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One to one help in Bristol and Bath for insomnia and difficulty sleeping.

If you find that your mind races, that you can't stop thinking or can't switch off at bedtime, then maybe hypnotherapy can help you. When a person is having trouble sleeping, and it is not caused by a medical condition, then it is usually anxiety related.  When we are overly stressed or anxious generally, then the subconscious mind moves into a hyper-vigilant mode which means that we become overly sensitive to any potential threats in the environment (real or imagined).  From an evolutionary perspective, it would have been dangerous to sleep too deeply whilst finding oneself in a potentially dangerous environment, since the belief would be that one might come under attack whilst asleep. The solution then would be to “sleep with one eye open”…to remain very vigilant even though asleep, and this manifests as light or broken sleep, early waking, or even just not being able to go to sleep. Today we respond in just the same way but the world has changed. In many ways, this response is even more troubling to us today than it would have been to our ancestors, as our modern day lives often demand that we need to be somewhere at 9am. Today's “dangers” can often be imagined, and here you have those recurrent intrusive thoughts and worries which keep one from going to sleep.  The subconscious mind which takes care of such natural functions as sleep will respond to what is real AND what is imagined (potential). All of that worry and replaying of negative scenarios (past, present or future) in the minds eye is tantamount to a real (actual) run in with a sabre tooth tiger as far as the subconscious mind is concerned. The mind and body necessarily deliver a fear response to deal with those potential threats. Sleeping with a body primed to escape or do battle, a body full of adrenaline, is next to impossible.

Some considerations you might like to also make are these simple sleep hygiene points:

If your sleep is disturbed: -

1)      Stop any mentally stimulating tasks at least one or two hours before bedtime. It takes time for your brain to slow down when it has been highly active.

2)      Don’t watch TV in bed. The brain can learn to associate the bedroom with waking activities and become reluctant to switch off at bedtime. The rule is that the bedroom is for sleeping and loving only!

3)      Use relaxation CD’s to get to sleep (you’ll have at least one of mine if we work together).

4)      Avoid caffeine! Caffeine stays in your system for 12 hours! 6 hours after you drank that double cappuccino this afternoon at 5pm you still have half the caffeine in your system. That’s enough to easily disturb sleep for some people. Coffee is not good if you’re anxious full stop.

5)      Do your best to stop thinking when you go to bed. If you know something is likely to irritate you before you go to bed, be disciplined enough to leave it for tomorrow.

6)      Definitely never go to bed angry or in the middle of a dispute.

7)      Avoid exercise less than 2 hours before bedtime. This again can leave your system “amped”.

8)      Make sure you’re doing enough in the day to finish the day a bit tired and ready to sleep!

Sleep is also the mechanism by which the anxieties of the previous day are de-aroused. That’s why we feel better when we wake up after a good nights sleep. During a good nights sleep, one moves between “REM” (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and “Slow Wave” Sleep. The REM pattern sleep is a highly active part of sleep and discharges the emotional arousal accrued in the previous day whilst Slow Wave sleep is restful and recuperative. Usually a well balanced individual will sleep approximately 25% REM sleep and 75% Slow Wave sleep. This brings about a rested body and an emotionally calm (de-aroused) mind. When we are anxious or depressed however this balance quickly becomes upset. Too much anxiety generated during the day leads the brain to try to “take it on” using the REM sleep mechanism and we then overuse our REM function which means we wake up exhausted since REM is a highly active brain state (more tiring than being awake!)  which is also physically non-recuperative. This can be experienced as an overactive dream life (nightmares etc).  Sometimes the mind will wake us up to conserve REM function which also serves to keep us “alerted” during the day which will be even more necessary if there is a subconscious recognition that we are in a “dangerous” environment.

Interrupted sleep means we begin the day more anxious and aroused than we would otherwise be. Then it’s easier to become stressed and anxious about small things, which of course results in more anxiety and thereby less sleep again. It is a catch 22. The way out of this state is to learn to relax deeply and reduce anxiety generally, thereby sending a message of “safety” back to the subconscious mind which translates as “It’s okay to sleep…you are safe now”. Then the mind can reduce the vigilance level and you’ll find your sleep pattern can return to normal again. Hypnotherapy is therefore truly unequalled as a therapy for insomnia as it addresses relaxation, general anxiety reduction, and re-programming of negative anti sleep conditioning. In any case we know that sleep, like any other automatic function will generally tend towards being naturally balanced when obstacles (such as anxiety) are removed. In other words, the more we are able to reduce your emotional arousal levels, the better your sleep will be.

For a free consultation with a view to beginning treatment call now on 0117 904 4504 or contact me.