The Insomnia Solution
You already know what suffering with insomnia is like. We've all experienced it. You try to sleep, you want to sleep, but you find yourself tossing and turning, getting up and lying down again. Reading doesn't help; TV doesn't help. Even a glass of warm milk doesn't help. And when you do, finally fall asleep...you wake up three or four hours later and just cannot find you way back to dreamland.
What can you do? Consider self-hypnosis. It's a proven strategy for getting to sleep...and getting back to sleep when you awaken in the middle of the night.
Setting the Stage for Sleep
The strategy for maintaining sleep throughout the night is based on two elements of human behavior: 1) As we approach sleep, we become more "suggestible" and 2) There is one person you know who can make powerful suggestions to you more effectively than anyone else: Yourself.
That's true of all of us. We talk ourselves into things, and out of things. We set goals; we give ourselves lectures - and excuses. And we believe whatever we tell ourselves. Ultimately, who else can we trust?) We are more likely to follow through on our own instructions than those we receive from anyone else, even loved ones or mentors.
Use that 'self-suggestibility' in a constructive way to set the stage for sound sleep. As you get into bed, and as you direct your mind away from the thinking phase and into the fantasy stage, give yourself a "suggestion," aloud or silently. Tell yourself, "I refuse to worry during my sleep state. That kind of worrying accomplishes nothing. I deserve my peaceful, restful sleep."
When we tell ourselves that, we are certainly more likely to follow that suggestion (or advice)...because we heard it from the person we always believe.
Stop Thinking, Start Sleeping
How does "setting the stage" help? It encourages your mind(s) - both conscious and unconscious -- to spend as little time as possible in the thinking stage. Ideally it allows you to skip the thinking stage altogether, so when those real world issues begin to invade, you can direct your thoughts towards specific images, memories, or fantasies that you associate with relaxation. That is: it can accelerate your entry into Fantasy.
I have one client who visualize riding north on Pacific Coast Highway; another visualizes an imaginary round of golf on one of his favorite courses, while a third happily visits a beach on Maui that she remembers well.
Use those images to the unconscious stage. Hold them in your consciousness, let your mined and your body relax in turn...and you will be drawn almost magnetically into the hypnoidal stage that leads, smoothly and pleasantly, to unconscious sleep and real rest.
Use those images to reach the unconscious stage. Hold them in your consciousness, let your mind and your body relax in turn...and you will be drawn almost magnetically into the state that leads, smoothly and pleasantly, to unconscious sleep and real rest.
Try it for a few nights. You'll be amazed.
Next Time: Bump in the Night. But what to do when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep? Don't worry: help is on the way...
Uncontrolled worrying really is like poison - especially when we worry at a time when we cant do anything about it - at night. When we are worried about something that will occur the next day, or worried about some important issue going in our lives, it can interrupt a sound sleep and keep us awake for hours thereafter. It's similar to children who are excited about Santa coming on Christmas Eve. They too have difficulty getting to, and maintaining sleep...through their reason (and their pay-off!) is much, much nicer.
Strategies for Sleep
Preparing for sleep, as discussed in Part 1, is a great way to begin. If you have truly and effectively 'suggested' to yourself that you are ready for good sleep, that you deserve it, then the natural worries of modern life are less likely to become toxic. But sometimes, no matter how well we prepare ourselves, we do wake up in the middle of our sleep - from a barking dog, a change in temperature, a loud noise, a light, a barking dog, or just to go to the bathroom. Then the troublesome thoughts will take advantage and invade, and you're right back where you began.
But the good news is this: whether the cause is toxic worry or not, this simple self-hypnosis strategy can help.
Become aware of your breathing. It may take some practice, but concentrate on the normal, relaxed rhythm of inhaling...and exhaling.
Then begin repeating this series of words only when you exhale:
PEACEFUL... RESTFUL... SLEEP...
PEACEFUL... DEEP... RESTFUL... SLEEP...
The repetition of words, silent or spoken, prevents you from going back into the thinking stage that can actively prevent sleep. Think of the repetition as a substitute for your natural fantasy stage. With practice, you will most likely back asleep within five to ten repetitions of the series of words.
Insomnia of any kind is a nasty and insidious beast. It can ruin a good night and make the following day more difficult than it needs to be. But these self-hypnosis techniques have worked for hundreds of thousands of people already...and they can work for you!