Often, when we talk about improving our sleep, the topic of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) comes up.
Instead of diving into the “official” definition of NLP (which is easy enough to find in Wikipedia), I’ll give you my interpretation of NLP and it’s use in managing sleep. The two are related, but one is a whole philosophy and therapy, while the other is just a “technique”. We’re interested in the technique.
NLP was very big in the 70′s and 80′s, but has since been put into disrepute – it’s often called pseudo-science or rubbish. I can agree with it’s detractors on the grander claims of this therapy, but for sleep I’ve found that it’s quite effective.
The whole idea about NLP and sleep is to take control of your thoughts. What you say to yourself becomes a reality for yourself. Some of the most powerful sleep enhancement techniques I’ve discovered involve “talking to myself” and changing my own beliefs – note that there’s no “therapist” involved here at all.
Here are some of the prevalent thoughts I had before using this angle on NLP:
- The harder I try, the less I sleep.
- I’ll be a wreck in the morning if I don’t get to sleep in the next twenty minutes.
- This sleep isn’t getting better – it’s getting worse.
- I cannot function if I don’t get at least six hours of sleep tonight.
Now here’s what I say to myself today:
- If I sleep or don’t sleep, it’s not that big a deal. One or two nights is a non issue.
- I will function just fine tomorrow regardless of how much I sleep last night (notice I didn’t say “how little I sleep last night”).
- My sleep has continued to improve. I may have ups and downs, but the trend is good.
- If all I do is lay here and relax, I’ll perform just fine in the morning.
The secret to success with the NLP-like “training” is to change every negative thought you have about your sleep into a positive one.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking these negative thoughts – change them into positive ones. If you do this consciously for a couple of weeks, you’ll forget all the negative stuff, and will continue to reinforce the positive ones. And then you’ll find that your sleep improves.
There’s a vicious cycle of “sleep talk” that reinforces itself. Use that same cycle, turn it around, and have it reinforce your positive thinking about sleep.