Do you experience stress, anxiety, worries and suffer the negative consequences of sleep deprivation? If that is the case, this article could be of interest to you.

Sleep is an altered state or consciousness or partial unconsciousness from which a person can be woken. Normal sleep comprises two components: Non-Rapid Eye Movement [NREM] and Rapid Eye Movement [REM] sleep. NREM and REM sleep alternate throughout the night.

NREM sleep consists of four gradual merging stages, each characterised by different EEG activity.  Typically, a person goes from Stage 1-4 in less than 1 hour with increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, heart rate and breathing slow down. The deepest stage of NREM sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning.

In REM sleep, the eyes move rapidly back and forth under the closed eyelids. REM sleep occurs approximately every 90 minutes and in a 7or 8-hour sleep period a person experiences three to five episodes of REM sleep. There is a lengthening of REM sleep with each episode; with the final episode lasting approximately 50 minutes.

In adults, REM sleep totals 90 – 120 minutes during a sleep period.  As a person ages, the average time spent sleeping decreases [the percentage of REM sleep] declines. As much as 50% of an infant’s sleep is REM sleep, whilst 35% for a 2-year-old and 25% for adults. Although REM sleep is not fully understood, the high percentage of REM sleep in children is thought to be important for brain maturation.

Neuronal activity is high during REM sleep – brain blood flow and oxygen is higher during REM sleep than during intense mental or physical activity while awake. Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake. Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning, memory and contributes to emotional health.

Several physiological changes occur during sleep. Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep and the EEG readings are like those of a person who is awake.  

Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair attention, learning and performance.

Hence, psychological state and mental health is affected. Studies in both adults and children suggest that sleep problems may raise risk for, and even directly contribute to the development of some psychiatric disorders. This research has clinical application, because treating a sleep disorder may also help alleviate symptoms of a co-occurring mental health problem.

Many areas about the relationship between sleep and mental health is not yet completely understood. However, neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation contributes to negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.

Lifestyle changes for better sleep, mental health and wellbeing!

Lifestyle changes. Avoiding certain stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant. When it reaches the brain, the most noticeable effect is alertness. Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system and may help an individual to fall asleep. However, its’ effect wears off after several hours and the individual wakes up. Nicotine is a stimulant and enhances alertness. The best recommendation is to avoid these substances before bedtime.

Physical activity:  Being physically active [incidental or focused exercise] helps a person sleep sooner, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.

Sleep hygiene: It is worth thinking about “sleep hygiene”. This term is used to check a tick list of things to ensure an individual has regular sleep. For instance, the bedroom is dark, no electronics are operating, bed linen is not too heavy or light, air ventilation is not too warm or cold and using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex.

Conventional methods for treating sleep problems include pharmacological and nonpharmacological approaches. Sedative medications are commonly prescribed for sleep problems; however, their long-term effects remain unclear.  Other approaches are the nonpharmacological, which include Meditation, Hypnotherapy, CBT-I, Deep breathing exercises, and Progressive muscle relaxation (alternately tensing and releasing muscles) can help an individual fall asleep sooner.

One approach – hypnosis, is the state of consciousness that involves focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and that brings about an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion. Hypnosis is appealing to clinicians and patients because it is typically brief and can provide long-term symptom relief.

If you or someone else you know has difficulties with falling and staying asleep, please contact us for a chat: Satori Self Development (02) 4647 4868 or 0407 906 999.

In the Journal of Sleep Medicine (2018), Hypnosis Intervention Effects on Sleep Outcomes: A Systematic Review was presented.

In this article, quoted as follows:

Study Objectives: Sleep improvement is a promising target for preventing and modifying many health problems. Hypnosis is considered a cost-effective and safe intervention with reported benefits for multiple health conditions. There is a growing body of research assessing the efficacy of hypnosis for various health conditions in which sleep was targeted as a primary or secondary outcome. This review aimed to investigate the effects of hypnosis interventions on sleep, to describe the hypnotic procedures, and to evaluate potential adverse effects of hypnosis.

Methods: We reviewed studies (prior to January 2017) using hypnosis in adults for sleep problems and other conditions comorbid with sleep problems, with at least one sleep outcome measure. Randomized controlled trials and other prospective studies were included.

Results: One hundred thirty-nine nonduplicate abstracts were screened, and 24 of the reviewed papers were included for qualitative analysis. Overall, 58.3% of the included studies reported hypnosis benefit on sleep outcomes, with 12.5% reporting mixed results, and 29.2% reporting no hypnosis benefit; when only studies with lower risk of bias were reviewed the patterns were similar. Hypnosis intervention procedures were summarized, and incidence of adverse experiences assessed.

Conclusions: Hypnosis for sleep problems is a promising treatment that merits further investigation. Available evidence suggests low incidence of adverse events. The current evidence is limited because of few studies assessing populations with sleep complaints, small samples, and low methodological quality of the included studies. Our review points out some beneficial hypnosis effects on sleep but more high-quality studies on this topic are warranted.

J Clin Sleep Med. 2018 Feb 15; 14(2): 271–283.

Published online 2018 Feb 15. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6952

PMCID: PMC5786848 PMID: 29198290