Alexandra Dobbs
Sophrologist and Hypnotherapist
Alexandra Dobbs
Sophrologist and Hypnotherapist

How to improve your sleep with Hypnosis and Sophrology

Let's  take stock of an activity which occupies nearly one third of our lives. Sleep is still a mysterious function, but the studies that have been carried out reveal that it is crucial for our health: memory and learning, metabolism, immunity... even if many hypotheses still need to be confirmed, and if others will not fail to be formulated, it is perfectly established that sleep is crucial for many biological functions.

fingers with drawing of sleeping face

Sleep cycles

Schematically, sleep corresponds to a succession of 3 to 6 cycles, of 60 to 120 minutes each. A cycle is itself made up of alternating slow wave and REM sleep, each corresponding to a different cerebral activity.

  • Slow wave sleep has several stages: after a transitional phase of a few minutes, separating wakefulness and sleep, the light sleep phase sets in. It is followed by a phase of progressively deeper sleep.
  • Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep corresponds to a period during which the brain activity is close to that of the waking phase.
chart presenting sleep cycles

source: Nightingold

The sleep rhythm is never fixed

The sleep rhythm varies during the same night: the first cycles are essentially composed of deep slow wave sleep, while the end of the night is dominated by REM sleep. Sleep also varies throughout life: slow wave sleep is deeper during growth, until about age 20. As we get older, those phases are shorter and replaced by a lighter, slow wave sleep, which explains the increase in sleep disorders as we age. At the same time, REM sleep is longer in the first years of life. Its duration is reduced in adulthood.

Falling asleep: a complex phenomenon

Sleep does not only occur because of fatigue. Lifestyle, consumption (alcohol, stimulants...), the immediate environment (light, noise...) can influence the capacity of an individual to fall asleep. But biologically, this phase also requires the convergence of several factors:

  • homeostatic processes, which increase the need for sleep as the waking period extends (homeostasis: state of internal equilibrium of an organism in the face of changes in the external environment)
  • circadian processes, responsible for the rhythmic aspect of the sleep-wake cycle and which aim to synchronize the organism and sleep with the day-night alternation

Your health depends on your sleep

Sleep allows the body to recover, both physically and mentally. Studies have confirmed the role of sleep in concentration, learning, memorization and orientation. Similarly, a poor quality/quantity of sleep increases the risk of irritability, depressive symptoms, but also of weight gain, hypertension or infection.

However, the amount of sleep necessary for recovery is specific to each person: genetics help to differentiate between early risers and late sleepers, or heavy sleepers and light sleepers.

Sleep pathologies

There are many pathologies related to sleep: insomnia, hypersomnia and narcolepsy, circadian rhythm disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, parasomnias (sleepwalking, bruxism, somniloquy, night terrors, enuresis, REM sleep behavior disorder, ...), restless legs syndrome...

Focus on insomnia

Occasional or transitory insomnia is common: it is generally linked to an event or a disturbing behavior (stress, depression, heavy meal, pain, consumption of stimulants...). Insomnia episodes last one or several nights and are eventually resolved when the triggering factor disappears. 

On the other hand, when insomnia occurs more than three times a week for at least three months, it is called chronic insomnia: in this case, it may be difficult to find obvious causes that can explain them, and attempts to adapt the environment or behavior do not always solve the problem. 

Chronic insomnia is thought to be caused by three factors

  • A predisposing factor: individual susceptibility to sleep disorders (genetic, biological or psycho-social factor...)
  • A precipitating factor: a change in insomnia (family, medical, personal event...)
  • A maintenance factor (or chronicisation factor): the disorder settles in over time.

A subjective complaint to be objectified

In France, insomnia affects 15 to 20 % of the population according to studies, and 9 % suffer from a severe form.
The diagnosis of insomnia is essentially made on the basis of the patient's complaints and therefore on the basis of an initial medical interrogation. A sleep diary kept for 2 to 4 weeks can also help to better define the conditions of occurrence, the frequency and severity of episodes, their physical and social consequences... 
The clinical examination and other complementary tests can finally help to differentiate: 

  • primary insomnia: it involves, to a greater or lesser extent, factors related to stress or to progressive conditioning (sleep anxiety, exacerbated mental activity in bed, ...), or may correspond to  a distorted perception of sleep or disorders installed since childhood.
  • secondary insomnia which can be linked to a primary psychiatric pathology, to a medical pathology or to the use of substances or drugs which favor sleep fragmentation.

Put the odds in your favor

We are not all equal when it comes to the risk of insomnia, but at equal risk, certain behaviors reduce the quality of sleep: a heavy dinner, the consumption of caffeine, alcohol or tobacco in the hours before bedtime, the practice of sports beyond 8 p.m., an overheated or noisy room, blue light from screens... It is also important to set up a constant and regular "ritual" around bedtime in order to gradually return to normal sleep.
When, despite all these precautions, insomnia persists, consult a health professional.

Sophrology and Hypnosis: to get back to quality sleep

Do you have problems falling asleep, frequent and/or prolonged night wakings, insufficient quality of sleep, recurrent nightmares, body tension...? Sleeping disorders are a recurrent reason for consultation. Hypnosis and Sophrology allow you to regain quality sleep by working, for example, on the apprehension of insomnia or night terrors, how to improve your breathing, how to listen to your body rather than to your thoughts, learning to know your cycles, how to relax, getting to know your personal way of entering into sleep and programming it, or modifying your erroneous beliefs about sleep.


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