"Say Goodnight to Insomnia." It's a great title, huh? I thank my PR lady for that one. And it's all going to be about how to overcome the symptoms of insomnia based on my experience of using these specific techniques with clients. And just like Vince McMahon, I would never offer something to you that I have not tried with my clients or on myself and have a basis of evidence that it has worked. And all of these techniques I'm going to teach you today, I have used with clients to help them overcome insomnia.
And something, I'll tell you what my definition of insomnia is or what really insomnia is when you break it down. Insomnia is essentially bringing anxiety to bed. And when anxiety is in bed with you, a very, very bad bedmate. They'll keep you up all night with a lot of internal dialogue of potentially catastrophizing events in the future and ruminating with obsessive thoughts over and over again. But essentially, breaking it down, it's taken insomnia to bed. So, everyone I've ever worked with, with a sleeping disorder had some kind of anxiety. Some kind of thing that they were not dealing with in their normal waking everyday state. They have 16 hours of a day and because they didn't deal with it, it came out to roost, so to speak, on their beds or in their beds every night. This is good to take care of shit. That's the moral of the story in the other 16 hours that you're awake.
So, I'm gonna share a story with you from a lady that I met a few years ago at the Canadian Hypnosis Conference. She had attended a seminar that I was running there on the hypnosis. And she contacted me a couple of weeks later and she said, "Luke, I suffer from insomnia. I've suffered from it for 30 years. I've been through other hypnotists and nothing's worked. You know, I take a lot of Ambien and all this kind of stuff and nothing seems to work in order to help me get to sleep." And I'm a hypnotist, which a side note for other hypnotists usually when we hear that someone is a hypnotist, it generally makes a lot of other hypnotists shy away from doing work with them because we feel on some insecure level that they know how all these tricks are done. Not that anything that we do is tricks, but it's all tricks. But so is your frigging problem. It's simply a trick of your mind that you've been sucked into, believe in, and you've done it so long that you actually think it's real and all it is the trick or an illusion.
So, back onto this client, we'll call her Jean that wasn't really her name. So, I realized that she had spent 30 years with this problem. I realized there was going to be some resistance because she tried hypnosis before and it hadn't worked. And she was a hypnotist. So, she was going to come in probably with a mindset of analyzing the techniques that we're going to do as opposed to just simply listening and following my instructions. So, she came in for the first session and we spent about an hour together. And if I'm honest with you, by the end of the session, I'd phone, a bunch of things at her to try and help her, and I hadn't really felt that anything could stuck or anything had worked, to be honest with you. And she came back in for the second session and she reported as such issue like, "Yeah, you know, you said some nice words, what have you, but I've heard it all before, and yeah, I'm still having sleeping issues." By the way, this lady only booked two sessions with me.
I'm like, "Okay, let's think outside the box here. What would Dr. Milton Erickson do? The greatest hypnotist of all time? What would Dr. Richard Bandler do? The crater of neuro-linguistic programming." I'm like, "You know what, I'm going to make it worse for her. I'm going to give her an ordeal. I'm going to give her a challenge." So, in the second session had nothing to lose. Nothing had worked so far and I simply gave her this challenge. And the challenge was this. I said, "Jean, do you want to play a game? She's like, "Man, okay, all right." And I'm like, "You don't have to play this game. You don't have to do this. It's simply a game. It's simply a challenge. I'm simply throwing down the gauntlet. If you choose to pick it up, awesome. But you do not have to." She's like, "All right." And I'm like, "You've said to me that you have never, or certainly within the last 30 years, had a decent night's sleep without taking a shit load, her word of Ambien." She said, "Correct."
I'm like, "Well, here's an interesting thing. Of all the people I've ever worked with, with sleep-related issues, I've never found one of them in 22 years that could stay awake for more than three days in a row." And let me define what I mean by "staying awake." I mean, no naps, no micro naps, no one-minute naps, no 5 minutes, no 10 minutes, no sleeping in, no sleeping in a day. I never met somebody in my work with people as a change artist in 22 years that could stay awake for more than three days. Never found it. I'm sure these people exist, but I have simply never met them in all the years I've been working with people with these issues.
So I simply said to her, the challenge is you've got it if you choose to accept it, your challenge just to stay awake for three days. No naps, no sleeping in, no micro naps, no little naps. Obviously, make sure you're safe and, you know, you're not driving your car around or operating heavy machinery. She was pretty much at her home most of the time. She's a retired lady for the most part. You just got to stay awake for three days, and I think you'll be surprised that your problem will be gone. After that it will evaporate, it will self-regulate. And she looked at me like I was a lunatic. And she's like, "Okay," begrudgingly." And I said, "Oh, and every morning, the next three mornings or so, I want you to send me a text message. And, you know, let me know what happened the night before." She's like, "Okay." And remember this was the second and final session. All the traditional stuff that I learned hadn't worked with her.
So, fast forward, 24 hours later until the next morning, I received a funny email, excuse me, funny text messages from her. She goes, "You know, that was a cockamamie thing you asked me to do yesterday, but you know what? You challenged me. And I'm like, you know, I'm not going to let this guy challenge me and not do anything about it." So, I said, "You I'm going to prove to him that I can do this. And I went for 21 hours, then I fell asleep. Not 48 hours, not even 24 hours, not even 72 hours, 21 hours, and she fell asleep. And she said, "I slept for, I think, it was 7 to 8 hours. It's the only time I've been able to sleep for 7 to 8 hours without Ambien. Even with Ambien, couldn't sleep that long in the last 30 years." And then she messaged me back the next day. She goes, "It happened again. I've just slept for 8 hours. No drugs, no narcotics. I just slept. I thought it was crazy idea that you gave me, but I was like, I'd be damned if I wasn't going to prove you wrong."
And she messaged me back the next day. She's like, "This is three days in a row. I know as a hypnotist, this is a pattern now, this is who I am, and I'm sleeping fine." And as far as I know, the problem itself corrected from that moment forward. Why did it work? Well, she was so worried about going to bed. She got anxious about it. She was like projecting, well, if I can't sleep, I won't be able to do this and that and the devil knows what tomorrow. So, I took all that away from her. And everyone else had tried to get her to go to sleep. She tried to get herself to go to sleep, forced herself to go to sleep. And she had built up so much resistance over 30 years. Like I do with everything in my life, I see what everyone else does. I don't want to be like everyone else and I go in the opposite direction. So, I told her to do the opposite of what everyone had already done. Much the same way I did.
I remember reading a story about Milton Erickson, regarded by many as the greatest hypnotist that ever existed. And he would often get two people in who wanted to lose weight. And in the very first session, what he'd asked them to do between session one and two was they wanted to lose weight, but they couldn't lose weight. So, he'd specifically tell them over the next week you've got to gain two pounds, not one pound, not three pound, not five pounds, not half a pound, not zero pounds. Over the next week, you are to gain whatever it was. I think it was two pounds. And they would look at him like he was crazy. And they'd come back in, and either they achieved the result, and they gained two pounds, in which case it proved that they could control their body, and they could control their metabolism, and they're eating. Because they didn't gain one pound, they didn't gain three pounds, they didn't gain five pounds. They gained exactly two pounds. So, they had control. And one of the presupposition was they control could control exactly how much weight they gained in a week, which isn't easy for the exact amount. It was a lot easier then to start to get them to do the opposite, which was release the weight.
Alternatively, if they didn't gain the two pounds or whatever it was that he'd suggested, it was like one to three pounds, they were to end up losing weight because he had mismatched them and they would do the opposite. Because they were so used to people saying, "Oh, well you want to lose weight, do this, do this to lose weight." And they tried it. You know, people don't come to a hypnotist as the first result. The first result oftentimes is to get rid of their problems. And by him asking them to do the opposite, they mismatched it. So, instead of everyone saying lose weight and then gaining weight, he said, "Well, gain weight and they come back in and lose weight."
So, it was an interesting thing. Whether it worked as a placebo, whether it worked purely a suggestion, who knows? The fact of the matter is, it just worked. Much like my suggestion to this lady, my ordeal to quote Jay Haley, my "Throwing Down the Gauntlet" and achieved it. So, the first protocol is, and do this obviously with your own discretion, please do not be operating any heavy machinery, cars, or anything like that. But if you have been suffering from a sleep disorder and nothing else has worked, you've gone to your doctor, perhaps you've been using medication, but nothing's worked for you, then I'll throw down the gauntlet to you. Again, like I say, as long as you're safe is, I've never ever met somebody who could be awake for three days.
Remember, this is no naps, this is no micro naps, this is no 5-minute naps, 10-minute naps, 20-minutes naps, 1-minute naps. This is no sleeping in. This is you have to stay awake for three days. Try it. If you could be safe in a safe environment to do that, do it. And I pretty much in my experience of seeing thousands and thousands of clients, many clients with sleep-related disorders, if you can make it through three days without using another drug to keep you up that whole time, then you'll go to sleep. There's no question that you'll go to sleep. You will go to sleep. And when you listen to these podcasts, you probably also don't want to be driving your car or operating machinery. Make sure you're safe, so you can go to sleep. So, that's the first port of call. It's an ordeal. It always works. I've never had that one not work.
The second technique, and some of these techniques I got from Melissa Tiers and some of her work, it comes from slip, excuse me, six-step tapping routine, but we don't want to wake you up. We don't want to make you too excitable in bed unless you're doing something else. So, rather than actually tapping the spots, some recent studies have shown actually an actual work that I've done with clients is actually imagine tapping some of these spots has the same effect as tapping these spots. Again, this is coming from Thought Field Therapy. Imagine slowly tapping the forehead and as you slowly tap the forehead, slowly inside your mind of your sleepiest voice say, "I release and let go so I can sleep now." Then go ahead and tap the side of your eye slowly in your mind you tap it, not with your hand and you simply say, "I release and let go so can I sleep now." Tap in your mind imagine, remember you're doing this with your imagination. Then tap below your eye in your imagination, not with your hands, just imagine you're doing it. And as you tap to below your eye you say, "Release and let go so I can sleep now."
And once you've done that, just imagine that you slowly tap your solar plexus and say, "I release and let go so I can sleep now." And then simply imagine just holding your wrist and taking a big deep tummy breath in and taking twice as long to breathe out. Do that twice before you go to bed. I've had clients just simply use that technique of imagined. Imagine tapping in those five spots, yes, I said six or because I was thinking of something else, but it's five. And that in of itself worked. And remember it's an imagined tapping. You're not actually tapping those spots because we don't want to over stimulate your body or your system. It works very, very well. So, these techniques I'm going to teach you today, any one of them can work with this, but I'm going to give you quite a few of them so you can point quite a few at your own problem of insomnia.
The next technique I'm gonna teach you is...again, these are to use before you go to bed or as you're in bed. The next technique is what I call heart breathing. Just imagine that you're focusing now around your heart. Imagine breathing through your heart. And as you do that, if you find your mind wanders, just bring your mind back to your heart and breathe. Breathing into your heart and breathing out. Breathing into your heart and out. Breathing into your heart and out. And go ahead and imagine holding your wrist. That's right. So, that's heart breathing. Another technique that you can do. Remembering that you're doing all these techniques with your eyes closed in a safe environment. How the heart breathing seems to work is it appears that it takes you from sympathetic nervous system flight, fight or freeze to parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest. Or to throw some neuroscience at you, it appears it takes you from your beta brainwave state, which is the waking state through alpha, which is, think about being present in this very moment, Power of Now kind of stuff, all the way into feta, which is the brainwave most associated with sleep.
So, what's that like? Three techniques so far. Another technique which is great is peripheral vision, which is going into bed. And when you go to bed, you are on your beds lying, facing the ceiling, and you focus on a spot above you and slightly behind you, but keeping your head still. And as you go into that spot of peripheral vision, you look at one spot, which is phobia [SP] vision, then you expand your awareness. You expand your awareness to both sides, both walls adjacent to you. So, your awareness, even though you're looking at one spot above you and slightly behind and keeping your head still, you're aware of both walls to each side of you. You're aware of the floor. You're aware of where the ceiling and the floor intersect. You're aware of your bed. You're aware of what's completely underneath you, your bed supporting you. So, you've got 360 degrees awareness. And when you go into peripheral vision, expanding your awareness, it tends to shut off that inner voice, that inner dialogue inside and really, which is a great thing to do before you go to sleep. You should shut down that critical voice that's telling you to stay up, all that you want be out of sleep. It works very, very well.
Another fantastic way of shutting down voice, that critic inside that says, "Oh, you can't sleep. What's going to happen tomorrow when you wake up with no sleep?" And all that kind of nonsense is to, and you can do this now, have a thought, you know, like that one just coming into your head, and then get your tongue, and push the tongue all the way to the top bridge of your mouth. Actually, push your tongue to the bridge of your mouth and keep it touching there. And as you continue to do that, notice if you haven't noticed already that internal voice just shuts off, or slows all the way. That's right. It's another really quick way of shutting down that internal voice that can keep us up at night. Just by pushing your tongue to the upper bridge of your mouth. What's that? Four techniques now.
Okay. The fifth technique. And again, you're doing this at night when you're in bed when you're about to go to sleep. Don't be doing this if you're driving your car or operating heavy machinery, and stuff like that. I'm not going to say that anymore. You get the point. All right? So, imagine now it's nighttime. You get into bed, you've done the peripheral vision. You've done the imagined tapping. You've done the heart breathing. And you've done the tongue to the bridge of your mouth to quiet that inner critic. Another great technique is to open and close your eyes and see the number 50. And then open and close your eyes and see the number 49. And open and close your eyes and see the number 48. And as you continue to do this, I want you to say inside your mind very slowly, "I'm falling asleep." So, every time you open your eyes, slowly you close your eyes, you see the next number down, 47, "Falling asleep." And then you just do that until you fall asleep. It works very, very powerfully. So, it's 50 to zero, open your eyes, close your eyes, see the number, say to yourself, "I'm falling asleep." Open your eyes, clear that screen inside your mind, see the next number, "I'm falling asleep." So, eventually, you will fall asleep. It seems like something childish that you do with a child, but it does work. I've had it work with clients, it is very powerful.
So, after you've done all that, those six techniques I believe so far, another great one to do is after you've done the imaginary tap, and you've done the peripheral vision, if you've needed to stay up for three days, you've done that under your own supervision. You've done the heart breathing, you've done the 50 to zero countdown, "I'm falling asleep." Another good thing to do is after you've done all that, just imagine that there is a big box, a big chest outside your bedroom, and you're going to put all your thoughts, all your thoughts, into that box. Now they'll still be there if you need them when you wake up tomorrow morning. But when you step into your bedroom, maybe even want to buy one of these ones, put a little box outside like a laundry kind of box. Or maybe you just have a nice armoire outside. Just imagine and you don't have to buy one at all, you can just imagine it. But just imagine that you've put all your thoughts into that box. They'll be there waiting for you. The good thoughts at least tomorrow morning when you wake up, they're not going to go anywhere. But just imagine you're doing that, almost like you're taking out the trash. You're taking out all those thoughts, you're putting it into that heavy box, that armoire, that laundry basket with a lid on it, and it will be there tomorrow. The good ones, if you need them.
So, there's six or seven really powerful techniques. All you need is one. All you need is one of those things to work. I've just given you seven of those. So, if you use those daily, it will help you unquestionably when it comes to falling asleep. And what you might want to do is you might want to change the order of those exercises as well. So, let's go over those exercises one more time. There's the, if it's appropriate, staying awake for up to three days. There's the peripheral vision. Find a spot above you allowing your awareness to go out, it slows down that voice inside your head, you can't feel negative emotion from that. There's the pushing the tongue to the upper bridge of your mouth. And as you're doing it, it shuts off the internal dialogue. There's the heart breathing. It takes you from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system. There's the 50 to zero counting down deeper asleep. There's the imagined tapping. Yes, that one. Imagine tapping that spot and saying, "I release and let go so I can sleep now." And there's that last technique of imagining that you're putting all your thoughts inside a box outside of your bedroom. They will be there, at least the good ones when you wake up tomorrow. They'll be there so you're not gonna miss out on anything.
So, play around with the order of those things. You find the order, the syntax that works for you. But there are seven techniques there for you to use to help you to fall asleep now.
Luke Michael Howard CHT