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Tips to getting a better night's sleep

Sleep environment can have a huge impact on restful night's sleep
Sleep environment can have a huge impact on restful night's sleep
Photo by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

As a hypnotherapist, I've seen many clients that have sought out hypnosis and coaching to help them sleep. There are a couple of things that I've found interesting. One, problems around sleep can come from a diverse range of triggers. Two, options to help people suffering from sleep problems are plenty and what works for one person may not work for another. Three, hypnosis and coaching can help people with these problems if they're willing to follow through with the process and certain lifestyle changes that are needed to find success. Four, sleep problems can stem from even deeper issues that may require help from other medical professionals in medicine or psychological expertise.

The first step to getting help with sleep problems is to identify the problem. Are you falling asleep but waking up periodically throughout the night? Are you unable to fall asleep hours after you go to bed? Do you have problems keeping a sleep schedule? Identifying the problem is a good first step. You may discover you need to see a medical professional instead of a coach or hypnotherapist. While hypnosis can help with many things physical as well as mental it is not going to be able to fix everything all the time. For example; if you are waking up countless times in the middle of the night needing to visit the bathroom your best bet would be to seek help from a physician first. Sometimes hypnotherapists and medical professionals work with client together to help overcome the problems around lack of sleep.

The next step is to identify the triggers. What is causing the problem? For example; if you're going to bed but having issues falling asleep what is going on in your mind that is keeping you awake? Are you worrying about something? Is there mind chatter? Is there something wrong with your sleep environment? What is your pre-bed routine? In one case, a client I worked with was struggling with falling asleep. There were a couple of things in the environment (like a television in the bedroom) and pre-bed routine (like exercising 30 minutes before bed). Exercise is a great way to tire the body but thirty minutes before bed is probably not a good idea because the adrenaline and other hormones that flood ones system after a workout can keep the body from falling asleep. This client moved their workout time earlier in the day, moved the television to spare bedroom and when they struggled with sleep listened to a sleep hypnosis tape to help them fall asleep easier. Again, not all things are as easy to fix but identifying the trigger that is keeping you from a goodnight's sleep can give you a good start in formulating a plan to fix the problem.

Which brings me to the next tip. Make a plan. All my clients, no matter what issue they come to me for help with, learn to make effective goals and plans. I'm a firm believer in creating a blue print when building a solid foundation and spectacular house. Would you build a house without one? Think of the goals and plans as a blueprint.

You've already built a good foundation with step one and two. You've identified the issue and the trigger. Now you need to create specific action steps to bring about a positive solution. Identify long term and short term action steps to really put the plan into perspective and set time frames as to when you want to achieve these steps. The average time it takes to formulate a habit is 21 days (that's an average but in my experience it's been pretty accurate). Build in daily, weekly, and monthly check points. Make sure each action addresses the triggers and will help you accomplish your ultimate goal.

Create a reward system. Something many people forget it to reward themselves for accomplishing goals (small or large). This is an important step. It keeps you motivated to get through the tunnel and find the light at the end (or in this case get through the lighted tunnel to the dark one ahead for better sleep).

I'll leave you with one final tip for people struggling with mind chatter or worrying when trying to sleep. Many times, an active brain at bed time can be linked to your conscious and subconscious mind trying to work through issues. I've found that many times people with this trigger live very active lives and the only real time they have to deflate and go over the day's events, worry about issues that are important, or just try and get feelings and thoughts straight are right before bed. If this is your problem start a nighttime journal. 30 minutes before bed write out anything that comes to mind as you're deflating and reflecting on the day or your concerns. This becomes a sort of data dump and your conscious and subconscious minds feel more reassured that you'll address it later - but you will need to address it later otherwise this tip won't work for long. Set aside thirty minutes in your morning ritual to address the concerns you wrote down in your nighttime journal and you'll be surprised at how much this can help. Many times just writing out your concerns helps you to fix a problem that thinking struggles over.

It is also worth mentioning once again. Choose the medical or mental health professional that can best address your triggers. There are many doctors that will happily work in conjunction with hypnotherapists, coaches or other alternative health professionals if it is in the best interest of the patient/client and many hypnotherapists will ask what you've done to address the concern and if it sounds medical they will most likely refer you to seek additional help.

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