Insomnia is gruelling. Anybody who has experienced it knows the frustration that accompanies night after night of sleep deprivation.
But why does the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep elude some people? For some people this can become more pronounced during times of stress or as we age. Nobody is able to provide one clear answer. But what we do know is that CBT Hypnotherapy can be extremely effective in providing a toolkit that allows you to sleep soundly once more.
Breathing Exercises for Insomnia
The first step in any comprehensive insomnia cure has to be learning breathing techniques. These can be extremely effective in relaxing your mind and body. In his book, Life With Breath, Ed Harrold mentions a study at Harvard Medical School:
“..people with chronic insomnia were studied… After practicing the yoga and breathing techniques for eight weeks, the participants showed significant improvements in sleep efficiency and total sleep time. They also awoke fewer times during the night and stayed awake for shorter periods before falling back to sleep.”
Serotonin Release for Improved Sleep
Ed Harrold goes on to explain how the processes around breathing impact sleep:
“When we stimulate the vagus nerve with deep breathing and do gentle neck rolls, we tell our brain to secrete the hormone serotonin. We need to have a high level of cooling serotonin during the day to fall asleep and sleep through the night. When we’re not sleeping well, it’s often because our levels of cortisol and adrenaline are high, and that causes our systems to overheat.”
So we can see that learning to breathe deeply and stimulate serotonin release is essential in beating insomnia. For many people this alone may be sufficient. And breathing is something that can be studied alone, or with the help of a therapist.
In my practice I incorporate five key methods for incredibly effective results in getting rid of insomnia.
Breathing and Relaxation
Firstly, I teach breathing exercises as Ed Harrold advises. Secondly, I teach muscle relaxation techniques. Relaxing all the muscles of the body has a major impact in slowing down the corresponding thoughts in our brain. Thinking is very verbal. Whether we are conscious of it or not, our mouth tongue and jaw are closely linked to thoughts passing through our mind. Once all the muscles in our jaw are all relaxed, then thoughts dramatically slow.
Once our breathing and muscles are prepared for sleep, then it’s time to focus on thoughts and thinking. Mindfulness teaches us to emotionally disengage from the thoughts in our brain. We observe thoughts, which often pop up as images in our mind. We can consciously decide not to follow these thoughts but instead to watch them pop up and then let them go. The study of mindfulness is lifelong, but even at the most simplistic level it teaches us that we don’t necessarily have to get caught up in thinking – we have a choice.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT is the fourth tool in our kit. The approach that CBT takes is dependent on your thinking patterns and the unique ways you perceive your sleep issues. For instance, during the day your thoughts may focus on dreading getting into bed because of your sleeplessness. You can work you exchanging thoughts of dread for ones of acceptance. CBT helps to reframe problems in a way that is helpful to changing the situation for the better.
Hypnosis for Insomnia
The final key component of beating insomnia is rehearsing all these techniques during hypnosis. You can rehearse putting the four elements of breathing, relaxation, mindfulness and CBT into practice so they start becoming automatic. Hypnosis allows you to experience the new sensations of relaxation and slowed breathing. At the same time you will observe thoughts with mindfulness and automatically replace negative thinking with helpful replacement thoughts.
If it sounds like rubbing your tummy while patting your head, then don’t be put off. My job as therapist is to do the work for you. All you need to bring to the therapy session is a willingness to change. CBT Hypnotherapy rapidly transforms the way we deal with life’s challenges, not by changing the situations, but by changing patterns of thinking, emotion and behaviour.
Call: 07990 572900
Appointments are available at 39 Harley Street on Fridays or on Flood Street in Chelsea Monday to Thursday.