How to Get to Sleep

When I was practising as a hypnotherapist, I developed something of a specialism in helping clients to deal with insomnia. Generally, my procedure involved teaching them self-hypnosis and EFT, along with the principles of sleep hygiene. This was usually enough, but occasionally a client had a deep-seated issue that needed an analytical technique to resolve.

I took a particular interest in insomnia because I had suffered with it myself, and I still tend to wake during the night and sometimes use self-hypnosis to get back to sleep. I’d like to mention here a couple of techniques that I’ve recently discovered which work for me; perhaps one or both will work for you too. Before I start, I should mention that I think in words and find it quite hard to visualise pictures, but I can still manage these techniques; you don’t need clear mental images.

The Blackboard

A method which I used for years involved counting backwards from 300. I’ve since discovered that this is even more effective if you imagine writing each number on a blackboard (or whiteboard if you’re younger than me) and then rubbing it out before writing the next number. You’ll find that this gets progressively harder as you start to doze off, so you can just imagine seeing each number when writing it gets too difficult.

The Control Room

This is also a variation of a standard hypnotherapy technique. I find it works particularly well with my “inner dialogue” – literally talking to myself as I think. (If that means nothing to you, you don’t think that way, but you should still be able to adapt this method to work for you.)

Imagine that there is a control room for your mind. You may be able to visualise the whole room, full of dials, levers, knobs and switches. I can’t, so I just imagine one switch and one knob. The knob slows down my internal dialogue as I adjust it; the switch turns off the dialogue entirely.

Slowing down your internal dialogue – hearing yourself talking slowly – may work on its own. The method which seems to work best for me is to throw the switch to off, and then turn the knob to ‘fine-tune’ out any residual thoughts which still leak in. Just keeping the images in my mind helps too.

Other suggestions

The classic form of self-hypnosis is ‘progressive relaxation’, and this is always worth a try. If you put “progressive relaxation script” into your search engine of choice you’ll find lots of versions.

If you like to listen to recordings to help you to sleep, I can suggest one which I’ve found helpful. This is a verbal hypnotic recording; ‘sleep sounds’ have never worked for me.

This one is by Paul McKenna. It comes on a CD with his book I Can Make You Sleep. It lasts about half an hour and includes music and stereo sound; it’s best with headphones, but then you need to wake up at the end to take them off, although you can now get sleep headphones which may be worth a try. Some years ago, before my hypnotherapy training, I had a bad bout of insomnia, and it was an earlier version of this, on a cassette, which eventually broke it after listening to the tape for several nights before going to sleep.

If nothing works for you, I still recommend that you see a hypnotherapist (not me – I’m retired). As I mentioned earlier, you may have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Sleep well.