Sleep Well - Part 1

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 15-10-2015

Are you struggling to sleep?  Do you seem to always wake up around 2-3.00 am and can't get back to sleep?


When we experience consistent negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and depression, we often find that our sleep patterns interrupted.  This is a common complaint with many of people, especially those who are going through significant life changes eg redundancy, job change, marriage break up, moving house etc.  The majority of my clients tell me that they do not have a problem actually falling asleep but they tend to wake up about 2.00 or 3.00 am and find it difficult to go back to sleep, only managing to get back to sleep about half an hour before their alarm goes off.

Before I give you some tools to combat your poor sleeping, it is important to understand what happens when we sleep.  The following chart explains our sleep cycle:

Sleep Deprivation 4

During non-REM sleep, the body repairs and re-grows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.  During REM sleep all of our memories are consolidated, particularly our procedural and spatial memory.  We tend to spend more time than usual in REM sleep following days when we have been in unusual situations requiring us to learn many new tasks.  Although most people do not tend to wake after each cycle of REM if we are over-stimulated, we may wake up fully and it may take the length of an entire sleep cycle to get back to sleep.  It is assumed that REM sleep and the dreams we have during REM sleep is physiologically necessary for our healthy brain function.

During REM sleep, the subconscious sorts out all the experiences we have had during the previous day.  To use a common metaphor, it literally files everything away neatly in boxes.  Problems occur when your subconscious cannot find the right 'box' to file an item in; that item will usually be something that you have not been able to resolve during the day. 

Top Tip

If you tend to wake at the end of the second sleep cycle (as most of my clients with non-diagnosed sleep problems tend to do) one of the easiest ways to get back to sleep quickly, is to leave a note pad by the side of the bed and if you awaken worrying about something, write it down as quickly as possible.  Once you have done that, it is usually enough to assure the subconscious that the item it could not file, has been resolved allowing you to go straight back to sleep. 

Do not leave it too long to write it down, or stimulate yourself too much by getting out of bed or turning on the TV, because if you do, you may find that you have to wait until the next sleep cycle is due before you fall asleep again (typically 1.5-2 hours). 

Whenever I teach this simple technique to clients, most tell me that they only needed to do it for a couple of nights and then they stop waking up in the middle of the night and have a much more restful sleep

More to tips explained in Sleep Well - Part 2.


If you require help with anything that is hindering your sleep, why not contact us for a free, no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

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