5 Tricks a Hypnotherapist Swears by for Quality Sleep, Night After Night
Google will provide you with over a million answers to getting the perfect night’s sleep; but how many have you tried and yet have still struggled to fall - and stay - asleep?
From counting sheep to quitting your daytime napping habit and popping the melatonin, it’s definitely easier said than done, especially when you’re lying in bed at 3am with a million thoughts running through your mind.
So, we asked hypnotherapist Claire Aristides, to reveal the tried-and-tested ways she swears by to beat insomnia and getting that quality shut-eye, night after night.
Firstly, it’s important to understand exactly why sleep is so important.
As we all know, sleep is the centre of your overall health and that’s because your body undergoes “maintenance work” while it’s resting at night. If you don’t allow your body adequate time to repair itself, then, you guessed it, you feel absolutely awful.
“When we sleep, we experience four sleep cycles: three that form non-REM (NREM) sleep and one is Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM),” Aristides tells Bed Threads Journal. “During NREM sleep, the body is quite busy and undergoing maintenance work, repairing itself, growing new tissue, and building bone and muscle. It’s also rejuvenating vital chemicals that strengthen our immune system, which circulate in our blood.”
Then during REM sleep, your brain empties information you no longer need through a process via the glymphatic system.
“It's a macroscopic waste clearance system with special channels from the spinal column to the brain cavity that clears surplus or toxic materials from corresponding brain fluids,” Aristides explains. “When you sleep it's like the cleaners come in, and they pack and file away important things in the cupboard, sweep the floors and take the rubbish out.”
5 proven ways to get quality sleep every night, according to a hypnotherapist
Now you understand why it’s crucial you get those quality zzz’s every night, here are the essential sleep techniques Aristides says will help signal to your brain that it’s time for sleep.
Deep breathing is a simple yet powerful technique. Deep breathing activates your vagus nerve, which in turn tells your brain “it's okay, relax”. Deep breathing engages the parasympathetic system, which is our "rest and digest" system.
Box breathing is a simple technique to bring into your sleep routine. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Slowly exhale.
Step 2: Slowly inhale through your nose to the count of four.
Step 3: Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
Step 4: Exhale through your mouth for four.
You can also take this a step further by using your breath's rhythm as a visualisation tool. As you breathe in, imagine the word ‘SLEEP' in your mind and say in your mind 'SLEEP'. As you exhale, do so with any negative thoughts or worries as though you’re letting them go.
2. Sleep blanket body scan
The progressive muscle relaxation technique of tensing and releasing different muscle groups and moving from your toes to your head, is also a powerful technique to signal to the body that it's time for rest.
Be creative with this technique and add in visualisation as you move from the toes up the body. In your mind, tell each part of you it's time for peace and it's bedtime. Just imagine each part of your body preparing for a state of deep calm.
Take this further and imagine that a comfy 'sleeping blanket' is being draped on each part of you starting at your feet. It's warm, comfortable and soothing, and is slowly moving up the legs, all the way up the torso and then finally up to the neck. Each part of your body will relax and enter a state of comfort.
3. Visualise calming scenes
Visualise yourself floating in water, relaxing and feeling light. As you float in the water, imagine you’re washing the cares of the day off you and drifting into a place of calm, restful sleep. Or imagine you’re floating on a cloud up into the skies, ready for a good night's sleep.
4. Make a sleep checklist
Create a routine around sleep and bed, and wake at consistent times. Things to consider:
- Reduce blue light before bed
- Eye mask - this can help you if you are sensitive to light
- Comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow
- Clear the mind: keep a journal next to your bed
- Exercise, but don’t do this too close to bedtime
- Take a relaxing bath or shower
- Minimise alcohol, food and coffee close to bedtime
5. Tweak till you find what works best for you
It is easy to slip into a bad sleep routine, so building a consistent positive habit is essential.
Create a sleep toolkit for yourself based on relaxation strategies that work for you. If the thought of floating on a cloud is your worst nightmare, then find what scenario makes you feel relaxed. The aim should be to create a sleep routine and habits that suit you and your lifestyle.
Remember that if you have a bad night's sleep, tomorrow is a new day - simply start again and tweak the routine. This might be a case of trial and error, so it’s crucial to be patient with yourself; building new habits does take time, but the benefits are worth it.