How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep.
He was a lovely man. Always ready with a smile and always ready to help.
But he had a secret. And it was affecting his health.
He hadn’t slept properly for years.
He’d actually grown used to not sleeping well and no longer expected a good night’s rest when he went to bed. No wonder he felt tired all the time!
I taught him the ritual I’ve outlined for you below and he never looked back.
I’ve used it with many people and the overwhelming majority of people who tried it have found it have transformed the way they sleep.
It’s not something that is original to me, rather it is based on Betty Ericsson’s self hypnosis technique.
When I shared its potential with my friend, at first he wondered whether it would have any positive effect; after all he hadn’t slept properly for years and had no doubt tried many remedies.
But he was desperate and willing to try almost anything so I said to him, “Just try it and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, nothing is lost. If it does, just think how you’ll feel.”
He did indeed try it that very night and told me next morning that he slept like a baby.
And the last time I spoke to him, a couple of years after we’d first done the exercise, he was still sleeping well.
Before I describe the exercise, though, let me ask you a personal question: how well do you sleep?
I hope your answer is “Really good, thanks. And I wake up fresh and ready for the day ahead, too!”
But it may very well not be, because although statistics vary, at a conservative estimate it it would appear that a third of people surveyed are dissatisfied with the quality of their sleep at least some of the time.
In fact the Sleep Council’s “Great British Bedtime Report” (honestly, that’s its title!) states that over 25% of people complain of sleeping poorly on a REGULAR basis.
And when you consider that the Council also comments that even one bad night’s sleep affects your mood, your concentration and your alertness, and that long term sleep deprivation can have serious health consequences, if you are not sleeping well it’s obviously worthwhile doing something about it.
Now I need to say right away that I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, I don’t diagnose or treat people and this article is not intended to offer medical advice. It’s important that you see an appropriate medical professional if you believe poor sleep is affecting your health.
But for what it’s worth, here’s what I shared with him.
Establish a sleep routine; this signals to your mind that you are winding down for the night. E.g. don’t use screen devices for 45 minutes before your bedtime; and no physical exercise or mental stimulation either, though gentle stretching and reading a light book may help. A warm drink (not caffeine based) can help, as can a warm bath but experiment with what works for you. (Baths wake me up for example!) Make the room you sleep in as dark and quiet as possible and try to use the bedroom only for sleeping and … well you can fill in the blank there I think.
Theres no right way or wrong way overall, you simply want to educate your unconscious and conscious to get into that frame of mind where you are preparing for a good night’s sleep and NOT worrying about a restless night. Do whatever works, even if it means experimenting.
When you’re in bed, first become aware of the noises around you then choose to let them fade away again. Some noise is nearly always there and by focussing on it and then dismissing it you are beginning to exercise control over your surroundings. If the noise is outside your control, how do you ignore it? Often simply acknowledging its presence is enough. Then move onto something else. Or simply lower noise by using an imaginary volume control.
Similarly, sometimes your thoughts are racing; hardly conducive to getting to sleep. Again, don’t fight what’s going on in your mind. Acknowledge the thoughts by saying what they are (e.g. “I’m thinking about what to have for dinner tomorrow. Now I’m thinking of having to clean the car.” etc) . Often that’s enough.
You could if you wish imagine putting the thoughts into a chest of drawers and closing the drawers; you can retrieve them when you want so you’re still in control but for now they are tucked away safely. You could also imagine putting the thoughts in a box, launching the box on an imaginary river and allowing the box of thoughts to be gently swept away. Play around to see what works for you. Just don;t fixate on the noise or the thoughts.
Now quietly suggest to yourself that you want to easily drift off to sleep and you want to sleep well and wake up refreshed and alert unless you need to awaken quickly due to any unforeseen circumstance. You could if you want actually state your preferred time of waking and as you do so picture a clock face with your waking up time displayed on it.
Gently breathe in through your noise for a count of four then breathe out through your mouth for a count of five. Do this three times. With practice, you’ll probably find yourself beginning to relax on the first round of breathing in then out; on the second round you’ll usually notice you become quite within, and on the third round even your environment may seem to become a quieter, calmer place.
Next say to yourself: “Three things I can see are…….” and name what you can see. Do this slowly, being aware of the detail of what you are seeing. Of course, if you are lying in bed with the light switched off you may not physically be able to see anything. If this is the case, name any three images that pop into your mind, regardless of how ridiculous they may seem; for example: a can of coke; a camel in the desert; a leaf floating down from a tree.
When you have named three objects you can “see”, say to yourself, “Three things I can hear are…….” and name to yourself any sounds you can hear (a car passing, a clock ticking, your breathing etc.). Be in no rush, listen out for the sounds. If everywhere is super quiet, name three sounds that you imagine.
And then to complete the first round, say “Three things I can feel are…….” and name to yourself what you can feel physically (your hand on your cheek, the bedsheets on your legs, etc.) or emotionally/mentally (sleepy, a little anxious etc.).
In a similar manner to the above, continue by naming two things you can see, two things you can hear, two things you can feel. If possible, choose different things each time.
Then finally one thing you can see, one thing you can hear, one thing you can feel.
It’s quite possible you may have drifted off by this stage, or even before you reach this stage! (Great!)
If not actually asleep it’s highly likely that the least you feel is drowsy and on the verge of sleep, your eyes closed so allow yourself to drift off.
If thoughts pop into your head simply acknowledge them (I’m thinking about…..) then allow them to pass on their way. Or put them in the drawer with those noises, as explained above.
Should you wish, you can slowly continue the process in reverse by naming one thing you can see, hear and feel, then two, then three.
And that’s it!
Simple isn’t it?
But so effective!
Let me know how it works for you.