Sleep! I need it, you need it. All animals need to sleep – even though being in an unconscious state could compromise safety. Why is sleep so important? Why is sleep a need, a must have?
During sleep, the conscious mind is switched off; it therefore looks as if there are certain functions which the brain undertakes only when we are unconscious. The conscious mind contributes to about 10% of the body’s control function – the other 90% is subconsciously controlled. The conscious mind is involved in making decisions so that things happen voluntarily; it is involved in ensuring our awareness of the world and our relationship to it, and in forming memory. It seems as if switching off the conscious mind during sleep is important for mental rejuvenation and regeneration and also for integrating certain memories into normal life practice. For example, riding a bike, baking a cake, playing a musical instrument.
We know that brain wave activity during sleep is very slow – typically 1-4kH/sec. We also know that as brain wave activity reduces, stress hormone release reduces, too, so as we become more and more relaxed, nervous activity reduces. We know that conscious thinking reduces as we relax and, if levels of stress hormones are down, then it seems logical that subconscious nervous activity reduces, too. Nervous activity comprises the ‘firing’ of neurons which make up the nervous system, so there are fewer nervous connections being made which means the brain can relax along with the rest of the nervous system. It’s my belief that the relaxed subconscious allows the suggested changes which are spoken to the brain during hypnotherapy to be internalised which is the reason why there is a change in behaviour.
So although hypnotherapy isn’t delivered whilst the subject is asleep, the level of brain-wave activity and the number of neurons which are being activated is very low. If the subconscious mind internalises suggestions given when relaxed, then hypnotherapy is a good therapy to help people who cannot sleep. Similarly, hypnotherapy is one of the best therapies for anxiety and stress as it actively encourages the brain to slow down and therefore the body reduces the amount of stress hormones being released.