Sleep - A Complete Guide
by Clementine, 4th December 2020
How to fall asleep faster
Sleep is such an important part of everyone's lives and yet it is often neglected when looking at personal development. We examine techniques of how to get better sleep quality and how to reduce sleep problems which occur naturally as part of our lives.
What is sleep hypnosis and does sleep hypnosis really work?
First things first, sleep hypnosis or sleep hypnotherapy as it’s sometimes known, is a type of hypnotherapy to help improve sleep. The best sleep hypnosis teaches you to sleep hygiene such as tips for sleeping and how to get to sleep. We all know how to fall asleep - it’s a natural process - but sometimes we need help and sleep hypnosis can make sleep easier. It’s basically a helping hand for good sleep. It can often take you into what feels like a deep sleep meditation – and it’s super relaxing.
As with any type of wellbeing approach, hypnotherapists cannot make claims or guarantees, because it’s rarely that simple. But all the experts agree that different people, with different sleep patterns, circumstances, backgrounds, environments and other factors, respond in different ways in different conditions. What we do know is - getting your mind and body into a relaxed state and feeling supported is an effective way to work towards achieving a better sleep-wake cycle.
With Clementine’s sleep sessions, the sleep hypnosis approach we use includes a range of different relaxation tools, such as progressive relaxation, guided visualisation, guided breathing and hypnotic suggestions for calming the body and mind. Relaxation is an important factor in falling asleep as well as maintaining a healthy mind and body in general. That’s why we love sleep hypnosis so much. It’s great for getting a good night sleep and increasing sleep quality.
In addition to the relaxation and sleep suggestions, our sessions are recorded with sleep music to relax. These sleep sessions touch on other topics such as confidence and the skill of letting go of troubling thoughts, which means that as you repeat the sessions, you’re also training yourself in key skills associated with emotional wellbeing and resilience. This boosts your overall sense of wellbeing, which can improve sleep and long term sleep hygiene markedly.
One of the most common complaints associated with poor sleep and sleep disorders is a ‘racing mind’. When the day ends and the lights are switched off, our busy internal chatter can seem to fill our awareness completely, often dragging us into a string of uncomfortable thoughts that stimulate the ‘fight or flight’ response, which in turn, prevents us from drifting off.
For chronic insomnia sufferers, this can be so disconcerting that they delay going to bed at all, which affects their sleep patterns and sleep cycles further. By beginning a hypnosis recording, people have access to another, calmer and more positive voice to listen to. This can prevent the worry and rumination from hijacking their attempts to fall asleep. A good night’s sleep is so important.
What is the difference between sleep hypnosis and sleep meditation?
We’ll come onto sleep hypnosis and sleep meditation specifically in a moment. Firstly, it’s worth noting that there are some striking similarities between hypnosis and meditation in general. Both can lead you to deep relaxation, both can help with sleep and both can cultivate positive change in your mental health and overall wellbeing.
However, there are also some marked differences between the two.
First up, hypnosis. Hypnosis is a natural state, one we pass through many times a day, naturally. We can slip in and out of the state without even realising it. We each experience it in different ways. Some might experience a relaxed, trance-like sleepy state, others simply feel super chilled. A hypnotherapist can take you into a state of hypnosis, and while there, introduce positive suggestions and other approaches to help you make the changes you need.
Whereas, the practice of mindfulness, is when a person tries to cultivate awareness often using an anchor such as the breath or sound. Mindfulness helps people observe their thinking as it is happening and while it is happening. It’s not about stopping thoughts or silence, rather, being aware of thoughts or feelings, and accepting them as they are. Mindfulness, if practised regularly, does often help people to sleep better because the skill of noticing and letting go is what you need to release distracting thoughts when the lights go out.
Then there’s meditation. There’s often an overlap between mindfulness and meditation. However, meditation can often provide a different experience to mindfulness. It depends! There are so many different kinds of meditation, including guided meditations, which can allow you to experience insights or cultivate more compassion.
Then there are mindfulness and meditation sessions that can specifically help with sleep, including something called hypnogogic mindfulness, which helps you to retain awareness as you fall asleep. There’s also Yoga Nidra, which is another form of relaxation which can aid sleep and help with insomnia.
Hypnosis and sleep hypnosis is different from mindfulness and traditional meditation in that positive suggestions are given, with a specific goal in mind, while a person is in a relaxed state. For example, the sleep hypnosis session you will find in our sleep sessions are very similar to what you’d experience in hypnotherapy and are designed to bring your mind and body into a relaxed state. Once there, we offer some positive suggestions and approaches to support your sleep.
Clementine also helps people find relaxation and we do so using suggestion, imagery and metaphor rather than cultivating full awareness, which is associated with mindfulness. In our hypnosis for sleep sessions, we give constant guidance and help people to a pattern in the skill using visualisations, hypnotherapeutic suggestions, metaphor and story. So you don’t need to do anything in particular, apart from lie back, relax and listen to the session – and fall asleep.
How to get to sleep using hypnosis
How can Clementine help with sleep hypnosis?
The best way is to make a habit of listening to a session as part of your night-time routine when you get into bed. It’s a bit like having your very own sleep hypnotherapist or sleep hypnotherapy session – by your bedside.
Many people are on the lookout for tips for sleeping or how to get to sleep fast. Sleep routines are important for high quality sleep. We have routines already, it’s just that they’re not always that helpful. If you get into bed and automatically check your phone for emails, this is part of your routine, and it may well be keeping you from some good shut-eye.
One of the key ideas we had when developing the Clementine sessions was that we wanted to help people integrate healthy practices into their existing routines, rather than giving busy people even more work to do in order to be well. That period when you wind down at the end of the day ready for sleep is a prime example of how we can help with this.
Most people do something between the moment they climb into bed and when they fall asleep (ahem!). This could be reading or listening to an audiobook. But for many people, that time will be filled with worrying, planning, ruminating, fretting. In other words, anxiety-inducing thinking is, for a lot of people, a part of their sleep routine.
Listening to a Clementine recording at that time, rather than worrying, is a way to substitute in a better, healthier and calmer way to spend those moments. By doing this repeatedly, you will be creating a new and better sleep routine, training your mind to associate bed with a calm, and soothing voice rather than nervous chatter.
What is the importance of sleep?
Sleep helps the brain so that we can recover and regenerate. During sleep, the brain can process information, consolidate memory, and enable us to learn and function effectively during the daytime*. This is why we are encouraged to get a good night’s sleep in the run-up to a job interview or big event, rather than staying awake all night to prepare.
Whilst we sleep, our brain is not only strengthening memories but it also reorganises them, picking out the emotional details and helping us produce new insights and creative ideas.
Sleep affects our ability to use language, sustain attention, understand what we are reading, and summarise what we are hearing. If we compromise on our sleep, we compromise on our performance, our mood, and our relationships. Sleep has also been shown to combat depression and protect the immune system. Therefore, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders can not only cause us to stay awake at night, affecting mental health but can also cause physical health problems.
SOURCE: Mental Health Foundation, 2011: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/MHF-Sleep-Report-2011.pdf
How to get to sleep and increase sleep quality
It’s important to have a good sleep routine and good sleep hygiene. Our Clementine sleep sessions train the mind in healthier thought patterns and perspectives. Here are some tips on how to get sleep and ways to have good sleep hygiene:
Create a calming sleep routine
- Wind down at the same time each night
- Wake up at the same time each morning
- Budget 30-60 mins before going to bed as a wind-down period. Lower the lights, avoid screens, avoid work and other stressful distractions, begin lowering your body temperature because being too hot can impede sleep
- Use light filters on screens where possibly to reduce blue light exposure
- Build in habits for calm (e.g. listen to a Clementine recording, try some light stretching, read).
- Have a warm bath
Build in good daytime habits
- Take regular exercise
- Spend time outdoors in the sunlight
- Have an early cut off time for caffeine (preferably nothing caffeinated afternoon)
- Cut down on alcohol and smoking
- Avoid eating late. If you need to eat within a couple of hours of bedtime, have light snacks, low in sugar.
Optimise your sleep environment
- Crack a window. Fresh air/lower temperatures are conducive with better sleep
- Block out the light with blackout blinds
- Reduce noise - consider using white noise machine or earplugs
- Splurge on decent bedding and mattress.
How does hypnotherapy help me to sleep?
Hypnotherapy is a great way to slip into deep sleep meditation. It helps you to learn how to fall asleep and find good sleep. Sleep hypnosis teaches people how to get to sleep and how to sleep better by offering guided sleep hypnosis. Ultimately, it helps to get to sleep fast and improve your sleep hygiene.
How does Clementine help?
Clementine helps with all of the above. Our sleep hypnotherapy sessions help you to train yourself to relax both physically and mentally. You learn about healthy thought patterns. At the same time, you practice the skill of recognising and letting go of or reframing negative thought patterns. These guided sleep hypnosis sessions can become part of a healthy sleep routine. These sleep hypnotherapy sessions include hypnotherapeutic suggestions for better sleep, sleep music to relax, tips for sleeping and ways to achieve good sleep.
Stages Of Sleep
What are the stages of sleep?
Stage 1: Non-REM Sleep (Alpha)
This is the first stage of sleep which is also known as the hypnagogic. It’s very light sleep, and it’s often accompanied by alpha brain wave patterns of relaxed wakefulness. The most recognisable aspect of stage 1 sleep is the dreamy hallucinations that flash and fade before our mind’s eye as we drift off. Sometimes we will jolt or jerk during this phase. It lasts around 10 minutes.
Stage 2: Non-REM Sleep (Theta)
Most people will experience this as a light but dreamless sleep. Your body temperature drops and you’ve now moved from the semi-conscious phase of Stage 1 Sleep and into the blackout stage of sleep. However, you are yet to start dreaming.
Stage 3: Non-REM Sleep (Delta)
This is deep sleep. Your brain begins producing delta brain waves and you enter into the deepest level of dreamless sleep. Stage 3 is restorative sleep. It’s the state we release HGH (human growth hormone), repair our cells and recharge the batteries.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
This isn’t called stage 4, it’s just known as REM sleep. This is where your body becomes paralysed (to stop you from acting out your dreams) and your brain becomes highly active, and your dream. Although some dream imagery can occasionally seep into all stages of sleep it’s REM where you dream most abundantly. REM sleep is an important part of your sleep cycle because it stimulates the areas of your brain that are essential for learning and making or retaining memories.
Why is REM sleep important?
Many people believe that dreams are a gateway for understanding their feelings, thoughts, behaviours, motives and values. The dreams we have in REM sleep are associated with an abundance of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that transmits signals within the brain) that helps to direct our attention to important things in our environment. Both dreams and hallucinations involve deregulation of dopamine production.
REM sleep is important because it allows us to process our experiences in waking life. The most well-known theory comes from the Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. According to Freud, dreams are subconscious wishes. He believed that the images, thoughts and emotions experienced in a dream were attempts by our unconscious to resolve a conflict in waking life and that the process of dreaming allowed for an interaction between the unconscious and the conscious.
Sleep and dream neuroscience: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
On average we sleep around 8 hours a night (although the amount of time people sleep varies greatly!). Our sleep is made up of sleep cycles. The stages of sleep play a part in allowing your mind and body to wake feeling refreshed. Understanding your sleep cycles can help you understand how the quality of sleep can impact your health.
A sleep cycle lasts about 90 - 110 minutes, and during a single night, we may experience four or five recurring cycles of non-REM and REM sleep. During that time we move through four stages of non-REM sleep before we begin REM sleep (dream sleep).
Everyone is different and your sleep cycles might work differently, but effectively, the key thing to remember is that the first half of your night is mainly deep sleep with short dream periods and the second half is mainly dreaming with not much entry into a deep sleep.
How can Clementine help with sleep?
Clementine’s sleep hypnosis sessions help you to let go of or reframing negative thought patterns. These sleep sessions are a way to help you sleep. Our guided sleep hypnosis sessions can become part of a healthy sleep routine. They include hypnotherapeutic suggestions for better sleep, sleep music to relax, tips for sleeping and ways to achieve good sleep. Their main goal? How to fall asleep, how to sleep, how to sleep better and how to find good sleep.
Top 10 Tips for Good Sleep Hygiene
- Create a relaxing routine before bed
- Go to bed and wake up in the morning at the same time
- Spend up to an hour winding down before bed
- Avoid screens, work and other stressful distractions
- Listen to a Clementine recording
- Avoid alcohol and smoking and eating late
- Keep temperature moderate (not too hot)
- Block out the light with blackout blinds
- Reduce any noise with white noise or earplugs
- Make sure you have decent bedding and mattress.
Why can't you get to sleep?
1. In some cases, there are medical reasons for lack of sleep. If you’re worried, always consult your GP, or primary care physician for US readers, to rule out any physiological causes of insomnia.
2. Next, check if there are any practical changes you may need to make. Is your bedroom too hot or too cold? Is there light or noise pollution where you sleep. Or is there anything else that might be distracting you at night? Alcohol, smoking or caffeine during the day may have an adverse effect on sleep, so check these things. Do you take naps during the day? This may reduce your need for sleep at night, so you may need to commit to a week away from napping to get back into a better routine.
3. Stress is probably the most common cause of poor sleep. Increased arousal levels at night can prevent people from falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping deeply. The cruel knock-on effect of this is that poor sleep can negatively affect stress management and emotional regulation the following day, which increases anxiety and reduces sleep further.
Clementine sessions seek to relieve stress in a number of ways, by training the skill of relaxation, training the mind to let go of stressful thoughts, training the mind to think calmer thoughts, using hypnotherapeutic suggestions to boost self-esteem and confidence, pattern in positive self-beliefs and to practice healthy perspectives. In this way, what we offer is much more than just a sleep aid. It’s a holistic hypnotherapeutic package to improve people’s sense of autonomy, self-control, self-acceptance and mental resilience.
How can Clementine help you to sleep quicker?
Assuming there’s no medical or environmental reason, people who struggle to fall asleep quickly and easily are probably dealing with intrusive, anxious or otherwise arousing thoughts before sleep. As your mind engages with worry, the adrenaline kicks in and prevents sleep. Clementine helps in two ways here:
1. You can listen to a session instead and engage with calmer thoughts as a result - replacing any worry with healthy mental activity.
2. The sessions train the mind to think calmer thoughts and if this becomes part of your sleep routine, over time, that state of calm can become associated with bed/bedtime, which makes it easier to let go and drift off.