Sleep, glorious restful healing sleep, is the foundation for longevity. It really shouldn’t be necessary to extol the beauty of a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, for many of us, sound sleep is elusive. How then to find it?
How often have you been asked, “Did you rest well?” “Have a good night’s sleep” is as common a sentence as “How are you today?” is a common question. The answer to the latter is based on how well you did with the former.
Sleep is often elusive
A busy day ending in pleasant fatigue courts a restful sleep at night. So does the knowledge that an exhilarating, anticipated activity waits for you in the morning. A day of tranquility and enjoyment, perhaps without excitement, may be conducive to peaceful sleep. We’ve all known the deep sleep at the end of a day spent at the beach or on a picnic, without aggravation or uncontrolled excitement.
Approximately one third of every day is used for sleep. Scientifically, only three hours, those in which dreaming takes place – the REM or Rapid Eye Movement stage – are absolutely necessary. Well-documented experiments have shown that without this minimal amount of sleep, hallucinations and other psychoneurotic symptoms develop. But recently, psychiatrists have concluded that seven to eight hours of sleep a day are required, especially for the elderly.
The REM sleeping stage
The REM sleeping stage, during which the eyes move back and forth in reaction to the dreaming process of the brain, is like a steam valve letting off pressure from the subconscious mind.
All your experiences and memories are buried in your subconscious mind – retrievable through the barrier by memory. Some are pushed more deeply below the barrier than others. Those near the barrier press against it and make dents which influence the conscious mind.
During sleep, the barrier is more easily penetrated. The forgotten episodes leave the subconscious and become dreams. A particularly strong, upsetting or disturbing episode crossing the barrier creates a nightmare.
Contrary to common opinion, a nightmare then may be beneficial because the dent becomes smaller, the subconscious memory of the episode is now under less pressure. As a result, psychoneurotic disturbances such as hallucinations or compulsions need not occur.
If you want a sure-fire formula for staying awake, just put your head on your pillow at night and start thinking of the problems that face you.
If you can’t avoid this state of affairs, it’s undesirable to remain in bed tossing around. But the easy alternative, the use of sedatives or hypnotic drugs, is not to be encouraged. Many are habit forming and a hangover frequently follows. But more seriously, sedatives inhibit the functioning of the brain cells. It’s better to be alert, cheerful and vigorous.
Self-hypnosis is a simple method for inducing a peaceful sleep. Depending on the ability of the subject to co-operate, to hypnotize another person is not easy. But, when you are hypnotizing yourself, you certainly have a willing subject. No difficulty should be encountered.
Deep breathing is the first step. Don’t be alarmed if this hyperventilation causes slight dizziness. Then, while breathing deeply and regularly, in and out, in and out, your mind should concentrate on one thought: “I am falling asleep, I am getting sleepier. I am falling asleep. I am getting sleepier.”
The mind cannot maintain one thought indefinitely, however, and you’ll find that yours, like everyone else’s, must go off on a tangent.
- Steps commonly used for self-hypnosis
- Natural Patterns of Sleep