How to Sleep Better
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Hypnotherapy for insomnia
If you have difficulties sleeping you don’t need to be constantly reminded on social media or in the press about how a lack of sleep affects both your physical and mental health. But you know! Tired, worn-out, irritable, cannot concentrate, anxious, these are a few of the words/thoughts insomniacs deal with daily.
You are not alone at least 1 in 10 people in the UK are also suffering from lack of sleep. You may find it hard to get to sleep, wake up in the night and cannot get back to sleep, or sleep fitfully and lightly (waking up several times in the night).
Thus, it becomes a cycle. Cannot sleep, worry about sleeping, worry prevents sleep and so it continues.
This is where cognitive behavioural therapy is helpful. Breaking the worry cycle by helping you to change your thinking around lack of sleep. Once you break the worry cycle and change how you tackle sleep issues then, over time, you will learn to shrug the worry off which may be the root of the problem.
Of course, there are many well documented and helpful tips such as:
Cutting down on caffeine. Best to keep coffee drinking to before mid-day. (don’t forget tea, chocolate and coke also contain caffeine)
Blue light – Blue light is daylight and is a signal to the brain that it’s daytime not nighttime. So please try and reduce your use of smartphones and tablets for up to 2 hours before bedtime.
Drinking alcohol – Although alcohol may send you to sleep initially it is not a deep and nourishing sleep. Reduce your quality REM (Rapid eye movement) sleep and you may well wake up dry and headachy during the night or in the morning and you may not feel refreshed. So, again a vicious cycle.
Don’t be too hungry at bedtime. Some people do better with a bedtime snack. Some recommendations are cherry juice, a handful of Brazil nuts, or a glass of milk which all contain tryptophan which helps sleep.
Your bedroom – Is your bedroom dark enough? (blackout blinds anyone!), quiet and not too hot. Best to have some ventilation and more covers, rather than a hot room with fewer covers.
Have a hot bath or shower. If you take a hot bath or shower about an hour before bed your core temperature will fall promoting sleepiness.
Relaxation – It’s so important to be relaxed at bedtime. This is why hypnotherapy works so well. Listening to calm words whilst breathing deeply and taking yourself to a beautiful place in your mind will encourage your brain to switch off. I also recommend a journal to jot down what has happened during the day (in other words putting the day to bed also). And writing down what is happening tomorrow, so you don’t need to lie there thinking about the day to come.
Smells and comfort – Lavender is a well known somnolent, try spraying some on your pillow. Maybe a camomile tea in the evening will help you relax and are your bedding and pillows comfortable. Is it time for a new mattress? Calm colours around you? Everything adds up.
The clock – Put it away in a drawer together with your mobile phone. There is no need to know what time it is. All you will do is lie there going over how much sleep you have had, how long until the morning etc., all triggering a worry cycle. Set your phone or clock alarm yes, but you will still hear in the drawer.
Keep it consistent. You need to develop a sleep pattern until you are able to sleep longer at the weekends. In the interim, it’s important to go to bed and get up at the same time every day regardless of whether it’s a weekday or the weekend. When your insomnia has taken a back seat then you may be able to change the pattern somewhat. If getting to sleep is an issue or getting back to sleep try counting backwards from 100.
Sleep and your eating/weight
Researchers have found that the less sleep you have the more likely you are to just grab some unhealthy type of food as you “cannot be bothered” as you are so tired. They also found that the less sleep you have the more likely you are to pile on the pounds, probably due to the above. Grit your teeth and try eating more healthy food. Find stuff that doesn’t need cooking such as cold meats or salads and fresh fruit (peel a banana, eat a few seedless grapes). All helping you to maintain a healthy body which your sleep will appreciate.