Last night I woke at 3 am. I vaguely remembered a dream and tried to capture some of the ephemeral images still in my imagination. Nevertheless, I soon found myself ruminating over the worries and anxieties of the approaching day. What should one do when faced with these kinds of sleepless nights? There is a sequence of techniques I have found which help me to fall back into a deep and restful sleep and which I would like to share with you.
Although, before I do, I would like to share with you a few things about sleep and an environment, which is conducive to sleeping. Sleep has five stages. The first four stages are non-REM sleep and the fifth is REM. Alpha brain waves characterize stage 1, theta waves stage 2, and delta waves stage 3 and 4. People familiar with hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and deep states of meditations are already familiar with stages 1 and 2 where some lingering consciousness may remain. Realizing you are entering these stages of sleep is useful because it helps you remain calm, peaceful, and relaxed as you drift off into deeper stages of sleep. However, there are some important things to remember about your sleeping environment. Sleep as close as possible to complete darkness. You may even want to wear an eye mask to block out light if necessary. Keep the temperature in the bedroom of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Wear socks to bed if your feet get cold. Avoid the flashing lights and images of the TV prior to going to bed and maintain a consistent bedtime and routine. Some dietary considerations to think about include avoiding snacks and sugar prior to bedtime in addition to avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Sometimes, it is beneficial to eat a high protein snack before going to bed because protein helps your body produce tryptophan, which will help you sleep.
The things I do to help me fall back to sleep if I awake in the middle of the night includes first recognizing if I am in a state of worry or anxiety. It is important to be mindful of your mental states at all times but if you suffer from insomnia, it is especially vital to recognize when you are in a state of worry or anxiety because this alerts you that it is time to apply interventions. When I realize this, I start to imagine my bedroom and home are completely safe. Sometimes I visualize I am sleeping in a comfortable, safe, protected place surrounded by loving beings lulling me to sleep. Next, if I had been studying or reading prior to bedtime, I may recall the words and contemplate their meaning, especially if what I read was something soothing or inspirational. Finally, I imagine when I exhale all my cares and worries, all my stress and tension, and fears and anxiety, leave my body in the form of black smoke. I like to imagine the smoke as if it was my breath on a cold day and that I see it dissipating into thin air. Then, I imagine when I inhale; I inhale beautiful, peaceful, serene, and tranquil light. By this time, I usually fall into a deep and peaceful sleep and wake feeling calm and rested.
One final tip with which I will leave you, during times of high stress in my life, I have found it useful to get out of bed and to either make notes or write in my journal and therefore get all my thoughts out of my head and on to paper. I then can return to bed confident I have captured all my thoughts and concerns. I then begin the visualization sequence I described in the proceeding paragraph and soon I find myself falling fast asleep.
If you suffer from insomnia, I hope these few short tips help you to get a good night’s sleep. I know from my own experience how difficult and frustrating life can be without it. I have found these techniques have consistently led to a sound night’s sleep.
If you need assistance getting a good night’s sleep or would like to learn more about sleep, self-hypnosis or meditation, give call me at (805) 637-4263 or email me to arrange for a free consultation.