Tag Archives: insomnia

Post Traumatic Stress: PTSD-help to recover

Also known as PTSD – just how common is it? 

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Post traumatic stress PTSD

Recovering from PTSD

Can hypnotherapy help you overcome post-traumatic stress: PTSD?

We’ll look at some facts and symptoms of PTSD, How you can help someone you know who is suffering from this debilitating issue.

We include a look at everyday stress and ask if this can result in PTSD type symptoms.

You may be wondering what are the available treatments.

And how hypnotherapy could be a good option.

What’s the best thing to do next?

Some Post Traumatic Stress facts 

According to *patient UK, 3 in 100 people may develop PTSD in their life time, with 2 out of 3 people getting better without treatment.  It’s not unusual for recovery to take several months after the initial incident.

1 out of 3 people experience PTSD symptoms for much longer, and with treatment, they go on to recover and lead a much more fulfilling life.  The response to treatment will differ from person to person.

Post-traumatic stress is very often attributed to events such as being mugged or attacked, experiencing a natural catastrophe or watching a terrible incident.

Not everyone is affected in the same way.

For example, let’s say two people from the emergency services attended the same distressing incident. One of them may end their shift, pick up the family shopping on their way home, and get on with their life. The other may have found the experience so traumatic, that they require time off work and counselling.

Most people differ when it comes to their threshold level of trauma.

When is the right time to seek more intensive therapy?

The UK National Institute for clinical excellence * (NICE) recommends that

“non-trauma-focused interventions such as relaxation do not address traumatic memories, should not routinely be offered to people who present with PTSD symptoms within three months of a traumatic event.”

Patient UK advice’s that

“if your symptoms are prolonged and moderate or severe, (PTSD) treatment can help you to adjust. If you have severe symptoms 2-4 weeks after the incident, you are likely to need treatment.” 

The importance of empathy for suffers from PTSD 

Being told to pull yourself together is not helpful and pretty counter-productive. Understanding even a little about what’s going on in the brain which causes PTSD may be useful, as you work towards getting better

How a friend or family can help someone suffering from PTSD

  1. Are they showing unusual signs of irritability or flashes of anger?
  2. Listen to the person without interrupting as they relate their experience
  3. What to do if their symptoms continue beyond a month:
  4. If things are getting worse, you could try to encourage them to seek further professional help.

What is the emotional arousal doing?

Post traumatic stress PTSD

The natural survival instinct

Whether you’re directly involved or a bystander, witnessing a traumatic event can have a significant effect on the body’s reactions.

The emotional part of the brain (amygdala) alerts the nervous system which produces copious amounts of adrenaline, in preparation for the fight, flight or freeze response.

As the flow of blood is diverted from other areas of the body, its fuels the muscles to quickly react. You may experience an increase in heartbeat, sweating, tummy upset, dry mouth, and trembling

At the peak of a negative experience, the brain takes a snapshot of your emotions and everything in your environment.  It uses this information to protect you from any perceived danger in the future.

This raw information gets stored in the brain’s amygdala. Unfortunately, that can mean a miscalculation of risk when everything is safe.

*  What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Memories of traumatic occurrences can severely affect people, and specifically those serving in army battle-conditions. These include:

  • ‘flashbacks’ to incidents which can have a significant impact on family life or ability to hold down a job.
  • ‘Flashbacks’ –  of the event can trigger feelings of anxiety and fear.
  • Persistent, recurring thoughts – of the distressing event.
  • Being on high alert – or hyper-arousal means you may experience feelings of anger and irritability – insomnia, nightmares, poor concentration and being easily startled.
  • Avoidance –  staying away from people or places, events or objects that are reminders of the experience.
  • Change in outlook – individuals who have PTSD may only be able to envision a bleak future. They might have less interest in activities they used to enjoy, feel emotionally numb or detached from others.

Can everyday stress develop into PTSD symptoms?

Stress is a common experience for most people.

  • Good Stress, for example, is those feeling which pushes us by energising a creative drive.
  • Survival stress, for instance, can happen when someone faces a real tangible danger. It helps to protect us by giving us the ability to escape or save lives.
  • Modern stress could mean dealing with issues at work, in social relationships, limiting self-beliefs, public speaking, or self-expectations. Some people find specific experiences far more stressful than others.
  • Chronic Inescapable Stress is where the problem that causes stress cannot be resolved by the person quickly. The problem seems never-ending and therefore persists on a daily basis. There is a feeling of no control.

Traumatic Stress can be indicated when the symptoms are apparent in your daily life.

Visiting your General Practitioner

Medical professionals can prescribe medication. They often do this, as the first line of treatment, for anxiety attacks and depression.

The sufferer may feel more able to cope.

For a person to achieve long-term success, the underlying thoughts and triggers need to be resolved.

Choice of therapies can range from Eye Movement Integration (EMI, IEMT, EMDR), or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Other forms of talking therapies may also be advised, for example, counselling.

Hypnotherapy

Not all hypnotherapists work the same.  It’s advisable to have an initial conversation with the therapist, to find out how they work, and what they can offer you.

If it isn’t possible to come to terms with the initial traumatic event, it is possible to remove or ignore the triggers which increase the risk for ‘flashbacks’.

The aim of hypnosis will be to focus on removing the panic and anxious feelings, related to the original event; thus, helping the client to change the inappropriate responses

Quest trained Cognitive Hypnotherapists (QCH)

The approach used by Cognitive Hypnotherapists is evidence based. Drawing upon modern discoveries within hypnotic language, Cognitive theory, NLP, Evolutionary Psychology and Positive Psychology.

As a practitioner, I have trained in the area of Eye Movement Desensitisation (EMI, IEMT) and the REWIND technique.

The approach used by QCH trained hypnotherapists is unique.

If you have a problem with Stress, anxiety or PTSD and would like help to resolve your issue, you may like to think of hypnotherapy as a possible option.

I hope this article helps, even in a small way, to get out there an understanding of this condition. And for anybody suffering from associated symptoms to know that they should not feel shame or guilt because it’s not their fault and they are not alone.

Post traumatic stress PTSD

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

If you’re curious about how Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy could help you contact me directly for an initial no obligation phone conversation.

Reference Sources:

UK Online Patient.info

UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy and therapy finder for your area.

Shift worker and sleep

…functioning at your best

I used to be a shift worker, so understand all to well how difficult it can be to switch our biological clocks from a daytime to night time working mode. If you work shifts you’ll understand that dreaded feeling of ‘jet-lag’ as the body goes through re-adjustments.

In a previous blog I wrote about the symptoms that create the I can’t sleep’ * syndrome if we experience insomnia.   I also introduced readers to the potential of hypnosis and learned tactics that could help them with this issue.

What advice is there out there for shift workers?

Getting the Zzzz's before your night shift?

Shift worker exhaustion

There are of millions of people working night shifts.

If you are a shift worker, we rely so much on you to keep our world turning 24/7.

Those of you who run our emergency hospital care, provide police protection;  look after people in residential care.

There are  air traffic controllers, electrical grid maintenance, even in entertaining us via television transmission.

 

As a shift worker, you could be experiencing sleeping issues

Studies show that shift workers  may suffer:

  • A lack in the quality of sleep
  • Have shorter sleep
  • Have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

One of the reasons is due to the natural circadian rhythm which our bodies follow.

This cycle causes changes in our body temperature, which raises during daylight to promote wakefulness, and drops as the sun goes down, influencing a release of melanin which promotes sleepiness.

So, a shift worker faces the task of working when the body was designed to be in sleeping mode. This means that they may be subjected to drowsiness during their shift which increases potential errors in performance.

What’s the solution?

If your pattern is continually changing and rotating, there’s may  not be a universal magic solution, It’s really down to what works better for you.  Very often people are juggling between working different hours and any other responsibilities they may have at home.

The tips below are just suggestions you may like to try out.

Guidelines you may find helpful:

  1. If you are able to attain the same sleep/waking schedule on your days off then the body is getting a consistent rising time, combine that with regular periods of exercise and social activity then the body temperature rhythm will be synchronised.
  2. Working a shift pattern rotation will be easier if the schedule goes from day shift to evening and then night rather than in the reverse order.
  3. If moving to a new pattern for example an evening to a night you could begin to adjust your bedtime and wake-up times a few days in advance.

* (more information on experimenting on ” what’s best for you” a little later in this blog)

  1. Using bright light boxes, at the start of the ‘day’, can help the body’s internal clock to adjust and make the user more alert on the job and improve job performance.
  2.  Avoid any exposure to bright lights a few hours before you are due to go to bed.
  3. Limit the amount of caffeine on a night shift to just one cup at the beginning, any later and you will impede your ability to fall asleep when you get home.

* Alcohol also disrupts your deep sleep cycle because as it metabolises in your body it will disrupt the cycle of deep sleep, the result being that you feel less than refreshed for your next shift.

  1. At the end of your night shift if it’s daylight outside ensure that you wear dark glasses which helps prevent the sunlight’s effect on increasing your body temperature and alertness.
  2. Drowsiness can occur when driving home after a night shift, this is a potential life hazard, so why risk it?  Instead arrange alternative transport.
  3. Wind down after work, by giving yourself at least one hour before you go to bed to sleep.
  4. Limiting other disruptions to your sleep time.  Turn off the phone and door bell. Get your family or partner on board, fielding any calls or limiting any noises. Explain the importance of your sleep needs to the kids, getting their understanding may help them to help you.
  5. Darken your bedroom with heavy curtains, or a roll-down blackout blind or use an eye mask. Use ear-plugs to limit extraneous noises.            

PLUS…

1. Waking up – taking time to exercise (walking and experiencing the sunshine) other physical activity (the housework, the gardening) whatever energises you gets you ready for a working day.

(*more resources and ideas to experiment with  ” what’s best for you”  coming up!)

Shift work and Insomnia!

Shift working tends to be hardest on insomniacs, who have a sensitive sleep system to begin with, and older people whose body-temperature rhythms have a harder time adjusting than those of younger people.
As a shift worker practising some or all of the tips above may be just what you need to help give you the improvements that you are seeking.

Shift worker solve insomnia

Contact Maria Richards

If however you find that you require more help with your ability to get to sleep or enjoy quality sleep then you could try the 1-2-3 experiment below this article.

Or combine the 1-2-3, with getting in contact for support, and the creation of your very own hypnosis to aid sleep MP3 recording. Working either at my office or across Skype or Zoom as an on-line meeting alternative.

Working together we’d look at helping you overcome your  insomnia. Especially if they are caused by stress and worries from your day.

1, 2, 3 – Experiments you can do PLUS Links to resources in this article…

1.    * Body clocks – light therapy with many clocks at different price ranges
Wake up lights – with accompanying sounds like dawn chorus or seas waves.  The choice is yours – certainly I’ve found these clocks much more preferable to waking up to clanging alarms, or mobile phone reminders and enjoyed the light effect too.

“Interestingly the blue light spectrum is one of the reasons why it’s advisable not to use your laptop or mobile phone in bed before sleep – the blue light spectrum elevates the hormones stimulating wakefulness!”

2. Experiment on what’s best for you:

*  What works best for you could depend on how long your shift is – start time and end time.”

Keeping in mind that altering your sleep pattern a few days in advance is not always easy if you have other personal commitments – then it could be that you need to experiment a little on what works best for you.  A couple of questions to ask yourself would be:

  • Would you find it easier to delay sleep when you first start working shifts, rather than forcing earlier sleep?
  • Would it be better for you to catch some sleep a little later in the day and get up an hour or two before the start of your first night shift?

By experimenting with this in order to fit in your life priorities and following some or all of the 10+1 guidelines above you could find your unique key to improving how you feel as a shift-worker.
* BUPA pages include more on Healthy habits around diet , the household and planning your day as a shift worker.

3. The 3 day warning technique

An example of how to make a physical change to push your sleep in line with your new shift pattern and your body into sync when going from evening to night work. If you are able to structure your days then this idea could be for you,

Usual shift

  • 5:00pm to 1:00am.
  • Bedtime – 3am to 11am
  • Shift begins 5:00pm

If after the pattern finishes you are on a 3-day break, followed by:

New shift pattern starting at 11pm to 7:00am
3 days before start of new shift push your bedtime to a couple of hours later:

  • Day 1 – Bedtime           5am to 1:00pm
  • Day 2 – Bedtime           7am to 3:00pm
  • Day 3- Bedtime            8am to 4:00pm
  • Start the new shift     11pm to 7:00am
  • Day 4-Bedtime  9am to 5:00pm  and on every day after during that new shift cycle.

*Source: Best Heath Magazine report on altering your sleep pattern over a few days before a shift-change at work

 

Can’t sleep? Hypnotherapy helps…

Exhaustion cause of lack of sleep

Help I can’t sleep!

‘I can’t sleep’ may be one of the frustrating mantra’s you find yourself saying as you lay awake staring at the ceiling on most nights .

I’ve  seen many people that struggle with sleep for many different reasons, especially when we are also subject to the hectic pace of London living.

We all need sleep to function adequately and most of us need 6-8 hours every night.

If we lose one single night of sleep, we can generally recover within a few days, but long term reduced sleep is just not so easy to conquer.

Sleeping disorders affects the sleep of millions all over the world.

The worst thing about this condition is that there may be no distinct reason for the sleep loss.

If your bed feels nice and the environment is quiet, you’re snug and you don’t actually feel anxious, why is it that you find yourself saying ‘not again,  I can’t sleep.’

There are as a rule very simple reasons for insomnia and that’s around something also known as general sleep hygiene and habits.

What if my issue with Insomnia is becoming prolonged?  – the stress factor.

Symptoms of insomnia  can be:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty sleeping at all,
  • waking up early in the morning
  • waking up during the night time
  • disturbed or stressed sleep
  • finding daily function difficult because of tiredness
  • mood swings and low concentration through the day

For a lot of people  daily tension, stress and anxiety are the reasons why their sleep is affected and the consequences manifest themselves both consciously and unconsciously: this means we are dealing with two levels of mind every time we try to go to sleep.

On a conscious level, the majority of us will have experienced the issue of a busy mind in bed, when you simply cannot turn off and all of the day’s thoughts and stresses spin around ceaselessly. Lots of people end up drifting off to sleep through mental exhaustion.

Whilst other people encounter panic attacks in the night without identifying what is happening to them and which is actually the result of absorbing their worries through the day which then affects them on an unconscious level.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help people to finally get some enjoyable sleep.

Becoming aware of this problem is good but not always helpful if we don’t understand what we could be doing about it.

The last thing we want is to find we’ve  become  anxious about going to bed.

“With very little idea about how to control these symptoms, we can be left feeling weary and sometimes distressed .”

Ah...finally a good night's sleep

Ah…finally a good night’s sleep.

 So let’s find what the ‘I can’t sleep’ is about

By deciding to do something more constructive about this problem you and I would be looking at the underlying issues causing your condition.

You’ll  learn  how to make  improvements in your environment and for yourself, giving you the solution to take back control of your sleeping pattern.

…and also have hope because because with more understanding and learned tactics you’ll be sending a message to your unconscious mind to aid you. So the ‘I can’t sleep’ doesn’t even have time to filter through to your conscious thinking any more.

Our one to one sessions, be that at my office or over an on-line web meeting, will include hypnosis on an MP3 recording at night. Before you know it you’ve made a  valuable change that can positively impact many aspects of your life.

If you are concerned about your insomnia here’s an opportunity to do something about it – imagine a time in the not too distant future when you could be going to bed and ‘sleeping ‘ successfully.

Knowing that you ‘can sleep’  by obtaining the core cycle of deep sleep that your body requires means that you’re  waking feeling  refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.

To set up an initial phone chat, were we can explore how Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help you, make contact here:  

Or click here if you’re a shift worker – this blog has many tips and experiments.

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Contact me