In spite of the fact that we spend around a third of our lives asleep, sleep is something that we often take for granted until we are unable to do it. The amount of sleep each individual needs varies throughout their life. Babies and young children need a lot more sleep than older adults.
Many people find that by the time they reach their 60's or 70's, the amount of sleep they need has dropped by up to several hours a day. The average time we sleep is often said to be about eight hours but this is only true for some people. There is a wide normal healthy sleep range. Some people sleep only four to six hours a day whereas others can sleep for as many as 10 or 12 hours a day. Both extremes are quite normal.
Why do we need sleep?
Sleep is so essential for your physical and mental well-being that you spend around a third of your life in bed! Sleep is a necessary part of life, however studies have shown that most people do not need very much sleep at all to be physically and mentally healthy. In Sleep research laboratories, it has been found that many people who suffer from insomnia actually sleep far more than they think.
Sometimes people who are actually sleeping and are in a light level of sleep can actually be dreaming that they are awake. This information may help allay fears that you are not sleeping at all. It is also important to know that sleep deprivation does not have catastrophic impacts on the brain or body. It is possible to function effectively with very little sleep each night.
What is insomnia and sleep disturbance?
Insomnia, or inability to sleep, is something that many people notice from time to time. Insomnia may start after an isolated incident or an upsetting life event, or it can be related to a feature of a person’s lifestyle. Various factors in your current life can worsen sleep and cause insomnia.
Sleep disturbance is the perception of difficulty falling asleep, or in maintaining an adequate amount of sleep. You may wake up earlier than you would like, and the sleep you do achieve is not refreshing.
At times, sleep can be disrupted for a variety of different reasons – often this occurs when you’re feeling worried or stressed. Worrying or panicking about the consequences of not sleeping is also very common. One of the most common fears that i come across either in my Fear 2 Freedom workshop or when coaching clients are that the person’s performance at home or at work will plummet.
Sometimes the person fears that they will become irritable and unable to cope. Sometimes they worry that either their brain or their body will be harmed by a lack of sleep. It may last just a few days (eg jetlag) or a few weeks (eg exam stress, redundancy, break up of relationship, grief, etc) but when it is due to anxiety, sleep difficulties can last for several weeks.
Sleeping problems are common and affect large numbers of people at some time during their life.
Did you know that people aged 60 and over tend to sleep 1.5 hours less per 24 hour period than younger adults aged 30 and below? Surveys suggest as many as one in three people is affected.
Let me share with you my 12 Top Secrets to overcoming sleep difficulties and start having a good night sleep:
Secret #1 Prepare yourself for a good night sleep.
The time leading up to sleep can be very important. Try to build in a “wind-down” time when you are less active. Physical over-activity (e.g. exercising), or eating too much just before bed may keep you awake. Sometimes people read in bed, or watch television while lying in bed. This sometimes can help them wind down, but for many people it can make them become more alert – therefore adding to sleep problems.
Secret #1: Get into a routine.
Go to bed and get up at a regular time. Avoid drinking too much coffee, tea, hot chocolate and soft drinks, which contain caffeine – around 5 cups or glasses a day of caffeine-containing drinks should be the maximum. Switch to decaffeinated drinks or water for drinks beyond this.
Secret #2 Clear Your Head.
If you take you all of your thoughts, worries to bed, your mind will stay in alpha zone and wont be able to descend to delta state. Take pen and paper, your i-pad and make a dump of your thoughts and everything else that is keeping you awake i.e. Whats keeping me up? What is it that i am worrying about? What do i keep forgetting to do? etc. For each critical issue that might come up and is on your priority list also write down the solution. On completion of this exercise and go to bed.
Secret 4: Go back to Counting Sheep.
From an early age i learned that one of the most simple methods to help fall asleep is to concentrate on something that occupies your brain and blocks out random thoughts which often keep you awake. As a child i learned that closing my eyes and starting to count how many fluffy white and how many fluffy black sheep were in a flock, contentedly munching or snoozing quietly on the grass helps falling into sleep.
If you fall asleep soon after going to bed, and snooze throughout the night, you have high sleep efficiency (eg 90%). If you toss-and-turn, finding it difficult to nod off, or wake several times during the night, however, you have a low sleep efficiency (eg 70%).
Secret #5 Meditate.
Meditation is known to benefit our body, mind, spirit, and in helping you getting a good night sleep. Just like everything else we do, your body needs time to learn a new habit, so keep practising, it takes 30 days to anchor a new habit and belief. As you become great at meditation you can recharge your body in 5 to 10 minutes. The best times to meditate is in the morning or when you go to sleep.
The simplest way to start your evening meditation to help you fall asleep and overcome insomnia is through focusing your mind on your breath, close your eyes, on a count of four take a deep breath in and exhale on a count of eight, start counting from 100 and continue maintaining this rhythm of breathing down until you reach 1. If you don't get it right first time, keep practising.
Get better sleep with the sleep maximizer meditation. Whether you have trouble getting to sleep or fall asleep easily, this MP3 that my friend Daniel is offering for a free download enables you to get the most from your sleep by enabling you to relax before falling asleep.You can download this free meditation from Daniel Browne website at http://energyequationbook.com/
Secret# 6 Use your Imagination.
Our brain responds to Imagination, as you close your eyes make the intention to create your perfect holiday in your mind where you can relax, recharge, enjoy and energise whilst you sleep. Use your imagination and take yourself there when you close your eyes, the more descriptive you are the better it is for you.
Secret #7: Avoid Nicotine.
It is scientifically proven that Nicotine in cigarettes can also cause sleeplessness. Avoid smoking just before bed.
Secret #8: Avoid napping during the day.
If you are in a habit of napping more than an hour during the day, this kind of behaviour upsets your body clock, this is similar as when our body experiences Jet-lag, remember it takes you few days to get back your body clock back to normal, same way keep practising on this until you create a new behaviour.
Secret #9: Watch your alcohol intake.
Alcohol causes sleep to be shallow and unrefreshing and can cause you to waken to use the toilet.
Secret #10 Sleeping environment.
Consider the surroundings in which your sleep (noise, light levels, temperature e.g. too hot or cold, and also the comfort of your bed).
Secret #11 If you don’t get off to sleep, get up, leave your bedroom.
If you find yourself tossing and turning, get up and leave your bedroom until you feel “sleepy-tired”, read a book, put a meditation music on, then go to bed again.
Secret # 12 Change the way you think about sleep.
What is your sleep psychology, are you one of the people who thinks that you need 8 hours of sleep to function and feel energised? If you are, think again, this can have detrimental effect on your well-being how you think about sleep has a big impact on the quality of sleep you have and how tired you will feel.
Now it's down to you. My challenge to you is to implement at least 3 of the 10 Secrets above into your life for two months and see the difference it makes. Life is a about making a choice, choose a good night sleep! To read more check my HealOneSelf blog for more articles and step by step guide to helping you in your journey of living a healthy, happy and abundant life.
P.S I am running a great workshop on 30/31 March, Be Yourself, Change Your World, that i
know you'll absolutely love. It will take you on a journey of inner discovery. For further information and how to book please click HERE!
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© 2013 Tony Jeton Selimi . All rights reserved. Creator of Heart Centred Approach Methodology, Teacher of Inner Wisdom, Chakra Healer and an Intuitive Personal Coach that helps you gain Confidence, overcome your Fears and align yourself and your life purpose with your heart desire.