An approach to sleeping problems...

Postby Anthony Jacquin » Tue Nov 18, 2003 8:46 pm

Never mind clients who keep falling asleep when hypnotised, what is an effective approach for people that cannot sleep. I have only treated a couple of my clients for sleeping problems where the 'insomnia' itself was the central focus. More common the sleeping issue has been symptomatic of something else and that has taken prioroty in the treatment. But I would appreciate any advice in how to approach a client who's sole problem seems to be sleeplessness. Even looking at that last sentance is making me cringe that if I go down that road I am boxing myself in too early - but you know what I mean, how to treat an insomniac.

I am familiar with the kind of metaphor and direct suggestions I will use and will likely reframe the part responsible for the 'sleeping mechanism' but are there any specific exercises tasks that I can set them that you have found effective. I am thinking there must be some way of double binding or strongly anchoring deep sleep to a pillow or an exercise of the mind.

As ever your suggestions are appreciated.

No sleeping or hypnotised emoticons, shame.

Ant
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Postby Mark Tyrrell » Wed Nov 19, 2003 12:18 pm

Hi Anthony.

The msot reliable way to go to sleep is to have a drop in core body temperature so wearing socks and having a hot water bottle whilst not necessarily adding to someone's romantic allure are good sleeping tips as they encourage the 'mini-hybernation' state of sleep to begin. Also after a hot bath the body cools rapidly which can encourage sleep on set. I'm sure you run through all the basic 'sleep hygiene' stuff with people such as no exercise, no day time sleeping, internet, tv, caffeine etc before bedtime. A hot milky drink encourages serotonin production which also increases levels of deep sleep.

I teach Mrs Erickson 'three things induction' as it mirrors what the brain does as it drifts off and also you are not 'trying to relax' rather relaxation is a by-product of this technique. And this last point is really the crunch of insomnia. There are, as we all know, some things in life which the more you try the harder it gets (or as men may discover from time to time quite the opposite :!: ) Sleep is no exception. People talk about not being able to 'switch off", I re-frame the process of going to sleep as another part of the brain 'switching on" and becoming more active. I ask people whether they feel a little anxious when they inagine bed time or their bedroom. If so then I seek to re-associate their bed and bed time to feelings of deep calm and rest. I encourage them to practice the three things induction whilst in bed and, if still awake after twenty minutes to get up (as they are awake anyway) and go some place coolish and not to bright and write down all they are thinking about for twenty minutes then back to bed for twenty minutes (or until they sleep) and then to continue this in order to train the brain to compartmentalise states so that internal focus in the bedroom, external focus in another room.

I also tell them to expect a couple of nights more of sleeplessness whilst they 'practice' this as you need to take off the 'Now I've paid a therapist, this was my last chance it has to work!' pressure from the person.

Mark
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