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Sophrology: using Dynamic Relaxation to improve sleep quality

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Do you wake up in the morning feeling completely exhausted?

 

Do you find it difficult to fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the night?

 

Not getting a good night’s sleep is a serious problem, but help is at hand.

Sleep can be restful if you prepare mentally and physically for it during the day and in the evening before you go to bed.

Of course, we are not saying that you should spend the whole day in bed trying to catch up on your sleep ! Each one of us is different – some of us may require 8 hours’ sleep to feel refreshed and productive the following day, while some may need either less or more. Additionally, there are contrasting studies on taking a nap during the day: while the majority of studies agree that, when needed, a 15 minute nap in the daytime may help recharge your batteries, other studies warn against sleeping during the day if you suffer from insomnia.

 

What is your most pressing sleep problem?

From this list what would you say is your most pressing sleep problem:

Have you been struggling to fall asleep for the past few days, maybe because you have a stressful event coming up?

  • Have you been unable to sleep continuously for the past month?
  • Do you find it easy to fall asleep because you are exhausted but then wake up in the middle of the night with a raging mind?
  • Do you wake up several times at night?

Here is another question: how do you feel about not being able to sleep?

  • Worried
  • Fearful
  • Anxious
  • Angry
  • Afraid of not being able to sleep, so become even more stressed because of the fear of not sleeping

Some sleep problems can be linked to chronic insomnia (for example not being able to sleep for 30 days continuously) and for those you need to see a sleep specialist like a Sophrology practitioner, for example.

Some sleep problems are temporary, particularly when you feel stressed before a big event (work presentation, job interview, exams etc).

Other sleep problems can be linked to physical ailments therefore you should speak to your doctor to address your overall health condition. Also speak to your doctor if you suspect that any medication you are taking may be causing sleep problems.

Reflecting on the causes of sleep deprivation is essential: ask yourself “what is happening in my life that stops me from getting a good night’s sleep?”

Here are some useful questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I experiencing stress in my life?
  • Do I have too much to handle at work and at home?
  • Do I feel I have too many responsibilities and take on too much work?
  • Am I worried about the future, about money, about somebody else?
  • Have I had a shock?
  • Am I happy with my life?
  • Do I have enough time to sleep?
  • Do I eat and drink healthily?
  • Do I take enough exercise or am I exercising too much?

 

How Sophrology can help you solve your sleep problems

Sleep deprivation has many consequences, from tiredness to muscle pain, from a stressed mind to feeling more sensitive, depressed and irritable emotionally, to compensating with over-eating (with resulting weight gain), drinking alcohol to fall asleep, and drinking coffee and smoking to stay awake during the day.

What is applicable to any type of person, whether suffering from insomnia or having some troubles falling asleep, is to practise dynamic relaxation techniques on a regular basis to prepare mind and body for a restful sleep as well as to keep your level of stress to the minimum throughout your day.

Sophrology is a dynamic relaxation technique that you can use in different situations and can be particularly useful for sleep problems. It is called dynamic relaxation because it not only helps you to relax and teaches you to control stress very effectively, but it is also a truly dynamic way to work with consciousness by allowing to develop your inner resources. Sophrology uses efficient techniques based visualisation, breathing, relaxation and body awareness to allow you to reconnect with your ability to sleep. To read more about Sophrology, click here.

 

Sophrology does not require special training, equipment or clothing. It can be practised at home or outside, and you only need about 10-15 minutes to feel the benefits. It is a simple method suitable for everybody.

Sophrology helps you manage your stress levels and anxiety through simple breathing exercises, relaxation exercises, guided meditations, using our own voice and gentle movement to access infinite possibilities of the body and mind.

 

In Switzerland, Sophrology is used in hospitals to help patients suffering from sleeping disorders.

Through a regular Sophrology practice over 2 weeks, you can notice some improvements with your sleep, have a better awareness of where tension and stress come from and how you can deal with them in a positive way.

 

Preparing yourself for sleep

These are some tips and rituals you can use every day to help you sleep. Try them every evening for at least a month to see improvements in the quality of your sleep.

  • Make sure that your bedroom is not too hot and well ventilated
  • Your bedroom is a sacred space – no work files, computers, cell phone etc… De-clutter it !
  • Make sure you have a comfortable mattress
  • Go to bed at regular times
  • Avoid going to bed too early
  • Listen to your body : do you feel tired ? – Sophrology will help with that, the more you work with it the more you become aware of it
  • Do regular physical activity
  • Avoid vigorous exercise in the evening – plan it for first thing in the morning instead
  • Hot bath might help
  • Don’t try to compensate by sleeping longer in the morning
  • If you can’t sleep, stand up and go in the living room, read, listen to relaxing music, practise some calming breathing techniques, then as soon as you feel tired go to bed.
  • Create a positive environment for your sleep, like we do for our children, by having rituals like a cup of chamomile tea, reading a good book or massaging your body. Something you do every night that will let your brain know that you are preparing yourself to sleep.
  • After 7pm avoid stressful activities.
  • Avoid watching TV or using smartphone/tablet/laptop just before going to bed
  • Avoid spicy food, heavy meals, or skipping meals in the evening
  • Have a carbohydrate-based meal in the evening – rice, pasta
  • No alcohol in the evening
  • Lavender, camomile, magnesium supplements, rescue remedy may help too.

Think about your personal ritual – which of above examples are easy for you to do every evening?

 

Sophrology exercises

Try this exercise when you struggle falling asleep or wake up too early.

This is a breathing exercise you can do any time during the day: in a seated position, place one hand on the stomach, the other on the chest. As you breathe in, try to expand the tummy first, and the chest second. Use abdominal breathing during the day to help you manage stress and help you improve the quality of your sleep at night.

This exercise is useful when you want to sleep, so you can practise it when you need to calm the body down and relax the nervous system. You may experience a sense of calm while letting go of all the worries and anxieties. As a suggestion, write this sequence down and record it so you can listen to it as you prepare for sleep.

Using your diaphragm (abdominal breathing):

– Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4

– Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 6

– Inhale for a count of 4, stop for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, stop for a count of 4.

– Finish the session humming

You can also do this breathing exercise during the day in a seated position to help you relax.

Focus on your body sensations and feel the movement of the breath. Repeat until you start feeling calmer.

Allow yourself to let go of all the worries and fears of not being able to fall asleep, while regaining confidence in your ability to sleep.

 

Meet a Sophrologist

Sophrology is a journey and your practitioner will develop a session plan with you to suit your needs. If you visit a Sophrologist for the first time you will discuss your past health history, any current issues that are adding stress or anxiety, and what sleeping problems you are encountering. The practitioner then will devise with you an action plan with the goal of improving the quality of your sleep. The plan consists of simple Sophrology exercises to do at home, lifestyle advice and goal setting.

To learn more about Sophrology or book a session please email [email protected]

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