Are you aware of how you could be affecting the quality of your sleep? We spoke with Georgia Foster, a Clinical Hypnotherapist, about how what’s going on inside your mind can affect your sleeping habits.
Even with the most comfortable bed, beautiful linen and a perfect pillow, there could be something that is inhibiting good quality sleep.
It’s not even about what may be going on in your room or outside your home. It’s what’s going on inside your mind that is the issue.
In the quiet of the night when it is dark, and all you want to do is go to sleep, for many men and women there is a constant negative chatter that comes from what I call The Inner Critic.
This self-sabotaging inner dialogue can stimulate anxiety, self-questioning, as well as fears about life and the future.
Someone who has a hectic life may not hear The Inner Critic’s voice during the day… but in the quiet of the night, when it is dark and the world around you is asleep, it can creep into your head.
What it has to say can be very unhelpful to self-esteem such as ‘Why did you say that in the meeting today?’ or ‘How are you going to resolve this issue tomorrow?’
The crystal ball myth
Many people don’t realise that the Inner Critic does not have a crystal ball to see into your future and that it cannot resolve problems. Its sole purpose is to forewarn you about what ‘might’ happen.
If we believe this negative thinking to be true and review the ‘What if’ scenario’s,’ it will be difficult to drift into a lovely relaxing sleep.
The mind likes to solve problems, so often it will use this time to go over the day or think about tomorrow which this is fine, but if it continues with negative thinking, it can cause a lot of stress and stop you from sleeping.
The Inner Critic will rub its hands with glee when it is time to go to bed. It may say ‘I wonder if you are going to sleep tonight?’ or ‘You need to sleep, but I bet you are going to find it difficult to nod off.’
It’s a bit like asking someone to NOT think about an elephant with pink spots. Because the more you think about trying to sleep, the more you can’t!
Shutting off this ‘busy brain’ syndrome can be very challenging.
Alcohol and sleeping tablets
This negative thinking is enough to drive you to drink! In fact, many people use alcohol to stop this sort of thinking. Many people don’t realise that when they drink alcohol it shuts down the critical part of the mind.
Unbeknown to the drinker they aren’t drinking alcohol for the sake of it, they are drinking to calm the mind down so they can go to sleep!
However, those that don’t drink can end up using sleeping pills as another way to shut down this critical voice before they sleep.
One of the most important points to make is that the Inner Critic is only one voice. It cannot see into your future, and the truth is we cannot change our past.
The Logical Calm Part
The good news is the Inner Critic is just one voice. There is the opposite part I call the Calm Logical part that knows how to take you into the sleep state. This part knows that sleep is important and is a necessary time to heal, replenish and rejuvenate your mind and body.
For it to be more present, you need to practice being in this space.
How to quieten the Inner Critic before sleep
Close your eyes and focus on those unhelpful thoughts that are holding you back from sleeping and pop them into an imaginary box next to your bed. Each time you hear the Inner Critic raise its voice, wave it goodbye by breathing it out into that box. Then, breathe in calm thoughts that support and relax you. This could be a memory of a beach that you love or even the idea of a beautiful walk in a lush green forest... something that brings a smile to your face. You can even choose to play a relaxing piece of music on your headphones. Ignite any moments that support you to relax.
Repeat this exercise for 10 minutes every day for at least 7 days at the time when you usually are ready for sleep.
This routine will soon start to become familiar and comfortable, so your mind will begin to respond from this space rather than from the Inner Critic place.
About the Author
Georgia Foster is a Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Melbourne. Specialising in The Inner Critic, sleep and alcohol issues, Georgia is passionate about helping people see their true potential.