What is Insomnia? It is the difficulty to attain sleep (sleep onset insomnia) to stay asleep(middle of the night awakening) and waking very early. The clinical definition of chronic insomnia requires someone to have difficulty sleeping at least three nights per week and to continue for at least three months and to be having a practical effect of the individual’s life situation, i.e. work or school and close personal relationships.
Prolonged insomnia can lead to impaired cognitive function, memory problems, depression and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and impaired immune response.
Over the age of 18 you require 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night. According to the Institute of health most people now have less than 7 hours sleep due to lifestyle demands. Normally an adult will spend 50% of the night in light sleep, 30% in deep sleep and 20% in the dream state. Feeling sleep deprived and tired all the time may mean you are getting too much light sleep and not enough deep sleep and dream state. We need the deep sleep to restore our body and the dream state to resolve the issues of the day, leading to a more stable psychological state. Without this dream-time the mental health can be seriously affected.
The causes of insomnia are varied, with stress and anxiety/worry at the top of the list, but there are influencing factors like work/caring patterns, age, hormone changes, alcohol, pain and medical conditions.
Whatever the cause, with hypnotherapy, we can work with the client’s individual situation to help create a healthy sleep pattern. We can work with relaxation techniques and distraction techniques so that the quest to sleep does not become so dominant it actually causes the alertness that leads to insomnia and very importantly we can work with “A trigger for sleep” The subconscious mind is waiting for a trigger to tell it that it is time to take over from the conscious mind. If the mind is whirring or agitated it will not get the signal and sometimes it can get mixed messages about when it is appropriate to sleep. I explain to clients that in hypnotherapy we can give the subconscious a trigger that it will recognise as the call to sleep, using a visualisation process that re-enforces the sleep message to the waiting subconscious mind. The therapist can also help with strategies such as developing good nocturnal routines, how to make the bedroom conducive to sleep,use self hypnosis techniques and breathing exercises that will all help optimise sleep opportunities. Most importantly the subconscious mind is responsible whilst we sleep it takes care of us and it wakes us up in the morning or when it feels it is necessary, so it is the subconscious mind we need to work with to treat insomnia and this is the area in which the hypnotherapist is the expert.