Interrupted sleep patterns arise from a variety of causes: changes in the work schedule, sickness, travel schedule, a new bed. Insomnia - a broad term covering poor or inadequate sleep caused by difficulty in falling asleep, waking up frequently in the night, or rising too early - may be caused by a number of factors, but it only becomes a problem if it is recurrent over an extended period of time. For instance, once you have adjusted to that new bed, it may be time to examine other causes. Insomnia may be a result of many factors, some of which are just basic biology, others of the Middle Mind.
Your hypnotherapist will ask a number of questions initially in order to pinpoint the problem. Were there life events that coincided with the onset of the insomnia? What is your eating schedule like? (Eating too late can be a problem.) Are you consuming caffeine? When and how much? Are you ingesting other stimulants? What medications are you taking? What is actually contained in your supplement regimen? Do you use alcohol? Do you nap during the day? When and how much? The therapist will have practical advice regarding the sleep setting, the timing of daily activities, and the impact of your foods as he or she explores your habits.
Once these questions are addressed, the hypnotherapist will look at issues of anxiety and stress we mentioned in Chapter 21. Often, if insomnia proves to be anxiety-related (it very often has at least some component of anxiety involved), resolving the anxiety through hypnotherapy can correct the sleep issue.
Once the therapist has explored the history of the problem, he or she has a number of tools for use during hypnosis. Everyone understands how hard it is to try to think or will ourselves to sleep. The hypnotherapist may turn the tables on this “law of reverse” effect, the idea that the harder we try to do something, the more difficult it is.
The hypnotherapist may use techniques to help your mind ignore distractions such as street sounds, noisy clocks, or clicking ceiling fan.
A technique called dissociation may be involved in your session. Here, you will use the part of your mind associated with your problem to break down the “program” and change it.
Finally, the therapist will introduce the client to self-hypnosis. Here, clients are taught to take themselves to relaxed and near-sleep states of mind with just a few steps. Personally, I fall asleep easily at night. But if a power nap is called for, and I am a little too amped up, I can do a little self-hypnosis, quickly relaxing and boom! Forty winks, just like that – I am refreshed and ready to go.