I woke up the other day hugely relieved that I hadn’t got to do a whole load of homework that I’d forgotten. I remember waking up orientating myself to the day with a small weight on my mind. I was so happy and relieved when I realised it was just a dream and the weight lifted. I remembered that I had completed my diploma in solution focused hypnotherapy and hypnotherapy practitioner diploma.
40% of people suffer from sleep deprivation which has a knock on effect on road safety and a £40 billion cost to the economy (1.). There are 5 stages to sleep - I will just discuss the 2 stages. The first stage is where we drop off into a deep sleep this is temporarily restorative. The purpose of this is thought to be able to help us survive should we need to escape danger. It wouldn’t sustain us for long however. Many of us drop off to sleep on the sofa and feel refreshed only to fall back to sleep when we get into bed.
One of the other stages is REM sleep ‘rapid eye movement’. This is discussed in the hypnotherapy initial consultation to help clients understand the benefits of trance. When we negatively we fill our ‘stress bucket’ and create anxiety. We can negatively think or forecast as a result of our circumstances, our thoughts about others or just because we’ve allowed ourselves to sink into a cycle of negative thinking. REM sleep turns an emotional memories/experiences into a narrative memory. We do this by dreaming either a clear scenario or metaphorically. If you have pets you will recognise this stage as it’s when they twitch or look like they are running.
REM sleep is limited to 20% of our sleep which is demonstrated by my sleep tracker. This was an excellent night’s sleep (I don’t need a tracker to tell me this though). If we have too much stress, anxiety and depression or hold lots of anger we might wake in the night. Most of us have experienced being wide awake in the night and unable to get back to sleep. This is because we have used up our REM sleep and so we wake up. REM sleep is not far from wakefulness and so when we wake up in this scenario we often remember our dreams.
So how does this relate to hypnotherapy? Just as REM sleep helps process our thoughts the trance used in hypnotherapy also enables the client to process their thoughts and change their unhelpful behaviour or improve motivation including sports performance, stop smoking and manage pain amongst many other useful changes. Trance is when the two minds come together and focus on the same thing and when we are in that state we have access to the subconscious mind.
Here we have seen that although we may think that we just close our eyes and sleep or drift into a beautiful trance there is an incredible process going on in our minds changing the way we think to a calmer and more positive way.