Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro. Shapiro noted that when she was experiencing a disturbing thought her eyes were involuntarily moving rapidly. She noticed further that when she brought her eye movements under voluntary control while thinking a traumatic thought, the anxiety was reduced. Shapiro developed EMDR therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. She speculated that traumatic events “upset the excitatory/inhibitory balance in the brain, causing a pathological change in the neural elements. Today EMDR is seen as a powerful new psychotherapy technique which has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, insomnia, post-traumatic stress and many other emotional problems. Until recently, these conditions were difficult and time-consuming to treat. EMDR is considered a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it can bring quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress. EMDR was rated as an effective method, not significantly different in effect from Trauma-Focused CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or SM (Stress Management) treatments. Yet EMDR has generated a great deal of controversy since its inception in 1989. Critics of EMDR argue that the eye movements do not play a central role, that the mechanisms of eye movements are speculative, and that the theory leading to the practice is not falsifiable and therefore not amenable to scientific inquiry. As many patients have reported less anxiety, irritability, stress, anger and other negative emotions after 1-12 EMDR treatments it has also been tested and used in treating insomnia.  Following example gives an idea how EMDR could work in treating insomnia.

EMDR in action

Lay on your bed in a dark room. Keep your eyes first open and move your eyes slowly from right to left like between two clear spots. Keep on moving eyes similarly around 2-3 minutes. Then close your eyes and move your eyes slowly from right to left like between two clear spots. Keep doing this around 5-10 minutes or until your feel very sleepy / fall asleep.

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Compassion focused therapy

Compassion Focused Therapy, also known as Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) has been developed to help individuals who experience high levels of shame and self-criticism. CFT increases awareness and understanding of the automatic reactions all humans have always experienced, and which the individual has also learned from early childhood. The key principles of CFT are to motivate the individual to care for their own well being, to become sensitive to their own needs and distress, and to extend warmth, compassion and understanding towards themselves. Research suggests that teaching people to develop compassion can reduce shame and self-criticism, as well as lead to improvements in other psychiatric symptoms. People with poor sleep sometimes tend to be very guilty of self-judgemental . We would beat ourselves up for something in the past that we felt we should have done or could have done differently. Some of us are particularly talented at harsh self-criticism. An alternative view is to feel more emphatic towards others, and most importantly, towards ourselves. We could try to remember that they are doing the best they can with the resources they have at the time. We are always going to receive resources in the future. Of course if we had them in the past, we would have acted differently. However, we did not have them in the past. We have them now. So these new resources are for now and for the future. The first step to forgive yourself, when you come across a memory in which you think you should have acted differently, is to tell yourself: “At the time I was doing the best I could with what I knew and what I had.” At the same time, incorporate the new knowledge to change your future behaviour. CFT hypothesises that if people can then begin to shift their sense of there being something bad about them, they will be better equipped to develop improved emotional regulation and a positive sense of self. Developing a ‘compassionate self’ becomes the next task, enabling us to prepare and engage with ourselves with a calm and peaceful mind.

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Warmth and touch

Warmth and touch are not only necessary preconditions for the development of a child but equally important for the well being of adults. Our brains react strongly to touch, closeness and intimacy. If we feel safe and balmy, this effectively balances our wired state of mind. Appropriate amounts of closeness vary by individual and time. It’s about learning what, when and how it is right for us. Sometimes solitude is the right answer to find peaceful mind. Often we don’t have a desired or suitable partner at hand. It’s good to remember that we always have ourselves. We can learn to be more appreciative, merciful and gentle towards ourselves. We can learn to pamper ourselves. We can organise our environment and life conditions to be as lenient and genial as possible. Sleep hygiene ‘rules’ suggest that a cool room is best for sleep. If, however, you feel better in warmer room, give yourself a warmer room (if you financially can stretch). Listen to yourself. Even more so, talk nicely to yourself. Saying good things to ourselves, can have big impact how we start feel about life, us and our happiness. One suggested exercise is to say something nice and gentle to your mirror after brushing your teeth as a kind of positive closure to the day. This can sound totally nuts but routines like this will eventually impact how we feel at peace with ourselves.

NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming)

NLP asserts a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”), and behavioural patterns learned through experience (“programming”) that proponents speculate can be changed to achieve specific goals in life. The balance of scientific evidence reveals NLP to be a largely discredited pseudoscience yet many people find relief from NLP methods. In short, NLP is the study and teaching of patterns to achieve positive change. It has numerous stress reduction techniques and can therefore help poor sleep stemming from stress or poor stress management skills. When treating insomnia, NLP focusses on behavioural changes on unconscious level.

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Music therapy

Music has been used as a tool of healing for various problems since ancient times, appearing in the writings of Pythagoras, Aristotle and Plato. These sessions may be designed for individuals or groups based on the specific needs of the participants. Proponents claim that infants, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly may all potentially benefit from music therapy. Studies have shown that music may significantly improve sleep quality and duration, as well as reduce the time needed to fall asleep, sleep disturbance, and daytime dysfunction. Deep relaxation CDs range (and a bit less, high quality youtube clips) from guided relaxation technique which combine spoken words with “sound therapy” designed to tug you successively deeper into sleep, to instrumental music creations, which provide soothing and pleasing sounds and work to create an atmosphere that inspires relaxation and relief free from spoken words. The field of research devoted to neuroacoustic sound therapy is devoted to the use of music and sounds as therapeutic tools applicable to a variety of psychological problems. Music CDs promoting sleep are based on this concept—that music and soundscape can be designed as viable therapy for insomnia sufferers. More: British association for music therapy

Some higher quality CDs available in Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Travelers-Sleep-Relaxation-Company-Center/dp/1559617780 (Sleep relaxation kit with neuroacoustic therapeutic music) http://www.amazon.com/Just-Relax-Relaxing-meditation-relaxation/dp/B00007FPKD (guided meditation for sleep: sound therapy for healing) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000650Q76/ (deep relaxation)

Colour therapy (or Chromotherapy)

Colour therapists believe that the seven colours of the rainbow relate to the body’s seven main chakras. Light moves in waves of varying lengths and, as each colour has a different wavelength, we sense them all individually. Colour therapists believe that different colours in the spectrum correspond with the body’s inner vibrations. If your vibrations are off balance, therapists believe that colour can rebalance them if treated with the right colours. Colour therapy is administered in several ways. In many treatments coloured lights are shone on the body or coloured silks are worn. Other practitioners use different coloured liquids in bottles or small torches with coloured beams that are pointed at the relevant acupressure (also known as colour-puncture) points. Color has been used therapeutically for thousands of years. It has been an important element of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Egyptian medical therapies. Goethe’s 1820 book, theory of Colours, related colour with Hippocratic medicine. Today, however, it is seen as pseudoscientific practice, since it does not employ the scientific method. The International Association of Colour (IAC) is a professional association for colour therapy practitioners, students and colour training centre.

White noise

White noise is a type of noise that is produced by combining sounds of all different frequencies together. If you took all of the imaginable tones that a human can hear and combined them together, you would have white noise. Electrically generated ‘white noise’ machines have been proved to seemingly neutralizing other noises or intensifying particular sounds. In situations where traffic or neighbourhood noises prevent sleep, some ‘white noise boxes’ have proved very useful in neutralizing certain disturbing sounds. Test a free noise generator in the internet.

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