     
  • DON'T eat a large meal within one to two hours of going to bed. Major digestive efforts can keep you up.
     
  • DO have a light snack before bed. A little bit of food before bed can help you sleep. A drink high in carbohydrates (Ovaltine which has malt) with milk (which contains tryptophan) may help induce sleep, where as high protein foods may induce wakefulness.
     
  • DO have a hot shower or bath before bed. We tend to fall asleep as our body temperature falls.
     
  • DO adopt a bedtime ritual. Carry out a sequence of events in the same order each night. e.g. You might read for a while, then have a shower, then change into pyjamas, then brush your teeth, then lock your doors, then turn out your lights. Design your own ritual. Rituals help ease you into sleep.
     
  • Never lie in bed awake for more than 30 minutes. Get out of bed, no matter how hard this might be and do an unpleasant household chore or something that you don’t like doing. Clean out a cupboard, clean the toilet, mop the floor etc. You may have to do this for a few nights, but your mind will eventually work out that sleep is a preferable option!
     
  • Avoid shift work. If at all possible, work days (9 to 5 or a schedule close to it). Working afternoons (4 to midnight) and nights (midnight to 8) disrupt sleep. The most sleep-disrupting schedule is rotating shift work: periods of day, afternoon, and night work.