Reap the benefits of proper sleep

Sleep is something we all need and many say they can get by with fewer hours than others. Then there is the teenage situation: we all know how hard it is to get a teenager out of bed on a school day! texting-in-bed

In fact, just recently, UK researchers have suggested starting the school day at 10am could have major benefits for teenagers. Research suggests that society pays too little attention to our ‘body clock’ and adolescents, in particular, have a late-running biological rhythm.

This means insisting on an early start can cause sleep deprivation, which in turn can affect learning and health, the BBC reported. Dr Paul Kelley said that adolescents effectively lose up to two hours of sleep per day, which is ‘a huge society issue’.

He and colleagues from Oxford are leading a project called Teensleep, which is currently recruiting 100 schools from around the UK to take part in what he calls called ‘the world’s largest randomised control trial’, due to commence in 2016.

The experiment will randomly assign its 100 schools into four groups. One group of schools will shift their school days for 14- to 16-year-olds to a 10am start; another group will offer ‘sleep education’ to their students – helping students and staff realise sensible ways of making their sleep good sleep. A third group of schools will introduce both a later start and sleep education, while a fourth, the control group, will make no such changes.

It is well documented that there are many things which cause disrupted sleep – ranging from late-night TV or screen watching and the wrong diet or drink to anxiety and stress. All of this can cause insomnia and have an effect on daily life.

Better than medication or diet changes to cure this is hypnotherapy which has a good track record in this regard.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH), a not-for-profit organisation with a large directory of highly-qualified therapists across the UK, says insomniacs generally respond very well to hypnosis.

A hypnotherapist can create a programme of personalised treatment that identifies the client’s sleeping patterns and teaches self-management techniques which make a big difference not just to how long they sleep but the quality of sleep they enjoy.

Research shows that hypnosis combined with cognitive behavioural therapy is the most effective treatment for insomnia.

Our body clock is a daily cycle which drives the regular rise and fall of certain genes as well as the ebb and flow of our cognitive performance, our metabolism and so on. But, for much of our lives – and especially in adolescence, there is a mismatch between this rhythm and the typical working day.

Teensleep’s Kelley said the body clock of most people between age 10 and 55 is not well suited to rising early.

“Most people wake up to alarms, because they don’t naturally wake up at the time when they have to get up and go to work. So we’ve got a sleep deprived society – it’s just that this age group, say 14-24 in particular, is more deprived than any other sector.”

But Derk-Jan Dijk, a professor of sleep and physiology at the University of Surrey, has cautioned that shifting the school day. This, he told the BBC, might be of limited use without changing other habits that affect our sleep, especially night-time light exposure.

“It is clear that these adolescents tend to drift later. And many of them will probably prefer to start later. But why do adolescents like to sleep in later and go to bed later?

“There is undoubtedly a biological component, but that interacts with our artificial light environment. If we can’t change that, then is delaying school times the best solution? Because that way you might not solve the problem – you might shift them even later.”

It is worth trying hypnotherapy though. The NCH says following sessions with a hypnotherapist, a person may feel more confident and more relaxed in situations that have previously been challenging.

“Many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily. People who have experienced side effects of anxiety such as insomnia, find that they are sleeping much better and as a result are able to work more effectively,” the NCH said.

Want to give it a try? Why not use the NCH directory (by clicking here) to find a therapist near you.

Hypnosis is just a natural state of mind. It’s similar to drifting off to sleep at night, that stage when you are not quite awake and not quite asleep, you may feel a sense of weightlessness or you may feel heaviness as all your muscles relax. Everyone experiences it differently, and your therapist will be able to reassure you and help you relax and enjoy the experience.