One of the questions I ask when people come to see me is about their sleep and sleep patterns. Did you know that as we age, we need less sleep? However, many of us have not yet reached that stage of life, and we are not getting enough sleep. In fact, it’s rare that someone says to me that they sleep really well and get enough sleep. If you are having some problems with sleep, whether it’s quantity or quality, the following information may be of help:
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is an inability to sleep and/or to remain asleep for a reasonable period of time. Some insomniacs will complain of being unable to close their eyes or “rest their mind” for more than a few minutes at a time. A common misconception is that insomnia is itself a sleep disorder. In fact insomnia may be caused by sleep disorders. Sleep disorders may include:
- Bruxism: grinding of teeth while sleeping Snoring: loud breathing patterns sometimes accompanied by sleep apnea Sleep apnea: obstruction of the airway during sleep Delayed Sleep phase syndrome: disorder of the circadian rhythm Jet lag: travelling in and out of different time zones Narcolepsy: falling asleep spontaneously
- Night terror: abrupt awakening from sleep in a pronounced state of fear
Insomnia may be caused by sleep disorders, but often what I see in clients’ health stories are other reasons, including:
- Stress (the opposite of relaxation) Anxiety (a complex combination of negative emotions that includes fear, apprehension and worry, and is often accompanied by physical sensations such as palpitations, nausea, chest pain and/or shortness of breath). Medications Herbs Caffeine Over active mind
- Physical pain
Insomnia is a relatively common sleeping disorder, which according to Dr. Andrew Weil affects approximately one-third of the adult population worldwide. Unfortunately, as we age, quality of sleep can decrease. While different types of insomnia have different causes, many people can find relief through the following, regardless of the source of their insomnia:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine, and try to go to bed at the same time every night, this may include:
- Not watching the news before going to bed Having a cup of chamomile or other relaxing herb tea before bed Reading a light book for 20 minutes Making sure the bedroom is a peaceful environment
- Writing a gratitude jurnal, so your mind is full of life’s joys before you sleep
- Get plenty of exercise during the day. The more energy you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel at bedtime. But don’t exercise just before bed, remember the bedtime routine!
- Reduce or eliminate your intake of caffeine, stimulants and alcohol. Even when consumed early in the day, these may affect your quality of sleep. Don’t rely on alcohol to go to sleep, it may help you fall asleep, but it alters your sleeping patterns, and it can become a serious problem down the road. Instead try:
- A cup of relaxing herb tea A mug of warm milk
- Calcium magnesium supplement in liquid form
- Avoid large meals late in the evening. Your digestive system will be working and you won’t relax as well as you can
- Learn and practice a relaxation technique regularly. Good examples are:
- Breathing exercises Meditation Self-hypnosis
Don’t obsess about not sleeping. Instead, remind yourself that while sleeplessness may be troublesome, it isn’t life-threatening. Take the time to consciously rest, and a side effect may be that sleep takes over.
Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is sometimes necessary to stop it! If you would like to discuss your own personal sleep patterns and discover how to improve your quality and quantity of sleep, please contact me for an appointment. firstname.lastname@example.org
And, finally, don’t forget that the Hypnotherapy CDs Acceptance, Radiant Health, Throw Away Your Weight and/or Meditation are available to help you fall asleep at night. Many clients find that listening to the progressive relaxation at bedtime is enough to focus their minds, allowing their natural body rhythms to take over.