Why Your Subconscious May Be Able To Give You a Powerful Tool for Doing That--A Good Night's Sleep
Being able to function starts with good sleep--without it you're a mess. Yet pain prevents you from using the reliable sleep advice that works for other people. Here's a possible way out of that dilemma.
Sleep research has shown that the body keeps a meticulous accounting of how much sleep it is owed. Any amount less than what you need gets added to your sleep debt.
For example, if you need eight hours of sleep and only get seven for seven days in a row, at the end of the week you have as much sleep debt as if you had stayed up all night. This impairs health, reduces performance, and puts you at serious risk while driving.
The Importance of Sleep in Pain Relief
The foundation of your ability to function despite your pain is sleep.
If you have chronic pain, sleep debt not only affects you the way it affects everyone else, but also makes your pain seem far worse than when you're rested. This is true regardless of whether you have back pain or pain in the neck or other extremities, arthritis pain, fibromyalgia pain, or neuropathic pain (nerve pain).
The Sleep Dilemma You Face
There's no secret about what it takes to get a good night's rest. Sleep experts concur that you need to go to bed and get up at the same time every day; go to bed in a dark, quiet room; and avoid stimulating foods or activity before bed.
Yet as a person in chronic pain you can do all of that and still have severe sleep problems. Your pain simply won't leave you alone long enough to fall sleep easily or stay asleep for long.
Better Sleep Through Visualization Statements
You may be able to resolve the above dilemma by engaging your subconscious mind through the use of visualization statements.
Visualization statements represent the specific language that your subconscious wants you to read back to it to help ease your pain. They're simple and are targeted directly at the main factors that could bring you relief.
You can obtain these statements by learning how to communicate directly with your own subconscious mind. The process is straightforward and can be done at home by working with a facilitator over the telephone. You you need no special skills and no previous experience in working with the subconscious.
Here are five ways that visualization may be able to help you get better sleep:
1. Finding a comfortable position.
When you have serious pain the biggest problem you face may be that you can't find any position comfortable enough to sleep in. No amount of turning and adjusting can give you relief, so you stay awake until exhaustion completely overtakes you-perhaps hours later.
It's possible to choose what you think might be a comfortable position, such as lying on your side, and use visualization statements to program the subconscious to make that position just comfortable enough for you to fall asleep. If you repeat this statement often enough you may find that within a few days it's not so hard to fall asleep quickly.
2. Staying asleep despite the pain.
Time and again pain may break through your sleep to awaken you. To avoid this it's possible to visualize several different things:
? If cramped muscles are waking you up, you can attempt to program your subconscious to keep your muscles relaxed during sleep.
? If turning over into a particularly painful position is waking you up, you can visualize yourself being free of a desire to turn over in bed.
? If throbbing or stiffness after a certain time in bed is waking you up, you can visualize that your body remains calm and flexible during sleep.
3. Getting back to sleep if you do awaken.
You may be able to fall asleep easily enough but awaken after a few hours--not necessarily from pain, but due to pain meds or other factors that may be disrupting your sleep.
To get back to sleep it's possible to learn what visualization your subconscious would find most relaxing and repeat it to yourself over and over as you lie in bed. For example, your subconscious may simply want you to visualize that every night you attain deep sleep. Or it may indicate a particular phrase that you could repeat.
4. Getting sound and refreshing sleep.
Sometimes you may sleep for eight hours but wake up feeling exhausted. This could be due to any number of factors, one of which may be that your pain prevents you from obtaining the short periods of very deep sleep during the night that are the most restful.
By crafting a visualization statement about sound and refreshing sleep that your subconscious agrees with, you may be able to wake up more energized. This could happen even though you have not specifically identified why your sleep is not sound.
5. Handling the poor sleep of fibromyalgia.
In the special case of fibromyalgia pain the sympathetic nervous system may be creating fight-or-flight type agitation that makes it very difficult for you to sleep.
One approach that seems to work is simply to visualize your body as being free of agitation. Another approach is to work on the specific parts of the body most affected, for example the feet and legs. Yet another is to visualize calm in any situation that may be creating unusual stress--for example a job or a relationship.
A further method is to visualize that the Alpha-2 receptors of your sympathetic nervous system are receptive to catecholamine, a substance that is thought to calm that system down.
Not Being Stopped
Overall, visualization seems to have a positive effect on sleep even when you're in pain. It is necessary to learn what specific language your own subconscious wants to hear about sleep. But once you've deciphered that information you may be able to trigger just enough of a change to help you sleep.
The good news is that if even one of these visualization techniques works for your sleep, it may be able to make the difference between being stopped and not being stopped by your pain.
Ben Plumb is CEO and President of The Visualization Group, Inc. The company's service is delivered by people like himself who personally suffered from years of chronic pain, and used the visualization method described in this article to obtain relief when nothing else worked.