Sleep is fundamental to survival. Proper sleep boosts the immune system, refreshes and revitalises you for the following day. When you go into dream sleep the brain closes off all unfinished emotionally aroused patterns from throughout that day. Some people may think that they never dream or that they never sleep but all those people do sleep and dream. Sleeping and dreaming is so fundamental to life that without it people would die. On average people nowadays sleep for about 20% less time each night than people did a hundred years ago. This reduction in sleep has a dramatic effect on health. Sleep deprivation causes many accidents and increases the risk of psychiatric problems. Without sleep people find it increasingly difficult to function correctly, they have poorer memory and co-ordination skills etc…
Insomnia is probably the most common sleep disorder. It is often caused by excessive worrying. This can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. It also makes you dream too much which then makes you wake up tired (see depression section). Stopping worrying during the day will help to lift the insomnia. It will also help to stop nightmares (it also will help if you reduce anxiety-see anxiety section). Many sleep problems from night terrors (which occur in non-dream sleep and the sufferer awakens with no memory of the incident) to nightmares (bad dreams).
To help improve sleep it is advisable to make sure that you don’t have a clock near the bed that you can see as seeing how long you are awake for can lead to worrying about it which then makes it harder to sleep. To help you to relax and sleep at night you could purchase a relaxation CD to focus on as you go to sleep or you can learn to relax. To relax you could learn to tense and relax your muscle groups from head to feet in time with your breathing. Tensing up as you breathe in to the count of 7 then letting the muscles relax as you breathe out to the count of 11. Then pausing briefly to get a sense of that relaxation and beginning to get an idea of a pleasant ‘special place’ (don’t think of it as a ‘special place’ if this wording is wrong for you, find something that is right for you) forming in your mind that can become like a brief waiting room before you pass into sleep. After pausing you can then move onto the next muscle group (the neck for example) again breathing in to the count of 7 as you tense then out to the count of 11 as you relax, then pausing again. Doing this each night will retrain your brain to relax when it is time to go to sleep at night. Currently your brain will have been expecting the night to involve worrying or distracting thoughts etc… Some people may find that within a night or two of doing this they are sleeping properly others may take a week or a little longer before they regularly sleep well throughout the night.
Some tips to have the best chance of rapidly sleeping well; if you find you are in bed for a while and still not asleep then get up and go to a dark, cool room and sit there for 30 minutes. Always wake up early (don’t lie in). If possible don’t do shift work. Don’t watch TV or use a computer within an hour of going to bed. Don’t eat or drink too much within 2 hours of going to bed. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and other substances within 3 hours of going to bed. Avoid going to bed drunk. Have a hot bath 30 minutes before going to bed. Don’t exercise within 2 hours of going to bed. Another idea is attempt to stay awake for an hour longer than the time you would’ve normally ended up falling asleep. Many sleep problems are due to excessive worry or excessive emotional arousal. Learning to relax and be calm will help improve the quality and quantity of sleep you get. You can also write down everything that is on your mind before you fall asleep.
Drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills to help sleep is generally not advisable because these disrupt sleep patterns, but if prescribed you should follow what your Doctor advises or seek further medical advice. They may help someone get to sleep quicker but they disrupt sleep that goes on a few hours later. This disruption upsets the balance of rapid eye movement sleep and deep slow wave sleep. Due to receiving less rapid eye movement sleep you don’t close off all of the emotional arousing patterns from the day before so you get a build-up of open patterns requiring more R.E.M sleep the next night and then more the night after that etc… This can make people feel worse during the day and be more prone to anxiety problems as the brain is already overloaded with emotional arousal. They are likely to also get very emotional very quickly at almost nothing and not know why. Deep sleep is required for healing. So with reduced deep sleep they don’t do the required amount of healing on their body that they need to be doing. The deep sleep is involved in keeping the immune system charged up and in growth so both of these areas will also be affected so people may fall ill more frequently due to lowered resistance to illnesses.
Below is a self help track to help you fall asleep and get improved nights sleep that can be played on this site or downloaded, there is also a comments section where you can share your experiences, comments and progress. If you know anyone else that would benefit from this article or self help track please share this article with them.
A re-centring mindfulness meditation with Dan Jones. Be guided through a mindfulness meditation to recenter your mind and body. Take time for yourself to give yourself back some balance and to move on from the stresses of the day. Develop the ability to learn how to keep emotional levels under control, to be mindful and to explore guided attachment, being non-attached to the negative and attaching to positive and health and well-being in your mind and body. Promote healthy thinking, a healthy mind, a healthy body and boost your immune system and inner healing response and well-being.
This track is part of Dan Jones Mindfulness Meditation Series, available for download from Amazon, iTunes and other MP3 download sites.
Use the track regularly to develop the ability to do this meditation for yourself without the need for the track. Ideally every 90-120 minutes it is healthy to do a brief meditation like this to help with a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
If this track has been helpful to you please pass on that helpfulness to others by sharing this video with anyone you think could benefit from it.
A process to help you quit smoking. This quit smoking process is interactive. The audio of this video can be found on Amazon MP3 Downloads, iTunes and other Music Downloads sites as ‘Quit Smoking Process’, as can a range of other self help, training and relaxation Mp3’s.
This process is a rapid process to help you to quit smoking, it is less than ten minutes long and for many people just listening to this once for less than ten minutes will be enough to help you stop smoking. For others because it is interactive they may need to listen a few times to get an idea of the process they are following before successfully quitting smoking. And some people may benefit from listening a few times to quit smoking, and may need to listen a few times in the future.
People often have relapses, this is normal and OK, the important thing is how do you respond to relapses. If it is to instantly think ‘that’s it, I am a smoker again now’ then you will probably go back to smoking rather than seeing it as an isolated incident. It is normal that life throws you into situations where you respond with an old pattern that you had spent years using, rather than responding with the new pattern you now have. When this happens it is best to chalk it up as a one-off incident and start the next day a non-smoker again, and look at what led to that one-off situation, whether it was unusually stressful, an unexpected event that you hadn’t previously planned for, or some other reason. Once you identify this you can think about what you will do in the future differently if that type of event happens again to ensure you respond in a new way that helps you remain a non-smoker, rather than drifting back to responding in the old way.
Please share your comments and experiences below, it is always nice to get feedback on when you quit smoking and how long you have been a non-smoker for, and how you moved passed any blips or bumps in the road to continue as a non-smoker. Please share you story below, and share this page with others that also may be interested in quitting smoking.
OCD is often linked to ritualism and addiction. It is usually to do with anxiety or insecurity (see anxiety section). The behaviour is often very ritualistic and if it is not carried out or the obsessive thought is fought against then it can cause feelings of anxiousness or uncomfortableness. Normally people with OCD have one or more of their basic needs not being met. When these get met it will help the OCD lift.
The most common compulsions in adults are:
- Thoughts of contamination (which can lead to obsessive washing or cleaning)
- Doubt (E.g. Whether you have locked doors or turned off switches)
- Thoughts of having physical symptoms
- Symmetry (straightening pictures, lining pens up on a desk
- Aggressive thoughts
Compulsions are usually carried out to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress. Often it is believed the compulsive behaviour will prevent something unwanted occurring. OCD affects not just the person carrying out the behaviour but also those around them. When a compulsion is carried out the person enters a trance as the compulsion takes control. This trance can be triggered by specific situations, thoughts, feelings or times of the day or by a heightened level of tiredness.
To help remove the compulsion, clients can imagine watching a screen with someone calmly NOT carrying out the compulsive behaviour. Notice what they look like, how relaxed they appear, how they know that person is relaxed. Notice how well everything goes before during and after they hadn’t carried out the compulsive behaviour. Notice what else is better for them as they continue to behave differently. Then take a few moments to relax deeply and gently into that person in the screen. Seeing through their eyes, hearing what they would hear. ‘Try on’ their behaviour and beliefs. ‘Pretend’ what it is like to be them. Enjoy the feelings. Notice how much calmer they feel. Notice the benefits of being this way. Go to some old familiar situations where they had carried out the compulsive behaviour and notice the difference in how they respond to those situations as this person. Notice how calm they feel, how unbullied they feel to be going through the situation being the one in control, calm and relaxed. Then imagine being this person in some future situations when they would expect to have carried out that old compulsive behaviour. Notice how pleasurable it is to respond in this more desirable way. Tell the client to practice this regularly. If occasionally they still get the old compulsive feeling which can happen for a short while as they adjust to not doing that old behaviour suggest they could do this experiment – each time they feel the need to carry out the compulsion treble it. E.g., if they have to check everything is locked 3 times before they leave the house then check it 9 times. Tell them to stick to this whenever they feel the need to carry out the compulsive behaviour. This won’t be appropriate for all cases but if you can set a task that will make the compulsion a chore or change it in some way it is more likely to lead to the compulsion stopping.