By Mark Spencer, ITA Certified New Code and Classic Code NLP Trainer and Change Agent
In NLP we often focus on how to assist individuals and groups to perform at their best.One thing that NLP doesn’t usually explicitly mention is that to perform well, you need to be in a state of readiness, which includes every aspect of your well-being.
One of the most important factors that will be impacting on your “State of Readiness” and flexibility is sleep. Identify your own sleeping pattern and ensuring you get the sleep you need is something that everyone can do to increase their capabilities. This article contains sections on Sleep debt, iPhone apps, and the recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation and what you can do and finally, Our opinion and what we might do as an NLP Practitioner which also contains some practical tips for you.
This article has been updated and re-published.
Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds. ~ JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, 2002
Lack of sleep ‘linked to early death’ from the BBC.
Not too little sleep, yet not too much, the experts advise in the BBC Article cited below.
Excerpt from the article
Getting less than six hours sleep a night can lead to an early grave, UK and Italian researchers have warned. They said people regularly having such little sleep were 12% more likely to die over a 25-year period than those who got an “ideal” six to eight hours. They also found an association between sleeping for more than nine hours and early death, although that much sleep may merely be a marker of ill health.
Sleep journal reports the findings, based on 1.5m people in 16 studies.
Professor Francesco Cappuccio, leader of the Sleep, Health and Society Programme at the UK’s University of Warwick, said: “Modern society has seen a gradual reduction in the average amount of sleep people take and this pattern is more common amongst full-time workers, suggesting that it may be due to societal pressures for longer working hours and more shift-work.”
“But having less than five hours a night suggests something is probably not right. “Five hours is insufficient for most people and being drowsy in the day increases your risk of having an accident if driving or operating dangerous machinery.”
Sleep is the best meditation.
Get Some Sleep! an article relating sleep deprivation and the stresses our bodies where the assert that research has shown there are lots of health ailments related to chronic sleep deprivation, early onset Alzheimer’s being one of them.
Amyloid production- the gunk of Alzheimer’s pathology- tends to increase during periods of wakefulness and decrease when we fall asleep. Could this be why some people experience “sundowning” late in the day- since the amyloid factories have been producing…
Police hit by sleep disorders from the ABC (Australia).
Excerpt from the article and study in US and Canada
…Then over a two-year follow up period, we looked at their occupational performance and safety and what we found is that those officers, that at base line showed sleep disorder symptoms were more likely to have poor occupational performance outcomes, make more errors at work, have more attentional lapses at work, be absent from work more and also fall asleep both at work and while driving significantly more.
How much Sleep?
How much sleep do our bodies need? from NineMSN
Excerpt from the article
…The sleep lab girls rise at 7am to see how they go again on the driving simulator and the reaction time test. This will determine how much sleep (or lack of it) affects you. Melissa:Her average reaction time after a sleepless night — 60 percent slower than the day before. Emma:After only four hours sleep, Emma is reacting 15 percent slower. Phoebe: Is four percent slower after a six-hour sleep. Lauren:Shows no change after sleeping for eight hours.
Yes, it is true — we do need around eight hours of sleep a night to perform optimally. If you can only manage six, your ability to function normally will only be slightly impaired, so long as this is a one-off occasion. Once you go below six hours on a regular basis, that’s when problems start occurring.
In Home Sleep Studies & CPAP Treatment For Apnoea (in Brisbane) and they have Research articles also.
Excerpt from the journal
Bad news for women who suffer from sleep apnoea. According to a study conducted by researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing, women with sleep apnoea experience a higher degree of brain damage than men with sleep apnoea. The findings are reported in the December 2012 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, ‘SLEEP’.
It has long been known that obstructive sleep apnoea is a serious ‘sleep disordered breathing’ condition. While the sufferer sleeps, the airway is blocked by soft tissue (such as the tongue, soft palate, uvula and/or pharyngeal wall) collapsing across it. Breathing stops for at least 10 seconds, more commonly much longer, before the body momentarily wakes and starts breathing again. (The sufferer is usually unaware of waking and has no recollection of doing so the next morning.) These breathing stoppages and arousals can happen hundreds of times per night.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
By Brandon Peters, M.D., About.com
Guide, Updated February 05, 2010.
What happens if we don’t meet our sleep needs? By not getting enough sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that we usually have to “pay off.” This might involve extra sleep by napping, going to bed early, or sleeping in to catch up. If we sleep less than our body needs to feel refreshed and don’t catch up we might experience:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor thinking
- Increased risk of accidents
I personally use this app and the key here is understanding potentially how deep your sleep has been and at what times you sleep best. You may also find if starting at 21:00, 22:00 or 23:00 gives you a higher amount of deep sleep. This application also tries to wake you up as close as it can to your more awake moments. It can track your progress and deep sleep percentage, your own comments and notes so that you can improve your chance of a good night’s sleep.
A well-spent day brings happy sleep.
Leonardo da Vinci
Sleep Cycle Analyzes Your Sleep Patterns for a Better Wake-Up
Identify your sleep pattern
Sleep Cycle uses your iPhone’s accelerometer to monitor your movements during the night and determine when you’re most likely in and out of a dream state. Before you go to bed, set the app’s alarm clock, then place your iPhone on the corner of your bed (putting it under the fitted sheet will keep it from sliding around). Sleep Cycle isn’t meant to be a scientific tool for people with medical sleep issues, but rather an unobtrusive way to get a little insight into your sleep patterns.
The Sleep Cycle alarm clock is a bio-alarm clock that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase.
Waking up in the lightest sleep phase feels like waking without an alarm clock – it is a natural way to wake up where you feel rested and relaxed.
I personally like the application as it allows me to record any metric or feeling that I might have before I sleep and these are customisable. ie. How much I ate, what sort of day I had, how stressed or tired or restless I might be etc.
Sleep Cycle iPhone Application is available from Lexware® Labs or Apple
Open iTunes to buy and download apps.
If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep. ~Dale Carnegie
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF)
Excerpt from National Sleep Foundation continued…
To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, begin by assessing your own individual needs and habits. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good one. Ask yourself, “How often do I get a good night’s sleep?” If the answer is “not often”, then you may need to consider changing your sleep habits or consulting a physician or sleep specialist. When Ellen’s family members began this process, they realized that often they weren’t getting what they would call a “good night’s sleep.” This led each of them to reevaluate how much sleep they needed and whether their sleep habits were healthy ones.
Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. ~Thomas Dekker
To pave the way for better sleep, experts recommend that you and your family members follow these sleep tips:
- Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
- Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep “sleep stealers” out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)
- Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
- Exercise regularly during the day or at least a few hours before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking
If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as sleepiness during the day or when you expect to be awake and alert, snoring, leg cramps or tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, prolonged insomnia or another symptom that is preventing you from sleeping well, you should consult your primary care physician or sleep specialist to determine the underlying cause. You may also try keeping a sleep diary to track your sleep habits over a one- or two-week period and bring the results to your physician.
People who snore always fall asleep first. ~Author Unknown
Most importantly, make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done – stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.
We have listed a number of items you could consider here, some related to NLP and what we might advise in our practice, and some common sense.
What does your body already know
If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, you could also contact your friendly NLP Practitioner who may also be able help to find a way to sleep better, having dealt with the underlying cause, whether the cause is known or unknown. This might be the end of it and you move to a better sleeping pattern.
At the end of the day, sleep is a barometer of your emotional health. And so if you’re not in the right place where you need to be, then you’re going to have voices keeping you up at night because you have to work through those issues.
We have also had clients that we have taught new ways to breathe in preparation for sleeping. With a wrong perception of what deep breathing, and relaxed breathing and useful breathing might be, a person may continue to show signs of sleep apnoea. This is a possibility, but for chronic sufferers, see a specialised service for this condition.
There are many areas that can be looked into during a session. Sleep disorders or troubles can come from so many sources that the possibilities are many. We have had many clients come for something other than sleep, but their sleep is an outcome of fixing an underlying issue elsewhere in their life or body.
A man can do only what he can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day.
Removing or Adding Room Anchors
We can also recommend things such as recognising the anchors of what you do and have in your place of sleep and adjusting them if required. This might be learning new ways to let go, leave the day’s troubles behind you, sort out what might be bothering a person in general, how to breathe effectively, how you find relaxation alternatives for your life and other areas we could discuss. There may also be something (a physical item) that is calming that you might want to move into the room. Consider colours and there effect on your relaxation, where some may enhance and some might inhibit a relaxed state that leads to sound sleep. If these items trigger a thought of something you used to do like yoga, walking, meditation, music, singing or something else, consider taking them up again and see if this improves your sleep quality.
Change of Seasons
Also consider the affects of the change of season in your location and whether this is time to change the bedding weight, the windows, A/C, heating or your clothes, time to head to bed and what you do before you go to bed.
Observe the animals around you, or the ones you may remember as you grew up. For most animals, nothing gets in the way of their sleep. What can we learn by their habits? Except for nocturnal animals, they probably go to bed earlier, wake earlier, rest when they need to, have a 24 hour routine, find the best spot for their needs, and usually think of good things when they sleep. I don’t think sleep troubles many of them. What can we do differently?
Cats have it all – admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it. Rod McKuen
The bed itself
Your bed may be too old, not suiting your body type (maybe it never did, or hasn’t recently), or made with material that you are mildly irritated by, but don’t realise it. A lot may have happened in the last 10 years of your life relating to your size, shape and habits too. If any of these are a possibility, you could consider re-looking at what beds are available these days and getting something that suits your current needs.
With the rise of allergies in general and in some cases imposed by the materials used in manufacturing beds these days, you could also look at the possibility of moving away from synthetic, uncomfortable and/or heat retaining materials – to natural components such as Wool, Latex, Cotton, Coconut, wood (slats). There are even some B&B’s and hotels that advertise the fact that they have some specific beds that may allow you to try before you buy.
We have also recommended that some clients visit their doctor or naturopath (or whatever works for them in their own metaphors for well-being), to see if they have another (medical) underlying cause or if they are in such a state that a sleep deprived person may need some assistance to get a few good nights before they can implement any other changes. You may have a lack of a certain enzyme because of another aspect of your health and the knock-on affect is also your sleep.
If we don’t listen, nature might just take over
If this visiting a doctor doesn’t happen by your planning it, it sometimes happens by itself after an ailment or symptom arises, that ensures that the body gets the rest it needs. You can only stay sleep deprived for so long, and the body says enough is enough. Nature has its way of leveling our plans from time to time and it is when our bodies’ defences are down, we need to finally listen and get rest and sleep. If you have waited for your body to go on strike like this (and demand sleep and rest), it will unfortunately be accompanied by other symptoms.
I was proud of working 18 hours a day and sleeping three hours a night. It’s something now that has turned into a problem for me: not being able to sleep… having insomnia. Puff Daddy
Short cycle sleepers
Despite the few who claim that they do more and achieve great things with little sleep, the high performers are in my opinion rare. Maybe some get to a deep state of sleep quicker and more often. Few of these also add how often they take a 12 hour sleep once in a while, or suffer from regular ailments. If you are one that has regularly less than 6 hours sleep, assess how this averages out with the long sleeps and how often or adjust for the amount of sickness or periods of poor performance you may experience. Is there are correlation between average sleep time and longevity or other measures? Not sure.
Other related articles related to Sleep
Your core rhythm You can’t work if you don’t sleep How we track time
People say, ‘I’m going to sleep now,’
as if it were nothing. But it’s really a bizarre activity. ‘For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I’m going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.’
If you didn’t know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you’d seen.
They had these people, you know? And they would walk around all day and be OK? And then, once a day, usually after dark, they would lie down on these special platforms and become unconscious. They would stop functioning almost completely, except deep in their minds they would have adventures and experiences that were completely impossible in real life. As they lay there, completely vulnerable to their enemies, their only movements were to occasionally shift from one position to another; or, if one of the ‘mind adventures’ got too real, they would sit up and scream and be glad they weren’t unconscious anymore. Then they would drink a lot of coffee.’
So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you’re in a science fiction movie. And whisper, ‘The creature is regenerating itself’.
― George Carlin, Brain Droppings