Tips to Help you get to Sleep

2 Jan 2018
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Festival of Sleep Day, 3 January – part 2

To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…” 

William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Sleep is as necessary to our well being as good nutrition and exercise, yet it is probably the most abused pillar of health. From the moment our caveman ancestors discovered fire, we have been pushing back the night and we now readily ‘steal’ from our sleep time to augment the day. So if you find it difficult to switch off and find that elusive land of nod, here are a few tips that can help:
1. Routine is key: around 60-90 minutes before you want to be sleep, start winding down (do the washing up, dim the lights, turn off electronics). This signals to your brain that it is time for sleep and melatonin production can kick in (that’s the hormone that controls our wake and sleep cycles)
2. Use a relaxation audio when it’s time to go to sleep as it helps lead your brain into sleep gently – and even if it doesn’t feel like it’s working at the beginning keep persevering. We learn by repetition so the brain will eventually get with the programme and wind down. Relaxation audios also benefit the listener as they get you straight into the REM phase of sleep, the part when our brains are processing events that have happened giving you the best chance of quality sleep
3. Progressive muscle relaxation: starting at the top of the head and working down to the toes focusing on each muscle group in your body, tensing selected muscles for a few seconds and then slowly relaxing them over 20-30 seconds. Breath steadily throughout – and don’t worry, no one can see what you’re doing in the dark! 
Face: Lift your eyebrows to wrinkle your forehead, and then slowly relax and let the tension out of your forehead. Close your eyes tightly and then relax and slowly open them. Tense your lips, cheeks, and jaw muscles by grimacing, and then feel a sense of serenity come over your face as you relax all your facial muscles at once.
Shoulders and arms: Bring your shoulders toward your ears, tensing your muscles, and then slowly let them relax. Starting with your upper arms, flex your biceps, and then relax, letting the tension out of your muscles. Tense your forearms, and then slowly let them relax.
Chest and abdomen: Take a deep breath and tense the muscles within your chest and abdomen, and then slowly exhale as you relax these muscles.
Back: Flex the muscles in your back as you arch them on the floor or bed, and then relax and let the stress and tension go out of your back muscles.
Hips and buttocks: Tighten the muscles in your hips and buttocks, and then slowly release the tension and feel the stress leaving this area of your body.
Legs and feet: Flex your leg muscles, squeezing your legs together, and then slowly relax. Flex your feet for a few seconds, and then relax them. Curl your toes, and then slowly let them return to neutral.
When trying anything new, it takes practise so persevere with these techniques – they do work.
If you would like more help with sleep related issues, hypnotherapy has a good track record with alleviating symptoms. Call us on 01798 344879 or email for a chat

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