I expect every single person has had the experience sometime of a rough night's sleep. According to findings from Aviva's Well-Being Report, a third (31%) of us say they have insomnia and almost half (48%) agree they don’t get the right amount of sleep.
The last few months I have seen a particularly high number of clients with sleep problems. Some people have problems falling asleep and for others the problem is staying asleep. You don't need me to tell you how important good sleep is for both mind and body.
I've experienced insomnia myself and know how desperate you can feel to get a good night sleep. Often anxiety and depression can affect your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and your sleep quality, and so sometimes treating these issues is required. I specialise in treating insomnia and found hypnotherapy very beneficial in improving sleep quality, even in those who are long-term sufferers. I remember a client of mine saying she had always been a bad sleeper and expected that she would never sleep well, though after a few sessions her sleep gradually improved and she was soon sleeping between 7 and 8 hours each night.
I have found a combination of hypnotherapy, behavioural changes and sleep training to be extremely effective in treating sleep issues. Read on to find out some simple tips to improve your sleep:
Do not sleep during the day
Although you may feel like sleeping during the day if you've slept badly, this will not help you to sleep well the following night. The worse your sleep the previous night, the more likely you are to fall asleep and to sleep deeply the following night.
Keep to a good bedtime routine
Try not to alter the time you wake up and go to bed. Keeping to roughly the same time each day helps promote a good nights sleep. You can't expect to lie in until midday one day and then wake up early the next day. Sure, some people can get away with it, though if you have sleep problems, it's best to not alter your routine by more than 30 minutes.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Some clients of mine have tried to use alcohol to help them sleep, though it's not healthy long-term and in the short term it decreases your sleep quality. Avoid drinking caffeine and other stimulants at least 5 hours before bedtime, as these will only help keep you awake. If you wake up to use the toilet, it may also be worth avoiding drinking anything for a few hours before bed.
Keep your bedroom for sleep (and sex) only
Your brain needs to understand that your bedroom is a place of relaxation and sleep. When we spend time in bed doing things other than this, such as watching TV, worrying, texting or talking to people on the phone or eating, your brain associates your bed with stimulating activities. You need to help your brain to associate your bedroom with sleep. Then you will naturally feel relaxed and be able to switch your mind off when getting into bed at night. It's fine to read for half an hour also in bed however, and in fact this can be beneficial in promoting sleep.
Don't go to bed early or stay in bed awake
This is often a pitfall people have fallen into: they think they need to go to bed earlier because they are tired or to give them extra time to get to sleep. This is counter-productive: you need to train your body to associate your bed (and your bedroom) with sleep, as we have just discussed. The percentage of time you spend in bed asleep should be about 85%. If you spend lots of time awake, your mind will be more likely to associate your bed with wakefulness. Therefore I often encourage people to go to bed later, rather than earlier. This will encourage your body to fall asleep faster.
Likewise, if you find you're taking more than half an hour to fall asleep, it's important to get up out of bed, rather than stay in bed and get stressed about it. Do something boring or calming, perhaps enjoy a calming chamomile tea, and then go back to bed after 20 or 30 minutes.
Try not to stress about sleep!
Easier said than done I know! Are you telling yourself you won't sleep or that you won't cope the next day if you don't sleep well? Is this really true? Is it impossible to have a good day after a bad night's sleep? I myself had a terrible night's sleep before my wedding, as I was so excited! However, the next day I was full of adrenaline and had a wonderful day despite the bad night, as I was on such a high. It's often our thoughts that make us feel bad the next day e.g. telling ourselves that it's the end of the world, or that you won't sleep well the following night.
Therefore examine your thoughts and ask yourself if there are some more helpful ways of thinking about it. Could you tell yourself that if you don't sleep, you might not feel great the next day, however you will cope and that you're probably sleep better the following night? Could you tell yourself that it's impossible to predict with 100% certainty what will happen in the future? If you are awake in bed, can you tell yourself that you can just use the time to relax, and that if you're not asleep you'll be at least resting until you do fall asleep.
If you need further help on improving your sleep, feel free to contact me and see how I can help you. I always give each client a free sleep hypnosis download and an information sheet with sleep tips - read more about how I can help you here.
*For further information on the research, see
Maria Hancock,, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist, Mindfulness Teacher, NLP Practitioner, MSc Health Psychology