Around 30-35% of adults suffer from insomnia at some point in their life, with 10% suffering from chronic insomnia (3 times a week for over three months). It has an effect on mood and many physiological systems to do with wellbeing, including appetite, cognitive performance, energy levels and can negatively affect work and relationships.
Many understandably turn to “sleeping” pills as a quick-fix but sometimes these can exacerbate the problem, leaving a hangover of sleepiness into the next day and sometimes become less effective over time.
Hypnotherapy tools that can help:
Relaxation. During hypnotherapy, you can learn how to relax each muscle of your body, which gives a busy mind something to focus on while allowing your body to soften and feel heavier.
Visualization. You can embed and practice good sleep hygiene habits without moving! Picturing yourself preparing for bed with a calming routine, not too much rich food, alcohol, nicotine or caffeine.
Offering suggestions to break negative thought patterns about sleep. Sometimes we can lie awake at night dwelling on how terrible insomnia is, how little sleep we are getting and how awful we will feel the next day. Being able to notice this kind of thinking and deliberately reframe the thoughts into something more positive can help stop the spiral into more tension. Examples of more positive thinking could be “ah, I know I’ll get the core amount of sleep I need to survive” or “this insomnia phase will pass naturally”, “my body will probably naturally catch up the lost sleep tomorrow night” “I trust my body to subconsciously regulate all its systems without me needing to worry or try too hard”
Uncovering deeper psychological issues. Sometimes in a trance state, you may become aware of things in your past, your personality or relationships that keep you from being able to feel deeply at ease and content, which at times affects your sleep and relaxation. Hypnotherapy can convince the subconscious mind that change is possible and desirable, but it may be best to talk these things through with an accredited therapist face-to-face to come to a long-term solution if you are stressed for a long time or if you feel like your feelings might overwhelm you.
Hypnotherapy can subconsciously suggest changes to the circadian sleep patterns which govern our sleep and wake patterns. We can embed helpful habits to assist with a healthy and robust circadian cycle by seeking out bright white daylight in the mornings and soft red light in the evening. Avoiding bright screens (or you can add a timed color filter to your devices if you like) just before bed can help.
Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do to get to a strong sleep-wake cycle is to get out of bed when you’re lying awake for more than 30 minutes and do something calm and quiet in another room. This will break the association you may have developed that your bed is a platform not for a deep restful sleep but for insomnia torture! You should only get back into bed when you’re so tired you fall straight asleep. It can be painful to get out of bed but worth it in the long run if insomnia has become a chronic problem for you. If you then also avoid naps and lie-ins and keep to regular getting up times, eventually you can trust your body to fall into a healthy rhythm.