It has happened to all of us:  turning around in bed, getting up, maybe reading a little, or watching some TV, making ourselves a nice relaxing cup of tea,…getting up again,…Then more turning around, still unable to fall asleep and, finally, out of exhaustion, we finally “drop off.”
We have also occasionally fallen asleep and then, in the middle of the nigth, woken up, unable to go back to sleep. We may even ask ourselves, “What’s going on here?”
We are suffering from insomnia, the result of worry, fears, anxiety, and badly functioning brain wave patterns.
These experiences ( inability to get to sleep and inability to maintain sleep) are the two most common forms of insomnia. When either or both of these conditions become chronic, they can easily affect our ability to cope and our capacity to effectively function in our everyday activities.
To understand what is going on, it will help us see what a person that has no difficulty to go to sleep does following the 4 stages of sleep:
1. Thinking:
When we get into bed, we start thinking about the events of the day or, what will happen tomorrow, or any other things.
2. Fantasy
Whether the person is consciously aware of it or not, his thoughts eventually turn to thoughts ASSOCIATED with relaxation. (Perhaps thought of a future vacation or activity in a place that person already associates with feeling relaxed.)
3. Hypnoidal
As both the mind and the body relax, the muscles release tensions, and the person enters a light stage of hypnosis, known as hypnoidal. When a person enters this state of mind, he is still conscious, yet he also experiences time distortion and some amnesia. We actually must enter this hypnoidal stage because it is what enables us to attain the last stage. It is the amnesia and time distortion aspects of the hypnoidal stage that make it impossible to identify the moment of transition from hypnoidal to unconscious sleep. We simply “drift” from one to the other.
4. Unconscious Sleep
We are not consciously aware of anything going on around us.
This is what people who fall asleep easily  do. Now, those who have problems getting to sleep usually have great difficulty transitioning from thinking to fantasy, or simply stay in the thinking stage way too long, due to worries or because the person doesn’t know how to control his mind.
The strategy for someone having difficulty initially getting to sleep is to skip the thinking stage altogether. Therefore, when the person gets into bed to go to sleep, he needs to begin visualizing or imagining the fantasy stage (thoughts associated with relaxation).
One way to develop a fantasy stage is to reflect upon some real experience where you really were feeling relaxed. This could be when you were on a vacation or involved in some activity that you associate with relaxation.  It is important that you use your own experience because you already associate that occasion with relaxation. It is most important that you stay in or maintain that fantasy thought process. That will eventually draw you into the hypnoidal stage and then into unconscious sleep.
Another way of understanding how we get to sleep is to recognize that the combination of the fantasy stage  and the hypnoidal stage result in the person actually hypnotizing himself. A person may not be consciously aware that that is actually what he is doing, but, in fact, it is.
Step One is to make sure your body is relaxed. Relaxation occurs when there is an absence of tension in the muscles. A good technique is to sequentially tense and release the muscles in the different areas of the body. You can start relaxing all the muscles from your head and go down to all the parts of your body.
The next steps replicate the physiological changes experienced by anyone entering hypnosis. Taking deep breath, swallowing and rolling the eyes causing the eyelids to “flutter,” replicating the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) of sleep.
For some people following these steps will be relatively easy and won’t need external help. Others, less aware of their processes, will need help as their brain has become an expert at having insomnia and it does not know how to do it any differently.

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Posted in Uncategorized, September 23rd, 2010 | Eva Palmer


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