Why is Sleep So Important?

6 Jun 2017
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How to super-charge your REM!

One of the ‘homeworks’ I ask my clients to do is to play my audio download every night when it’s time to so to sleep. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

And yet I get all sorts of excuses…
I got to bed too late to listen
I’m worried it might disturb my husband/wife/partner
My laptop/computer/phone is downstairs so I couldn’t play it in my bedroom
etc, etc
There are two reasons this process is important: firstly it demonstrates commitment to the therapy, it shows you are engaged in it and are willing to help yourself to make those changes that you want to happen, and secondly it has a physical effect, it helps get the brain into the right mode to activate your REM state (Rapid Eye Movement) – more of this later. By skipping this part of the therapy they are affecting their own results. So why is it important and what does it do?
My audio is simply me talking with soft music playing in the background, it is a language pattern designed to relax and lead you gently into sleep (obviously not to be listened to whilst driving or doing anything that requires your full attention!) – and not just any old sleep but straight into the REM phase. When we sleep we go through four or five cycles of deep sleep, REM and light sleep, and that REM phase is when our brains do all sorts of processing and downloading of events that have happened during the day, week, month, year or even further back.
Effectively we change our memories from being emotional to being narrative. Say, for instance, you had an argument in the day which really upsets you. During your REM phase you re-run the event either in clear or metaphorically (dreaming) and move it from a part of the brain known as the Primitive Brain to the intellectual part of the brain, the Neo Cortex, where we have control over it so that in the morning we might have forgotten about the incident – we might not have but we certainly won’t be feeling it’s effects quite as keenly, and after a few nights it will have disappeared altogether, you won’t carry those dragging feelings with you in the day. This doesn’t mean you have forgotten the incident, if reminded of it you will be able to recall it but it will have lost that heightened emotional attachment, you will no longer ‘feel’ it and it will no longer be at the forefront of your thoughts.
This process is the same whether you’re facing anger, embarrassment, grief, sadness and the length of time it takes to ‘process’ the event(s) is different to every individual. Quite literally things do look better after a good night’s sleep.
But it is important to get the right quality of sleep, in order to allow the brain to do its job. This doesn’t mean going to bed excessively early or needing to have 8, 9, 10 hours sleep. As with so many things in life, it is much more important to get good quality over big quantity!
By listening to a relaxation audio at the point of falling asleep our brain picks up on the pattern of the audio, the language used gently draws you down into sleep right at the REM phase, allowing you to fall into a deeper and more restful sleep – and into that REM phase when your brain is most receptive to suggestion. So when you listen to a positive audio at this point, it helps you get a better quality of sleep meaning you wake up much more refreshed.
Ideally we would allow ourselves a top-up nap or two in the day but it is nigh on impossible to factor that into our daily lives! However our brains are designed to ‘download’ or process every 90 minutes or so and by preventing this from happening we’re storing up a lot of stuff to work through at night. If it’s been a particularly trying time, we might find our night sleep is severely disrupted as our brains try to process everything in one go – and unfortunately REM is restricted to around 20% of our sleep patterns: if we try to overdo it our brain wakes us up. Many of you will be familiar with that: being wide awake in the middle of the night and not able to get back to sleep, often feeling quite miserable, especially during a time of stress or anxiety.
So, what can we do? Simply by making a break in whatever you’re doing, changing your outlook for a few short minutes and allowing your brain a little ‘free-wheeling’ time can have huge benefits. That break in focus and change of scenery can be invaluable, whether it’s a five minute walk in the fresh air, taking the dog out, popping down the road to get a coffee, or pushing back from your desk and plugging in a short relaxation audio which puts you into a light trance, effectively replicating the REM state would be ideal.
A very small adjustment in our daily lives could reap huge benefits in our mental health…
If you want to find out more about how Hypnotherapy can help you reclaim your sleep, contact Quest Hypnotherapy (geraldine@questhypnotherapy.co.uk / www.questhypnotherapy.co.uk )

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