Sleep is one of those things that happens best when we let go, so getting too focused on it can actually be disruptive. The more you think about whether you’ll be able to fall asleep tonight and what you should do to stop waking up, the more you unconsciously identify yourself as somebody with sleep problems, which in turn programs you to have insomnia. Paul Mckenna, hypnotist and NLP practitioner, calls insomnia “just a habit” which we often install by accident.
As a society we’re conditioned to believe things get resolved by “doing” something and healing sleep issues therefore presents a real challenge. For sleep, like relaxation, is all about “not-doing”, a practice which is undervalued in Western society. Relaxation, doesn’t happen because you “do” something – it happens because you “un-do” or “let go of” the tension your were holding onto. Equally sleep happens as a result of non-action; it happens when you let go of thinking, planning, worrying and all the tension that accompanies the “doing mind”.
The best techniques or exercises that help induce sleep, are therefore those that aid the transition out of the restless thinking mind. A combination of good sleep hygiene, hypnosis and NLP exercises makes for the most effective approach for curing insomnia. Paul McKenna offers all of these in his book, “I CAN MAKE YOU SLEEP”. Undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of the book is its accompanying hypnosis CD which is really excellent – in fact it’s so good I’ve only very rarely got to the end of it! Trained as a hypnotherapist I may have a slight advantage over the average listener, but the way in which the voice and music on the recording ebb and flow and switch from one ear to the other, makes it powerful enough to lull many insomniacs into a restful night’s sleep.
Paul McKenna also outlines basic sleep hygiene. The first rule in the list (getting up half an hour earlier) is, according to clinical research, the single most effective strategy for curing insomnia. If your body gets used to catching up on sleep late in the morning, it does not prepare properly for sleep at the beginning of the night. When you move the waking-up time, the rest of the cycle has to move as well.
1. Get up half an hour earlier than your usual desired getting up time.
2. Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
3. Don’t take any naps during the day.
4. At least 3 times a week, take at least 20 minutes of exercise.
5. Finish eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
6. Don’t have any caffeine after 2pm.
7. Cut out alcohol.
8. Switch off the TV one hour before you go to bed.
9. Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
10. If you are in bed for more than 20 minutes, do one of the book’s exercises (or get up and do something boring).
11. Keep your bedroom dark at night.
12. Have a warm comfortable bed in a room that is not too hot.
13. Don’t watch the alarm clock – face it away from you.
14. Use a hypnosis CD.
For 2 short and easy-to-implement NLP exercises that will help you sleep, watch this 5 minute video:
Paul McKenna’s book and its accompanying hypnosis CD are available on Amazon (Uk: http://amzn.to/qkW9m0). As always, I am not affiliated to the products I recommend and make no financial gain from the links.