World Sleep Day … Thanks but here are some useful tips instead!

Hey everyone did you know yesterday was world sleep day? No me neither. I must have forgot to set my alarm for that one. But just in case you don’t know what ‘world sleep day’ is, here is their website’s description;

World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving. It is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.

A celebration of sleep indeed, but a confusing and rather unhelpful one at that. I looked through the main website of the WASM and the connected World Sleep society, but frankly for an organisation that is designed to raise awareness it doesn’t give out too much advice. It does make you aware that there are different levels of membership you can subscribe to for different organisations and events, but pretty much bugger all else. You certainly have to do some sifting through the menus and sub menus before encountering any kind of advice or ‘raised awareness’.

If you want to see for yourself and learn a little more about what they actually do and what the organisers and this special day achieve, the link is http://worldsleepday.org.

Or you can go out for a walk in the fresh or do something else much more constructive instead.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think people need to be informed a lot more on the do’s and dont’s when it comes to sleeping and as an ex-insomniac, cured using a combination of hypnosis (obviously!) and my boss confiscating my reuters pager, I understand how distressing suffering from a lack of sleep can be. But if your mission statement is to ‘lessen the burden of sleep problems’ then a few tips wouldn’t go amiss.

Fittingly I saw a former insomnia client yesterday who apparently now ‘sleeps like a log’ and though hypnosis was at the core of the work we did together, she would have benefitted from some of the points below that I shared with her.

So here are tips*** for improving your chances of a good night sleep, as well as potentially helping you deal with other sleep related problems:

*Tablets and phones emit blue light so avoid taking them to bed or being near you. Obviously you may need to be on call, but when this is not the case, use a traditional alarm clock. It amazes me the number of people who are texting or posting at three o’clock in the morning that they can’t sleep (and clearly can’t make the connection!).

*Stick to a sleep schedule and practise a relaxing bedtime ritual…this helps to regulate your body clock and separates sleep time from more active time.

*Evaluate your room and the quality of mattresses and pillows…Temperature should be on the cooler side (60-65 degrees), make sure you are comfortable and supported and free from distractions (including noisy partners).

*Avoid stimulants, alcohol and heavy meals in the evening…this will include caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol and spicy or large portioned meals.

*Practise progressive, active muscular relaxation….listen to the one that accompanies this book or even better teach yourself how to systematically tense and relax your muscle groups.

*If you want to feel sleepy when you go to bed….Try wearing glasses with amber tinted lenses tor a few hours before you go to bed. These will block the blue light that stimulates your brain (see tablets and phones)

*If you want to feel refreshed in the morning….Decide when you want to wake up and count back in 90 minute blocks (one sleep cycle) to discover the best time to get your head down.

*If you want to fall asleep quickly….Use positive imagery; Imagine yourself in a very pleasant scenario. Make the scenario as detailed as possible but avoid anything that is too exciting, perhaps planning a holiday.

*Or try the paradox principle – try to stay awake! Forcing yourself to remain awake is one of the best ways of falling asleep.

*If you lie in bed feeling worried make a list of all the things you have to do the next day. If it is about something specific, jot that down too and try to allow the thought to drift through your mind rather than focusing on it.

*If you wake up in the middle of the night…You might be experiencing a perfectly natural phenomenon known as ‘segmented sleep’, where people sleep in two long blocks. However, if you lie awake for more than twenty minutes, get up and do something non-stimulating for a few minutes, such as a jigsaw puzzle.

*If you want to learn in your sleep….don’t stay up late trying to cram information into your brain. Instead study during the day, remind yourself about key points just before you nod off and get lots of sleep at night.

*If you want to boost your brain power during the day….Taking a catnap will help you to become more alert and productive. Neuro napping involves listening to music when you are studying or brainstorming and then playing the same music when you nap. Napping boosts memory and creativity by around 60 percent.

*If you are experiencing a recurring nightmare, or bad dream….Imagery rehearsal therapy: Spend some time during the day describing your nightmare or bad dream, creating a different ending of the episode and then imagining the new and improved ending. Studies show that this simple technique stops nightmares 90 percent of the time.

*If you want to gain insights into your concerns and worries….Dream work: Describe a striking dream in detail, look for ways in which it applies to your life. Research shows that around 80percent of people find that this yields an important insight into their concerns.

*If you want to achieve a goal….The power of pre-sleep suggestion: Just before you fall asleep imagine doing whatever you need to do to achieve your goal. As you drift off tell yourself you want these images to appear in your dreams.

The above illustrates techniques used by health professionals. If you believe that you or your child have a psychological problem, please consult a professional.

***Some of these methods were taken from the highly recommended Night School by Richard Wiseman© which I would recommend ahead of going the World Association of Sleep Medicine!

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In addition, I always encourage my clients to use my preferred breathing method and one that has been acknowledged for helping thousands get a good night sleep.

4-7-8 or ‘Relaxing Breath’ Exercise (see demo included)

The tip of your tongue needs to be against the ridge of tissue just behind your top front teeth. You will inhale through the nostrils and exhale from your mouth around your tongue. As you begin the below:
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

This should be repeated for a total of four times.

Night, Night!

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