Training your mind for better sleep: the Inner Game for Good Sleep
Sleep problems and fatigue are the most common complaint, affecting over one quarter of all adults. Now, before we look any deeper, it’s fair to say that most of these problems can be helped by making fairly simple practical changes in your environment, lifestyle and routines. See for example my short blog post 9 Solid Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep. In case you’re in a hurry, at the bottom of this post I’m also giving you access to two free Hypnosis Audios to help with improved sleep and overcoming insomnia using hypnosis.
If you tried those changes, and still have problems, then perhaps it’s time to explore your mental approach. (Assuming you are not suffering from a diagnosed physical or mental health problem, or adversely affected by medication, drug or alcohol.) For example, are there things on your mind that are bothering you? Some of these things you may have tried to ignore or put out of your mind; but the truth is, they are still there. This inner game for a good night’s sleep is very well suited to treatment with hypnotherapy and NLP.
Remember, good sleep cannot be forced! You can’t bully yourself into sleep. Good sleepers go to bed because they are tired and need to rest; they fall asleep. Bad sleepers TRY to sleep. Even good sleep has moments of almost being awake. Bad sleepers get disturbed by this.
The bottom line is, bad sleepers are focussing on the wrong things, and that’s what they get. Undoing these patterns is the key. In other words, give yourself permission to rest and learn to relax. Of course, many of us have busy and stressful lives, but even so, the key is in the mind and how you use it and train it. And since you have ruled out anything medical, you can now be assured that there is nothing actually wrong with you. Somehow or other, you are keeping yourself from having a good night’s rest.
Start by paying attention to what runs through your mind. Our thoughts and self talk can become so familiar, that you pay no attention to them. But they very much affect your mood and behaviour patterns. A good idea is to start a thoughts diary. Every quarter hour, pay attention to your thoughts and note them down. Do this for a few days at least, but certainly long enough to include restless nights. Do you notice any patterns?
Negative night-time thoughts
People who keep themselves from sleeping tend to run a night-time internal monologue which tends to fall into one of three basic kinds; which are you? If you are a
- clockwatcher you might say “Oh no it’s nearly half past twelve and I can’t get to sleep. I’ll not get enough rest” and “Now it’s almost one o’clock – I’ll be shattered tomorrow”
- doom-monger you magnify the negatives; “Oh no I can’t sleep and I’ll feel terrible. Everything is going wrong for me. I can’t even sleep. It’s just one bad thing after another” etc.
- planner – you’ll lie there trying to solve all your problems; “I have to sort this out or I’ll be in trouble. What if I try to …or say such and such.. but he’ll say …” until your head almost explodes.
Countering negative thoughts
This is the place where hypnosis and hypnotherapy can help you sleep. Decide which kind of negative talk is most like you, and construct opposing, positive statements, or self-suggestion for your mind.
If you are a clockwatcher, then simply give yourself permission to rest for a while. Just rest. Practice muscle relaxation, by alternately tensing and relaxing each of your muscles, starting from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Or download my self-hypnosis routine for rest and relaxation. Say to yourself, “I choose to allow my body to rest. Relaxing is more important than time and I choose to let my mind relax too.”
For the doom-monger, pick out some good things that happened during the day. Perhaps you received a compliment, or did a good job, or you were asked to go out with some friends who appreciate your company. Say to yourself “some nice things happened to me today, and more nice things will happen tomorrow”, because they certainly will. It’s a bit like counting your blessings.
Planners need to learn that there is a time and place for everything. Early evening, write down all of your worries, until you can’t think of any more. Leave the list outside the bedroom. At night, repeat this self suggestion, “I choose to put away my problems at night. I will deal with them properly at a better time.”
As a last resort, get up and go into a different room, and maybe even carry out some trivial but boring chore, like sorting out a cluttered drawer (but nothing energetic).
How Hypnosis and NLP can help
Therapy using hypnosis – hypnotherapy – can help with insomnia three ways:
1. Teach you to relax, using self hypnosis to train your mind
2. Stop negative thought patterns at night
3. Treat underlying causes of stress which may be keeping you awake
4. Help recover lost REM using self hypnosis
A properly trained and experienced hypnotherapist will assess your particular case and propose a treatment programme designed for you. In my case, I carry out that assessment in the first one-hour session, and we go from there. Get my two free Hypnosis Audios to help with Sleep:
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