As a society, we have come to believe the idea that eight hours of sleep a night is the norm. There are notable exceptions: Margaret Thatcher allegedly managed to exist on four hours of sleep a night; Thomas Edison slept three or four hours at night, regarding sleep as a waste of time. Yet for the majority of the population, a single period of sleep is expected.
Although scientists do not yet truly know why we sleep, the benefits of good quality sleep are well documented. Lack of sleep can impair upon cognitive functions the following day, with a lowered ability to concentrate, a shorter attention span and reduced daytime productivity. Poor sleep also impacts on emotional and physical well being: stress and high blood pressure are linked to this, and research has indicated that disorders ranging from reduced healing rates to obesity can be a result of this, as is sexual dysfunction.
Insomnia is generic term that describes the inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep. It can be seen as both a medical condition in its own right and as a symptom of another disorder, either physical or psychological. It is common for people to experience temporary periods of difficult sleep in response to life events, such as stress, work, or simply a change in their sleeping environment or patterns. Lack of exercise, certain food and drink (especially caffeine) and poor sleep hygiene can all impact adversely on a good night's sleep. It is possible that a third of people in the UK experience periods of insomnia (Source: NHS). There are several possible reasons for insomnia. There is a close relationship between anxiety and stress and insomnia: not only can anxiety and stress cause insomnia, but lack of sleep can increase existing stress and tension. The effect of stress on our physical selves is well-documented - many physical processes can be triggered by our mental state. Even low levels of stress can lead to psychological changes such as depression, anxiety, confusion and sleep problems.
Many people have unrealistic expectations of sleep. Some people worry about a perceived lack of sleep, when in effect their sleep level is perfectly normal for them, providing they are able to function without impairment the following day. It is also important to remember that the amount of sleep required generally reduces with age.
After an initial discussion of your sleep habits, hypnotherapy sessions lead you into a gentle, relaxed state of hypnosis, where we can alleviate any subconscious stresses, anxieties and concerns you have surrounding sleep. I create custom sessions containing corrective suggestions to implant into your subconscious, once the reason for your insomnia has been identified. I can also record a relaxation CD which you can play as you fall asleep.
With any sleep-related contition, it is important that you visit your GP to rule out any medical reasons that are preventing you from sleeping. I may not be able to work with you unless you have done so.