Say Good Night to your insomnia

Say Good Night to your insomnia

From the outside looking in, Andrew’s career was dazzling.

Many of his friends envied the lifestyle they saw through the lens of social media.

Briefing teams for an internationally renowned organisation, he regularly flew around the world with work. His holiday locations were exotic and equally far-flung.

And yet, Andrew was nearing the end of his tether. 

Glamorous jobs come with unglamorous pressures and responsibilities. Never mind anything going on back at home.

Gruelling hours travelling, driving down dark, unfamiliar foreign roads. Throwing open a laptop in a hotel room, working long into the night. The kind of pressures that were keeping Andrew awake at night just kept mounting up. His insomnia was, as he put it, ‘relentless’.

‘If I don’t get some sleep, I don’t know…’ his voice tailed off.

Wendy was waiting for an operation.

She was due to have a hip replacement, the operation date was set, but the chronic discomfort was draining her physically and emotionally as, night after night, she struggled to get comfortable in bed. 

‘I just feel all the work I’ve done to prepare for this operation is being drained.’

I could hear the emotion cracking her voice.

Both Andrew and Wendy have different roots to their insomnia, but just one hypnotherapy session has helped them both.

Within a couple of weeks, Andrew reported getting better quality sleep, although he was still waking up in the night. 

‘I’m happy,’ he reported.

I want more for him, but this is a great start. When he does awaken, he’s getting back to sleep faster with the mind relaxation techniques I’ve taught him.

Wendy was astonished how much longer she was sleeping after our session. Her arthritic hip had been robbing her of much needed rest. She said:

‘To have immediate “memory” of how it feels to be deeply relaxed and pain-free was incredibly powerful.’

Sleep is not optional. Daytime irritability, depression, anxiety and trouble concentrating are all symptoms of insomnia. And if you’re interested in performing at your best, it’s essential. Waking up in the night is normal, but being unable to get back to sleep is not.

Reportedly, Roger Federer sleeps 10 hours a night and Usain Bolt; nine.

How well do you sleep? If you could improve your sleep in one session, would you take that step?

Honouring the Greats: Rules of the Mind – Part Two

Honouring the Greats: Rules of the Mind – Part Two

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

Albert Einstein, physicist and ‘most famous scientist in history’

Change. We all want the power to change ourselves for the better, but why is that change so elusive? Lasting change needs our thinking mind and emotional mind working together. Our emotional mind lives in the subconscious and drives all our cravings and fears. We may want to let go of a few extra inches, but we may also be aware that we ‘love’ crisps and chocolate and when we’ve had a hard day, chocolate calls us like a siren. 

This is where the role of the hypnotherapist is to work with the client to achieve whole mind desire for change, so the emotional mind and thinking mind work together.

It can be argued that in this quote above, Einstein acknowledges intelligence is about just this process, that true intelligence is about much more than academic ability. It requires whole mind power.

This is the second of two blogs exploring master hypnotherapist Gil Boyne’s eight Rules of the Mind and how understanding them gives greater insight into mastering how we can change. The first four rules can be found here.

The founder of Transforming Therapy, Gil Boyne, knew much about change from both sides of the therapist’s chair. 

As a practitioner he had an extraordinary career, with many achievement milestones marked along the way. As a man he took himself from teenager tearaway to the hypnotherapist sought out by Hollywood stars, including Sylvester Stallone, created his training institute, many novel techniques and whose honours include Man of the Century, by the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in 2000

Here are his Rules of the Mind: five to eight

Once an idea has been accepted by the subconscious mind, it remains until it has been replaced by another idea. And the longer the idea remains, the more opposition there will be to replacing it with a new idea.
Thoughts drive our actions so it follows changing our thoughts changes our actions, says Gil Boyne. Not all our thoughts may be correct, but we hang on to them. Can chocolate really make us happy? Can a drink really steady our nerves? Can a cigarette really help us in any way? Looking at the cold facts; no, but for anyone who has been telling themselves that sugar, alcohol or nicotine has an essential wellbeing benefit, that’s an emotionalised response and a fixed idea that can be changed. Facts are facts – the sun does set in the west and rise in the east, but ideas, like ‘smoking calms my nerves’ can be changed.

An emotionally induced symptom tends to cause organic change, if persisted in long enough.
According to Boyne, many reputable medical men believe more than 70 per cent of human ailments are functional rather than organic. Diseases caused by germs, parasites and viruses have their place, but so do conditions caused by self-medicating with drugs, legal or otherwise, as well ailments with an emotional root – stress, for instance, is regularly cited in physical conditions.

Each suggestion acted on creates less opposition to the successive suggestions.
This is why your therapist will take you through responsiveness exercises as you begin your therapy sessions and use a variety of induction techniques as your trance depth is developed. As your subconscious mind accepts that you feel more relaxed, that your eyes have remained shut even though you tested them, so it will accept more complicated suggestions.

When dealing with the subconscious mind and its functions, the greater the conscious effort, the less the subconscious response.
If you’ve ever struggled with sleep you’ll know the harder you try to get to sleep, the harder it is to get to sleep. And that, in itself, is one key to enjoying great sleep – sleep comes to you, it drifts over you like a soft blanket and wraps you in its gentle warmth (feeling sleepy yet?!) – in short, you float into it. So it is with the subconscious; you can’t force it. Develop an expectancy that change is coming and ‘let it happen’, the subconscious mind will follow.

Which of the eight rules has been most enlightening for you? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.

References
Gil Boyne, biography, Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Boyne
Gil Boyne, press cuttings.
https://www.gilboyneonline.com/how-gil-boyne-helped-stallone-become-rocky-balboa/
Gil Boyne Hypnotism Training Manual, Westwood Publishing
https://www.westwoodpublishingco.com/#/

Four feel-good hormones to happy

Four feel-good hormones to happy

Feeling low? Feeling anxious? Caught up in looping thoughts, none of which make you glad to be here right now?

We may know the answer to our misery is to get out and ‘move it’, but our mind is set on ‘meh’.

Our bodies are designed to move, leap, bound about and live – with a capital L. 

Unfortunately, depression and anxiety prefer the opposite. Sitting in, on the sofa, wrapped in a duvet, consuming ice cream/crisps/haribo (pick your poison, or combination) like it’s going out of fashion, caught up in our own fears, unable to sleep properly… Couch to 5k may as well be Couch to Mars…

So where to start? Certainly a Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) session on taking action is ideal for getting you out the door, blinking into the daylight, and shaking your backside with an enthusiasm you can scarcely recall.

Out there you’ll find four friends, who haven’t been coming around for a while. They are:

  • Dopamine
  • Endorphins
  • Serotonin
  • Oxytocin.

These four guys are like the four musketeers – they’re all for one and one for you. They are the ‘feel good’ hormones. Want to feel better? Go find them. And the best way to create feel good hormones? Make your own. Naturally.

Dopamine

Here is probably the easiest start. Top up your dopamine to the brim. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that helps control the pleasure and reward centres in our brains.

  1. Laugh. Put on your favourite funny DVD, rewatch comedy classics, listen to comedians until you weep with laughter. Laughter is a well-researched pain killer which is also said to stimulate regions of the brain that trigger dopamine. For me, Laurel and Hardy’s Laughing Gravy lifts the darkest mood. And it’s got the cutest dog. The cutest dog that ever lived. Don’t believe me? Watch it. I dare you not to laugh.
  2. Set goals. Easy ones. Like getting off the sofa and having a shower. Celebrate this achievement. Seriously. It’s the striving to achieve that triggers the dopamine. Set goals you can meet and cheer yourself on. Dopamine rising. Yes; go you!
  3. Massage. Lowering stress hormones and creating dopamine, massage is a worthwhile investment, because it also stimulates your next best friend – serotonin.

Serotonin

OK, we’re going to have to leave the sofa now, but serotonin is worth the effort. You’ll get: better sleep, your appetite should normalise and this mood-improving hormone can help you feel that elusive of moods – happy. Want happy? Step outside because…

  1. Sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D and serotonin needs this vitamin to synthesise. This is just one of the reasons why the winter months feel so gloomy (that and the cold and the wind and the rain and the central heating sucking the air dry and… I’m not a winter fan) but you don’t need a lot of daylight, just enough to feel the sunlight on your face and forearms (if you can bear to roll up your sleeves).
  2. Walking – daily exercise boosts this hormone and just a brisk walk will do wonders. Remember; goals met boost dopamine, so let’s get out and cheer ourselves on.
  3. Foods that are rich in tryptophan are said to be good for boosting serotonin. These include: eggs, pineapple, tofu, salmon, nuts and seeds, plus turkey.

Endorphins

These are the anxiety-busters with painkilling power and a calming effect. What’s not to like? Here’s how you wake them up.

  1. Exercise – doesn’t need to be full pelt, a 30-minute walk is going to help, but…
  2. Sweat, even if you slip straight into the sauna or steam room, is going to trigger the production of endorphins as stress melts from your muscles
  3. Chillis are a welcome addition to meals if you enjoy spice as once capsicum hits your tongue it sends a signal to the brain that’s similar to a pain signal, triggering endorphins

Oxytocin

If ‘love is the drug’ oxytocin is certainly the hormone at play. It’s stimulated by intimacy and that can be through:

  1. Massage. Yes, up again as a top feel good hormone starter tool. Along with serotonin and dopamine, oxytocin is stimulated by massage.
  2. Hugs. Research reports differ on how many we need to feel tip-top but it’s certainly more than two daily and as many as12 if you want to thrive, according to family therapist, Virginia Satir.
  3. Pets really do make us feel better. Cuddling up with your cat or playing with a dog can improve oxytocin levels.

Starting to get overwhelm? If this is looking like a lot of effort you don’t have, think multitask: deciding you’re going to make a start and celebrating your decision to take action, taking a 30 minute brisk walk in daylight and stopping to pet friendly looking dogs, and you’re working on all four. Eggs for breakfast, hug your nearest and dearest when you greet them and get a massage once a month… these are all going to help you heal you.

Because here’s the truth: you are your own rescue. I can help you take those steps but you are the one who takes action. And that is, ultimately, the most empowering thing I can tell you.

You are your own rescue. You have the power.

Massage for serene sleep

Massage for serene sleep

Massage has had a positive effect on every medical condition we’ve looked at.
– Tiffany Field, PhD

This second blogpost on sleeplessness, and how to overcome it, looks at the power of massage and aromatherapy. Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychology, and Psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Tiffany Field, believes massage has a myriad of wellbeing benefits. Let’s see how it works for sleep.

Morpheus has been a less than reliable bedfellow of late. Routines have been interrupted and, much to my shame, I spent several days last week running on six hours or less. And you know how these sleep-less habits can kick in…

When you’re practising what you preach and the lovely, fickle Morpheus still appears to be spending his early hours elsewhere, then it’s time to try another tack.

So when I booked myself in for a Serene Sleep Spa Day at The Midland Hotel in Manchester I was in the perfect state to test. It’s possible to arrive an hour early and take advantage of the spa’s pool, sauna and steam room facilities, all of which I tried out.

As Tom Cruise tells Rene Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, ‘You had me at “hello”…’ Once I was wrapped up in my robe and slippers and padding towards the Himalayan salt-walled sauna I was at the “hello” point. By the time I’d swum about, steamed myself liberally and tropical showered myself back to consciousness, I wanted to move in. How could this get any better?

How little I knew.

A Serene Sleep massage here involves the power of aromatherapy, hot oils, hot stones and rose quartz crystals. Face down on the massage table, swaddled in towels, my therapist asked me to deeply inhale three times from a steaming bowl filled with a concoction that included rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang and lavender oils.

Up I go to another relaxation level.

And then the massage begins. Ever had a hot stone massage? I’d seen advertisement pictures of women with stones balanced down their bare-backed spine. I’d thought: ‘hmm, that looks a bit odd/potentially tortuous’. That is not what a hot stone massage involves. The hot stones are held by the therapist. As she pushes them into the muscles of the back, the back muscles relax under the pressure. And, of course, all the heat just enhances the effect as the quartet of aromatherapy oils sink deep into the skin as the stones are swooshed about in a smooth, sweeping action.

My face receives similar attention, this time using polished smooth rose quartz and my scalp is massaged as well. Yes, my hair is now full of oil. I don’t care. I don’t care about anything at this point. I just don’t want it to stop. Ever.

My therapist asks me if I have any questions. I’m so relaxed I find it hard to formulate any in-depth thoughts, but I manage to ascertain that this blend of oils is especially formulated to aid relaxation and restful sleep. Deeply inhaling the oils was to get them into my blood stream through my olfactory system, while the back, face and scalp absorb them in through the skin.

I spend a dream-like half hour sipping herbal tea and reading a magazine in the relaxation suite before wolfing my high tea and saying goodbye to the very lovely spa team. I float off into the icy cold late afternoon, oblivious to the world. I couldn’t care less that I was waiting for  bus with no make up on and hair full of oil (Apparently the trick is to keep the oils on for as long as possible; so I slept in them).

The journey home swam by and I cheerfully sat down to three hours’ work without a care.

And did I sleep like a baby? I read for about 15 minutes before nodding off and I slept five-star restorative sleep. Yes, I woke up a couple of times, but I slipped back without more than a murmur of ‘what’s the time?’.

As a therapist I’m always interested in others’ practices and I cannot fault aromatherapy-based spa experiences for bringing a delicious sense of ‘because I’m worth it’ luxury into our lives. You get what you pay for in life. The energy put into the spa day experience at The Midland more than justified the investment I brought to the table.

My only quibble; why create a package that includes a high tea that’s so cake-centric? It’s like you slip from one zone of herbal teas and health into another of retox by sugar and less-than-complex carbs. Don’t get me wrong, the dainty sandwiches were tasty and I’m confessing here I parked my Lent pledge to enjoy two very delicious scones. Surely there’s room on the menu for a more healthful high tea option?

And of course, there’s the question; is this a long-term solution to sleeplessness? Perhaps not; I’ll let you know how long the effects last, but I’m certainly a fan of the serene sleep massage can bring to a woman’s wellbeing and as I type this, more than 24-hours later, I still feel the ripple effects of all that calm and balance.

The House of Sleep

The House of Sleep

How do people go to sleep? I’m afraid I’ve lost the knack. I might try busting myself smartly over the temple with the night-light. I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.
 ~ Dorothy Parker

God bless Dorothy, blindingly witty even through her insomnia, although of course sleeplessness isn’t very funny when it’s you.

Remember that macho culture around sleep from not so long ago? ‘Sleep is for wimps… I’ll sleep when I’m dead… sleep is a luxury…’ I’ve heard all of these and more from the candle at both ends-burning brigade, who might have even dabbled in that fad for trying to get by on as little as possible because more is more and all-nighters are all part of the fun, aren’t they?

All yet – and that’s a very big YET – there’s a huge amount of evidence to argue that the top performers do not burn on through the night, they do not throw off the call or Morpheus in pursuit of more, because they know what they end up delivering is a less-than-genius less.

In his book, The 10,000-Hour Rule, Malcolm Gladwell drew attention to an experiment which looked at the performance of violinists. What separated the good from the exceptional was not just their natural gift or the hours they put into playing, it was the quality of their practise; because the exceptional slept more. The best not only slept almost nine hours a night, but they also had hefty afternoon naps, allowing them to recuperate so they could nurture their talent with greater focus.

Sleep is not for wimps. It’s for masters.

There are plenty of studies to show our thinking is less than at its best when we’re sleep deprived. Bill Clinton has said the worst mistakes he ever made were caused by sleep deprivation and Google even goes to the lengths of providing sleep pods for its employees, so they can catch a power nap when they need one.

So how do we get a great night’s sleep, or at least get better sleep than we do now?

Of course if insomnia is a major issue for you, you could see a Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) practitioner to help you root out where your poor sleep habits come from and learn how to embed new, deep-rest thought processes and techniques that will lull you into healing sleep.

But here are a few suggestions which might, alone, make all the difference…

5 Fast Fixes for a Good Night’s Sleep

  • Screens off! Step away from your laptop/smart phone/TV at 9pm or at least an hour before you go to bed. Read books. Prepare a nutritious lunch for the next day. Play cards or knit or just fold laundry if you like, but step away from screens. I foolishly recorded a short video one evening last week on my smartphone but because I wasn’t at my best it took until 10pm. I was still bushbaby-eyed awake at 2am.
  • Stop drinking caffeine after lunch. You’ll be amazed at the difference. No waking up for midnight trips to the loo. Or certainly less.Try a gentle herbal tea formulated to aid sleep before bed.
  • Don’t eat a heavy dinner. Or a late dinner. Once upon a time you may well have scoffed a curry at midnight and then slept like a baby. I even keep my proteins light in the evening to avoid any rumbling of indigestion.
  • Bed time yoga. There are gentle movements and stretches which prepare the body for bed, bringing energy down and calming the mind ready for rest. And they won’t take more than 20 minutes.
  • Don’t have a hot bath. Relaxing though they may be, hot baths are also stimulating and if you’re anything like me it will take you ages to regulate your body temperature if you slip into bed after a bath. A hot bath in the morning makes much more sense.

What to do when all else fails

Yoga Nidra – it’s the kind of power nap that reaches the parts other power naps fail to reach.

Working to relax you mentally, emotionally and physically, one hour of yoga nidra is said to be the equivalent of four hours’ sleep. It’s a bit like listening to a guided relaxation, but it works on deep, deep levels to restore rested balance. Although usually practiced lying down, yoga nidra can work in a sitting position, so you could yoga nidra on the train or on a flight.

Today has been propelled by yoga nidra, thanks to a rotten night’s sleep brought about by my partner working in London for a few days. I rarely settle into easy sleep the first night he’s away, so 45 minutes on my mat this morning listening to a yoga nidra has been a huge investment in being able to function in a calm, relaxed way. I may not feel 100% but I’ll be fine until 8pm this evening.

Next week I’m off for a spa day to check out a sleep-themed series of treatments. I’ll be quizzing the therapists on what they do and why (if I don’t fall asleep immediately) and I’ll report back on what I learn.