Improved sleep is often the first side-benefit of hypnotherapy. That should come as no surprise to Hypnotherapists considering the statistics on sleep and dream deprivation. Modern living comes at a price. The hurrieder we go, the behind we get – on our SLEEP!
All that busyness of daily living (too much to do, too much information, too many demands) takes a toll – we call it STRESS. Internal stress contributes to all sorts of problems which, eventually, find their way into hypnotherapy offices. So poor quality sleep can be a contributing factor to the client’s problem. Or it can BE the presenting problem. These need to be treated differently.
Everything feels worse when you haven’t had enough sleep.
As a contributing factor, insufficient quality sleep exacerbates the symptoms of any problem you might be working with. And it’s no secret that healing takes longer when you’re not getting enough sleep. So, as you work to relieve the causative factors the client’s mind will become more peaceful. As a result, they’ll begin to discover they’re enjoying restorative sleep. Often, this comes as a wonderful surprise because they didn’t even realize sleep was an issue!
It’s like the story about cooking frogs. Drop a frog into hot water and it will jump out. Put a frog in cool water and raise the temperature slowly, he’ll stay right there and cook! So clients are often unaware of just how sleep-deprived they actually are.
When sleep (or lack of sleep) is the presenting problem, the person is usually willing to “try” hypnosis because they’re at wits end. They’ve tried everything and they’re desperate. Nothing else has worked. The desperation just adds to the pressure. And that’s the problem.
They’re caught up in thinking-thinking-thinking and they can’t shut it off. They THINK they’re not sleeping at all which keeps them ruminating all day (I won’t be able to sleep AGAIN!) Then they ruminate all night (I STILL can’t sleep! What time is it? Only 4 more hours before I have to get up! Oh, my! Oh, my!)
They think about all the negative consequences of not being able to sleep (I won’t be able to function, I’ll lose my job, I’ll end up in the psyche ward …) And, essentially, all their thinking is keeping them awake.
There are PHYSICAL causes of sleeplessness.
So, it’s wise to rule out breathing issues first. But it can sometimes take months for a person to get into a sleep clinic. So, what you can do is run a few diagnostics and see if you can stop the mental machinations. But this is important. The client needs to be willing to do their part because you can’t do it for them. You cannot MAKE them sleep!
The first problem to address is that BED has been associated with NOT sleeping. So, the person must be willing to get up out of bed and go somewhere else if they’re not sleeping. Most people are going to balk at this suggestion. (What? You want me to stay UP? But that’s going to cut into my SLEEP!!)
The thing is – they’re NOT sleeping!
Sleep expert, Dr. Barry Krakow recommends that the person recognize they don’t WANT to sleep. That’s right – they do not WANT to sleep. They want to THINK. They’re keeping themselves awake. Lying in bed thinking and worrying about not sleeping is just reinforcing the problem. They need to realize that their brain needs to slow down to be able to sleep.
Subconsciously, their day is not OVER yet. So the best strategy is to get up, and go do something relaxing and pleasurable to complete the day. Read a book, do a jigsaw puzzle, watch a funny movie (laughter is relaxing). Then, when they feel sleepy (and not before) it’s time to go back to bed. They may have to do this several times to retrain their brain. But usually they’ll see improvement within a week. Cool, huh?
Get the client moving in the right direction in terms of sleeping better, first. The idea is to take care of the quality of sleep and the quantity will resolve itself. Then you can focus on resolving the underlying emotional factors.
Anxiety can prevent a person from sleeping. And the inability to sleep generates anxiety. And this can create a cycle of increasing anxiety. The task is to identify the cause of the anxiety so you can break the cycle. Then the client will be able to sleep peacefully.
If your client is waking up repeatedly throughout the night there might be a very good reason for it. Waking may be the Subconscious Mind’s solution to a serious problem. The Subconscious Mind’s Prime Directive is to protect. So it will wake a person if it happens to “bump into” any perceived threat. For example, NOT-breathing is a life-threatening condition. So the Subconscious Mind must wake the person up to keep them alive.
If there’s a problem with falling asleep, the client’s Subconscious Mind may be trying to protect them from a memory that is pushing it’s way into consciousness. e.g. unresolved past traumatic event. You can provide safety and help the client face the event to restore peace of mind. That will allow them to sleep.
Poor quality or insufficient sleep can be a presenting issue. Or it can be a contributing issue that’s contributing to the problems clients come to you for help in resolving. So think about how you can help improve your clients sleep to get better and more lasting results.