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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Sleep Strategies | Hypnosis

In this fast paced on-the-go life we are all sucked into these days, it's a wonder Sleep is still a recognised priority.

Since childhood sleep has always been an issue. It's getting to sleep for me that never happens easily at the 'normal' time of night. I'm convinced my circadian rhythm is just not wired to go to sleep at a time that will let me naturally wake up feeling refreshed for an early morning start; I'm still in fight or flight mode. Whereas napping in the day at around 3pm is no problem at all and I can sleep deeply.

To quieten the internal chatter I use a few strategies I think others might find useful!

The mind is a very powerful entity. Our lifestyles and the environments around us make use tense and stressed; time ticks away quickly and I often feel I want to stay awake to savour the moment of lying down being still for once! This is of course counter-productive. I also find the minute I'm still, my brain likes to process and interrogate every detail of the day.
Why did she have to say it like that? Gee that was so embarrassing! 
Oh damn, I should have done that instead... 

...and on and on this constant chat continues. To combat this Hypnosis is the answer! Not the demon headmaster's (I miss that TV show!) creepy eyes or a you-are-getting-sleepy robotic voice. 
Hypnosis can come in different forms for desired results. On youtube, google or on the app store I search for: 
 "Guided Meditation" or "Guided Visualisations" 

Focusing on someone else's voice guiding me into different mind exercises is a great way to switch off the brain and prioritise relaxation. I have used so many different hypnosis tracks and many have their own desirable factors to help with different emotions or upcoming situations the next day. Even if you fall asleep listening to these tracks your subconscious is still keyed in to the hypnosis and so you can still reap it's benefits.

G U I D E D   M E D I T A T I O N

These generally help you to be aware of your breath. They might guide you through your body to mentally switch off any tension you are holding. They use counting to allow you to go deeper into relaxation feeling your body become heavier and they might site affirmations for you to increase confidence and erase self-doubt. These are good if anxieties are heightened on the eve of a performance or exam. All hypnosis meditations should not be 'listened to when operating heavy machinery'. I used to think 'well ok then, I won't use it when I'm next driving my fork-lift truck' but of course it means when driving a car!  Guided Meditations I recommend are:

This Scot has a really gentle, comforting voice. The backing music is peaceful and fulfilling and he has a plethora of different apps for different issues: Confidence, Relax, Deep Sleep, Stopping Smoking, Public Speaking to name a few. Each app is geared for each different subject but all give comfort and a feeling of security. I've used a lot of his apps I'd recommend 'Don't Panic', 'Relax', 'Deep Sleep' and 'Power Nap' (available through app stores, amazon and through his website). Some of his apps are free or 'lite' versions too so you can try his style out before you commit to paying for others.

I find this recording soothing and allows me to feel safe. When I'm gripped by anxieties I feel overwhelmed, out of my comfort zone and I need to feel there's a safety blanket round me or someone there for reassurance. As a child you have that physical parental form that surrounds you in a big reassuring cuddle; as an adult that isn't as easily accessible. There's a point in the meditation where she says to imagine she is holding your hand. Yeh, maybe a bit creepy if listened to in daylight but during periods of panic and insomnia it is super comforting! Download the free version on the app store.

Check out the website or search Andy Puddicombe and you'll find some great free content and motivational speaking surrounding meditation and living in the now. His audios use the premise of  taking 5 or 10 mins out of your day to focus your mind on You and how You're are feeling which is so underrated these days! To access the app and HeadSpace audios there is a monthly charge but then you are able to gain lots of beneficial Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) exercises for times when you're trying to sleep or even when you're out and about. The meditations are easy to listen to and you can track your progress too. Andy has a positive, gentle, matter of fact voice that plainly explains life's issues and how we might feel at times: it's so relatable and reassuring. There are cute animations too alongside some of his explanations that sum up feelings of eg being overwhelmed which is again very reassuring when your gripped by emotion and feel like the only one in the world feeling like this! He has content for kids too.

G U I D E D   V I S U A L I S A T I O N 

Guided Visualisations mentally take you away from your surroundings into a completely different place and context. These are the best! I sometimes do self-visualisations and focus the chatter in my mind to describing a different place like imagining I'm in a submarine safe from the scary things around me, lying on a raft in the middle of the ocean or doing a walk-through of my perfect home. It's like Phoebe's from Friends 'happy place': you can borrow my happy place but don't move anything!

My all time favourite hypnosis site is where you are swept away to different places where you can take time out and safely focus on ways to deal with different emotions. You can buy each meditation but it is so worth buying the pack (I think it's £20). Each meditation vividly takes you to a different place: a tropical island, a secret garden, an igloo in the Arctic, an Desert Oasis...there are 18 different places and meditations and 2 new ones I've yet to try out! The app is super easy to use and to access via the website. The recordings paint a picture or create a film in your mind's eye and use your different senses to make it feel all the more real. They do guide you out of the imagery too but I often have fallen asleep by then!

Jason Stephenson has his own Youtube channel and lots of sleep and relaxation music and guided hypnosis recordings to choose from. He has a super gentle, quiet Australian accent. In particular I like the 'Can't Sleep: a meditation for insomnia and sleep disorders'. This particular visualisation has been my go-to when I need to escape to my desert island. Like it uses all your senses and calls to mind so much vivid detail of this imagined environment around you. It centres around you and your own needs, anything you need is there for you and is focused on your wellbeing and peaceful state of mind and body. I'm listening to it now (I've parked my forklift truck) and it is a bit kooky- there are robots in it, but think past that and go with it and it really is a great audio to help you relax!


ASMR means Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response or how I like to call it 'Braingasm'. This is a tingling sensation in the head, neck and upper back that it stimulated via acoustic or auditory stimuli. You don't need to always feel this sensation for it to help you relax or sleep. It's another way to focus your mind and silence that inner voice. To put it into a sleep context ASMR videos or audio tracks are often someone whispering or speaking softly and/or of crinkling, clicking, crunching, crumpling sounds. Search it and you'll fall down a rabbit hole of ASMR content including people simply unboxing packages, reading tweets and even a 25 minute IKEA commercial. I personally find it a bit creepy to listen to in the dark so sometimes use ASMR just to relax rather than sleep. 

For speaking (and other ambient sounds) 
check out: Savannah's Voice on Youtube. 

If you'd rather not have the lulling voice of someone dictating your imagined happy place then soundscapes are here for you. There are loads of sounds you can download in the app store or listen off the internet of white noise, rain, the ocean or chimes etc. However how about try something a little different. On Youtube you can find ASMR Soundscapes that create an 'environmental narrative' (that sounded a bit poncey) using different sounds. I sometimes use these just for background noise when I'm reading. I like:

(if your a fan of LOTR, Game of Thrones or Harry Potter you'll like this one!) 

Miracle Forest Screenshot

Do you use any hypnosis recordings? 
or would recommend any other guided meditations/visualisation apps? 
I'd be super interested to know and try them out for myself!
Please feel free to comment below.