Take Some Time and Sleep On It

The Precious Unconscious

In the last article, we learned about brainwaves and brainwave states, as related to the hypnotherapy process. We talked about the conscious and subconscious mind in detail. But what about the unconscious mind, or the state of sleep?

Paying the Price of Keeping Up With the Jones’

In today’s society, we are go go go. Sleep is something that tends to fall by the wayside in order to get everything done that we want to do in a day. But what most people don’t know is just how vital sleep is for our health, performance, and ultimately our survival. In June, 60 Minutes did a show on sleep, its importance, the repercussions of not getting enough, and the brain’s responses to lack of sleep.

Just as Important as Food

During one study, lab rats were deprived of sleep for 5 days. What happened? They died. This means that sleep is just as important to our survival as food! However, people don’t want to believe that they need to sleep because it puts a damper on how much they can get done. So what do they do? They “compromise” by getting a couple of hours a sleep a day.

Why Shut the Body Down?

What most people don’t know are the proven decompensations when a body does not get 7.5-8 hours of sleep a night. That’s right, 7.5-8 hours! If you don’t get that amount, you are considered sleep-deprived. And the consequences of sleep-deprivation take effect immediately–after only one night! These consequences include slowed reaction time, impaired judgment, poor concentration and decision-making, and difficulties learning and remembering. Now, because we are exposed to external “compensations,” such as daylight and caffeine, we do have the ability to delay some of those negative consequences for a day or two. But certainly not indefinitely.

I’m Fine!

“So what?” you’re thinking. “I may be considered sleep-deprived, but I am functioning just fine!” Well, believe it or not, you’re not. Scientists have found that this type of response is quite common among sleep-deprived individuals; they have no sense of their limitations; they believe they are used to and have adapted to lack of sleep. This simply is not true, and the fallout of limited sleep is dramatic.

Hmmm…Fat, Sick and Unstable

Studies show that when a person gets less than 7.5-8 hours a night, they not only could wind up fat and sick, but also mentally ill. With lack of adequate sleep, what occurs is a hyperactive brain response: The amygdala, the emotional brain center, reacts more strongly than it would otherwise, and it seems there is a disconnect between the amygdala and the frontal lobe of the brain. The combination of these two brain dysfunctions results in mood swings, and major disturbances in rational thought and decision-making. In other words, the brain of a sleep-deprived individual looks remarkably similar to that of a person suffering from a psychiatric disorder.

Don’t Forget Sex

If that didn’t get your attention, maybe this one will: sleep-deprivation may very well dramatically affect sexual drive. In a study done on fruit flies (hard to really make a connection between flies and humans, but bear with me), it was proven that when a well-rested male fruit fly is put in a Petri-dish with a female, he almost immediately begins to orient towards her and then perform a mating ritual which leads to copulation. This happens time and time again. But, when they deprived the male fruit fly of sleep, and then put him together in a container with a female, he does not orient towards her and appears disinterested in her and/or mating! Decide for yourself if you want to draw a correlation or not, but seems pretty plausible to me!

Quality of Sleep is Important Too

Finally, scientists studied quality of sleep as well. They deprived subjects of reaching deep sleep by monitoring their brain waves and arousing them just slightly with sounds just as they were entering into a Delta brainwave state. By keeping them at Theta and above, the scientists discovered that the subjects began to eat more and enter into a pre-diabetic state. Leptin, a hormone in the brain responsible for signaling fullness, seems to go off-line. As a result, subjects began to eat enormous amounts of food and gained weight. With regard to the pre-diabetic state, scientists found that by eliminating Delta waves, subjects were then unable to properly metabolize sugar. Basically, by not getting quality sleep, we are subject to health problems commonly related to old age.

It’s Nap Time!

What if you just can’t, for whatever reason, get 7.5-8 hours a sleep a night? Here’s the good news: You can take naps and make up the missed time!!! Isn’t that great? So, if you only are able to get 6 hours a night, all you have to do is take a 1.5-2 hour nap and you’re good to go!

Summing It Up

In this article, we talked about the importance of sleep as a component of health. When a person is sleep-deprived, many everyday functions become severely impaired. Some of the subjective ramifications can be excess weight, illness, and unstable mood. A person needs to get 7.5-8 hours a sleep a night to optimally function. If unable to get that amount, naps can save the day and catch us up.

The Bottom Line

The implication that this has for hypnotherapy is that many of the symptoms that clients come in with may be alleviated, or at the very least aided, by a good night’s sleep or a decent night’s sleep accompanied by an afternoon nap. What this all means is that it may be time to rethink what is essential for good health–not just diet and exercise, but diet, exercise, and SLEEP.

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