For many of us at some point in our lives we can be confronted with periods of insomnia and poor-quality sleep. Some of us wake bolt upright in a cold sweat in the middle of the night leaving us tired irritable and over time, if the symptoms persist, we are left feeling exhausted.
One of the main reasons for poor sleep is the impact that stress can have on our minds and bodies. If we understand that our bodies respond to the signals we send out from our minds, we can start to see that the way we are thinking can trigger the hormones of stress in bodies. Ironically sleep is a tool where we rest and regenerate and overcome our daily stresses, but if our worries start to overwhelm us then this can cause problems in two ways. Firstly, our bodies become over alert, so when it’s time to go to sleep we can’t, because we are ruminating on all our problems of the day, often unable to know where to start because they seem too many. Then if we do eventually fall asleep our mind has a problem. There is simply too much to process during our sleep, and this takes up huge amounts of energy, in fact more energy sleeping than being awake, so it bolts us upright to save energy.
The key part of our sleep where we process our anxious thoughts and issues of the day is during a time known as REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement). Here we have a fantastic natural system that processes the events of our day, and moves any emotionally charged content from our primitive fight or flight parts of our brain, to the intellectual and reasoned parts of the our brain, so we still have this memory but we have stripped out emotional part of it. Therefore, we are often told by our parents from young to sleep on something, because more often than not when we wake up the next day, we don’t feel so bothered by situations that previously seemed overwhelming.
So, REM sleep is great when we have manageable number of things to worry about, but if you were to imagine each of us carries within us a stress bucket, in which we put all our troubles. This is then emptied during our sleep during periods of REM, but if we have too much in our stress bucket, the mind has too much work to do each night, and this is where our sleep problems begin.
So how can we overcome this? Well as a hypnotherapist one of the greatest tools we have is trance. Trance is very natural and ordinary to the body; in fact, we go into a trance many times a day. Any one with children will notice times when they are learning, when naturally they will glance away and for a short period they go into a trance. This is because the mind is processing the information in the brain, and trance is how we naturally do it. Hypnotherapy comes in here because it uses the power of trance. A good hypnotherapist creates a guided trance, where the mind can focus on positive thoughts and ideas and the body goes into the deep and rest and digest state just like during REM sleep. This can improve our sleep in two ways, firstly during the hypnotherapy sessions the mind is able to start to process and empty the stress bucket and resolve many issues you are carrying around. It also offers a positive voice, so instead of the worrying primitive brain, that worries about the past, or frets about the future, you have messages of reassurance and support. If we aren’t worrying about something, we aren’t putting more anxious thoughts into our stress bucket!!!
So the more we go into trance, the more relaxed and refreshed we start to feel, and the more we empty our stress buckets, so that when we do go to sleep the mind has less to worry about, uses less energy and allows you to remain in a deeper more refreshing sleep.