Insomnia & Hypnotherapy
Insomnia & Hypnotherapy
Sleeping with the Gods - A new approach to putting Insomnia to bed
Are you someone who tosses and turns all night long? Do you find that the harder you try the more illusive sleep becomes. It is frustrating, exhausting and demoralising but you are not alone. Between 30-50% of the world population have or will experience insomnia at some time in their lives and 10% experience something called chronic or long term insomnia. In Singapore the figure is closer 1 in 8 people.
All insomniacs have a story to tell says Clinical Hypnotherapist Sheila Menon who has helped successful media personalities, newly retired executives, air line pilots and home makers to reclaim their night of peaceful slumber. Insomnia is one of those conditions that can affect old or young irrespective of gender, although Menon says that statistics indicate women are more prone to it. There are two types of insomnia, primary where no one really knows what causes the sleepless nights and secondary insomnia where the insomnia is the result of something else, either depression, pain or other illness.
In my experience there has usually been an incident that sets of the insomnia. Sometimes the incident is dealt with or forgotten but it becomes associated with the patient lying awake or finding sleep difficult. The reason or event that started the insomnia may become resolved but the anxiety or worry remains and of course it is extremely difficult to drift away into the land of nod when you are worrying.
People who suffer from insomnia are often people who like to be in charge. They try many different strategies to fall asleep. Warm milk, pills and potions, exercise, avoiding coffee, using alcohol but if the under-lying or unconscious belief is that sleep is going to be difficult then the anxiety remains. In fact the harder you try to go to sleep the more difficult it gets. That is just the way we are built.
This is the beauty of using hypnosis. There is nothing hard about entering the hypnosis state. It is a natural state of relaxation which feels a bit like a pleasant day-dream. Clinical Hypnotherapists like Sheila Menon use this as a regular method for treating insomnia. Hypnosis is not really sleep she tells us, but Dr James Braid exploring the treatment model in the 1850’s thought it was and named the method after Hypnos the Greek God of sleep. The name is a bit romantic and it has stuck.
Clinical Hypnosis Might Be Your Answer
Clinical Hypnosis is the method of using hypnosis or deep relaxation to help patients with many medical and psychological conditions. These can be as complex as infertility, preparing for surgery, psoriasis, phobias and obesity. It is also very useful to method for making changes in habits and behaviour and for boosting motivation for both patients and clients. Hypnosis has a long tradition in dentistry, sports motivation, performance anxiety and smoking cessation and even bed wetting.
As Sheila Menon tells us it is a very safe form of therapy where the only side effect to watch out for is a feeling of physical and mental relaxation and a sense of well being. In fact when clinical hypnosis is used in combination with main stream medical procedures it can reduce the amount of medication necessary and speed up the recovery process. This is also helpful in reducing dependency to sleeping medication although any change in medication must be done in collaboration with your GP.
Clinical hypnosis is very much like psychotherapy inside a relaxed or hypnosis state. But it is a very specialised for of psychotherapy dealing with both your will power and your unconscious mind. With insomnia patients you begin by dealing with the fatigue and sense of futility that many patients experience. There may be under-lying anxieties to deal with and very often bad sleep habits. But the most important thing in that first session is to facilitate deep refreshing rest and to teach the patient how to do this for themselves.
A clinical hypnosis session lasts about one and half hours. You will spend the first part of the therapy discussing your problem with the hypnotherapist. They will often take notes but these are strictly confidential. Your clinical hypnotherapist will then invite you to lie down or settle into a comfortable reclining chair and begin to help your mind to day dream. Slowly but gently, you will experience your stresses drifting away. Some people even experience a safe and pleasant sensation of drifting down. This is the sensation of connecting more and more completely with your inner self.
In the treatment of insomnia, this inner mind knows exactly how to have a good night’s rest. What has happened is over the months and sometimes years, unwanted stress and anxiety has accumulated and blocked the natural path to a good night’s sleep. Since clinical hypnosis works with the whole person – both mind and body, the physical relaxation will allow you dissolve the unwanted tension. The hypnotherapy will take place once the patient is in a deep and relaxed state. Sometimes the therapy is focused on helping the patient deal with existing problems but very often insomnia patients have created unhealthy habits and coping strategies for going to bed. The hypnotherapy can simply be about resetting the inner balance and allowing the body to do its job of going to sleep. Depending on the patient this can be a very quick process or may require several visits to the clinical hypnotherapist.
Most people who suffer from insomnia have a deep core belief that they will find it difficult to go to sleep. The belief can be so strong that it gets stuck. Since all this happen in the unconscious mind hypnosis is a very useful method for working with insomnia. Of course once we have helped to remove the unhealthy believe the patient needs to learn about sleep hygiene. This is the do’s and don’ts for getting a good night sleep. A very common thing that people who worry about getting to sleep do is they have all sorts of contingency plans. They have books to read, movies to watch all lined up next to the bed. This gives a strong unconscious message – “I have a problem getting to sleep”. Of course, if the patient keeps doing the same thing the old habit of not getting to sleep returns.
Part of the treatment involves a bed-time routine. There are a few simple tips for getting a good night’s sleep. Go to bed at the same time. Make sure you have a bit of exercise during the day. Don’t use alcohol as a relaxant, avoid coffee and eating late. Another important recommendation is remove all distractions and other activities from the bedroom. This room should be only for sleep and cuddling up to your loved one of course. There are a few other things to think about but each person is an individual and the treatment plan will be specially made for each patient.
Your clinical hypnotherapist will also provide you with a fail safe method of experiencing quality rest. For patients who worry about lying awake or waking up during the night, your clinical hypnotherapists can also give you personally tailored suggestions to use for as soon as your head touches the pillow or if you wake up during the night. These can even be helpful for small children who need to get up and go to the toilet during the night.
Patients are taught how to use hypnotherapy for themselves so that they can enter the state of hypnotic relaxation at home. This is called self-hypnosis and it takes ten minutes to do. Once mastered the patient has the benefit of quality rest at their disposal. When practised twice or three times a day it can make an immediate difference to the amount of rest and relaxation you experience.
Sheila Menon is a Fellow of the British Medical Association of Clinical Hypnosis and the Principal of the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (Asia). The LCCH Center in Singapore offers both Clinical Hypnotherapy and Professional Training in clinical hypnosis. For more information please visit hypnosis-singapore.com.