Transition

All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks are life eternal: and in silence they speak happiness beyond the reach of books; There's nothing mortal in them; Their decay is the green life of change; to pass away and come again in bloom revivified. Its birth was heaven, eternal is its stay, and with the sun and moon shall still abide beneath their day and night and heaven wide.

- John Clare

Can't sleep at night? Trouble waking in the morning?

Recently an attendee of Visualise told me that they had been experiencing difficulty falling asleep at night after class.

hypnosis for sleep
I feel like I get six hours of sleep during Visualise and then when I go home to bed, I can’t sleep.

Trance states can be deeply restorative and I recommend people meditate or power-nap during the day to improve concentration and productivity. This instance was concerning though as my participant needed to wake at 5am, and they weren't getting to sleep until well after midnight.

hypnotherapy for sleep

I wondered if this was something they had experienced previously, before attending Visualise. Turns out, sleeping before midnight had been a challenge for this person since they were a teenager. 

Now, I'm not one to throw around diagnostic labels. I'm not a doctor or sleep specialist, but I believe it's helpful to realise that just as people have differing personality types, they can also have differing circadian rhythms. 

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In 2014 The International Classification of Sleep Disorders labelled the issue of not sleeping until after midnight and having difficulty waking in the morning as delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSPD). 

DSPD is the persistent dysregulation of a person's circadian rhythm (biological clock) in comparison to the general population, and societal norms. All people have a kind of internal clock that dictates when they wake up and go to sleep.

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Scientists believe DSPD is a person's biological clock running to a differing rhythm to most people's. The disorder affects the timing of a person's sleep, periods of alertness, core body temperature rhythm, and hormonal cycles.

If you experience staying awake late at night and waking later in the day, without interference to your life, this is called delayed sleep phase syndrome.

Labels aside, trouble sleeping at night and waking late can interfere with your productivity and sense of well-being, especially when you need to rise early for work. Understanding that your circadian rhythm might be different to the norm can help you in making changes to your sleep habits and lifestyle.

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DSPD is common amongst teenagers and often forms during adolescence, it is also linked to depression.

You can receive a formal diagnosis for DSPD by seeking the help of a Sleep Specialist who will conduct a formal assessment of your sleep habits and routines.

For more information on sleep disorders, and to find a specialist near you, visit the Australasian Sleep Society.

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In the meantime, here are some tips for treating DSPD:  

The most common method of treatment for DSPD is to gradually scale back your bedtime until you reach an appropriate hour to receive a restful night's sleep. You will need to be committed to, and rigidly implement this bedtime, so as not to fall back into your old routine. Unfortunately, so much as one late night out could lead someone with DSPD back into their usual sleep time. 

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Give yourself some extra time to seek out the sun each morning. Should you meditate in the morning, this would be an ideal time to do so outside while the sun is shining. Getting regular sun helps regulate melatonin - this is the hormone your body releases at night to help you sleep.

Go Camping!

You'll hate me for saying this, but if you avoid using electronics before bed you're much more likely to fall asleep. This is because electronics with blue light screens (just as the sun) suppress melatonin and overstimulate the mind. I recommend avoiding electronics two hours before bedtime. I'm sorry. It sucks, I know.

hypnosis

Create a healthy ritual around bedtime and sleep. It might be that you practice some gentle yoga, read something engaging (that's not on an electronic screen), have a cup of chamomile tea, keep a written or drawing journal, or take this time to meditate on sleep itself and the dreams you wish to have throughout the night. Whatever your routine, make it one that's enticing, relaxing, and healthy for you.

Avoid sugary foods before bed and coffee after 12pm. 

Keep your bedroom tidy and free of outside concerns. When you decide to go to bed, go there with the intention of relaxing without any of life's worries there with you. If it can't be resolved in the next 8 hours of sleep, let it go. 

can't sleep

A beautiful practice for sleep is Yoga Nidra, and my all time favourite recording of what I believe to be a full proof guide into sleep is: Yoga Nidra for Sleep with Jennifer Piercy. Check it out!

I will be posting guided meditations on my website soon, some of which are designed to help you sleep and remember your dreams. 

Until we meet again. Sleep deep my friend,

Lauren

Meditation Increases Grey Matter Density

Meditation practitioners have long claimed that daily meditational practice contributes to cognitive and psychological wellbeing, and although meditation does create a sense of peacefulness and relaxation, science has recently proven that meditation in actuality changes the brain. 

"The skill of mindfulness creates a condition of bare attention in which the meditator observes things as they are in order to notice what is just there, without grasping or aversion." - Joseph Goldstein

"The skill of mindfulness creates a condition of bare attention in which the meditator observes things as they are in order to notice what is just there, without grasping or aversion." - Joseph Goldstein

Harvard-affiliated researchers carried out an 8-week research into how mindfulness meditation affects the brain at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Reports revealed that meditation increases grey matter density in the hippocampus - known for playing a pivotal role in spatial navigation, long and short-term memory. 

It is believed the hippocampus is the centre of memory, emotion, and the autonomic nervous system. The hippocampus contains high levels of glucocorticoid receptors making it more vulnerable to long-term stress than other areas of the brain. 

Grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in memory and emotion, as well as sensory perception, speech, seeing and hearing, decision making, and self-control. 

"Meditation is a balancing act between attention and relaxation." - B. Alan Wallace

"Meditation is a balancing act between attention and relaxation." - B. Alan Wallace

Grey matters function in the brain is to route sensory stimuli to interneurons of the central nervous system in order to generate a response to stimulus through chemical synapse activity. 

Magnetic resonance images were taken of 16 participants brain structure two weeks before and after they engaged in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness.

Participants met weekly to practice mindfulness meditation, focusing on nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the body, along with listening to guided meditation audio recordings each day. 

"Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection." - Amit Ray

"Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection." - Amit Ray

Group participants reported spending on average 27 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day. 

Magnetic resonance images were also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval to compare results. 

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life." - Federico Fellini

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life." - Federico Fellini

“The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection... This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.” - Sara Lazar, the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program

It's exciting to realise that by simply practicing meditation we can play an active role in changing our brain for the better while increasing our quality of life, and sense of wellbeing. 

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness meditation or hypnotherapy, drop me a line here. Alternatively, you could attend my Visualise Guided Meditation class.

Happy Meditating,

Lauren

Ego-state Therapy

Ego-state therapy is a brief therapy developed by psychologist John G. Watkins and his wife Helen Watkins. It is used to analyse underlying personalities of the client in order to find the cause of psychological problems.

Ego-state Therapy is based on the premise that human personality is comprised of separate parts, rather than being an intrinsic whole. These parts or states, which all people have, hold their own emotion, power, weakness and other personal traits. When we say, "There's a part of me that wants to... (smoke, drink, overindulge etc.)" we are speaking about one of our ego states. 

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iMoodJournal

Our moods are dependent on environment and the way in which we interpret our environment. A walk in The Botanical Gardens could be for one person a relaxing break from city life while another might feel a real need to get back to work! 

Sometimes our environment will appear more hospitable than others. Understanding under what circumstances and environment our mood changes allows us to better understand which circumstances to pursue more regularly.

An app I have found useful in tracking mood is the iMoodJournal. Many of my clients experience fluctuations in mood and find that tracking assists them in better understanding what times, and under what circumstances, their mood changes. 

iMoodJournal keeps an overall record of the users well-being through regular check-ins and note taking. Keeping a record of triggers, feelings, and environments in which mood changes allows greater insight into the cause of emotional ups and downs.

iMoodJournal hypnotherapy

iMoodJournal allows tracking of emotions with hashtags like #anxious, #hopeful or #surprised. Sleep and medication can be organised through tags like #asprin and #sleep8hr. Time-based patterns in mood are summarised through charts, and selfies enabled should the user wish to observe changes in appearance with their moods. One can even share their moods with friends on Facebook. 

iMoodJournal is $1.99 in the iTunes store.