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Autogenic Training for Insomnia

Autogenic training is really just a way of saying "healing coming from within." We love this idea, because it revolves around the same idea as acupuncture - a way to stimulate the body into healing itself.

Insomnia in particular responds well to autogenic training, and studies have proven that those diagnosed with insomnia are able to become normal sleepers for the rest of their lives. What are normal sleepers? Generally, it is a sign of health to fall asleep within 10 to 20 minutes, and either stay asleep or wake once to use the bathroom, then fall back asleep within 10 to 20 minutes again. It is also normal to have periods of sleeplessness during time of stress, transition, or on vacation, especially when there is jet lag involved.

So what's the catch to autogenic training? It takes six weeks of practice and training to fall asleep regularly and wake rested. Generally, though, people begin to feel better within one to weeks.

Autogenic training is a self-guided meditation you can do when you get into bed to sleep. You focus on your feet and then imagine them feeling heavy, warm, or numb. Then you move up your body slowly, imagining the same sensations. If you have trouble understanding how to implement this, here's a wonderful video of an autogenic training script.

For the best results, practice this script once during the day. Try it at lunch time, even as you're just sitting down to eat. Try it as you're taking a walk. Obviously, please do not do the script while you are driving, operating machinery or biking.

In addition to autogenic training, make sure you're doing the following things to get a good night's rest:

  • No caffeine after 2 p.m., or no caffeine at least 6 to 7 hours before bed.

  • Do not eat close to bedtime.

  • No nicotine before bed

  • Limit alcohol before bed as well. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy initially, it does wake you up more at night

  • If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up. Read a book that's not overly stimulating, or do something mundane but not overly stressful on the body (like folding clothes). Sense your own cues of sleepiness - do your eyes get heavy? Do you feel your breathing slow? Sink into those sensations, and once you feel them again, go back to bed and try to sleep again.

  • If you have trouble relaxing, take a hot shower or drink a cup of hot tea two hours before bed. This will relax you and raise your body temperature, and then cause a sharp fall into body temperature. The cooler temperature will signal to your body that you are ready for sleep

  • Keep a sleep diary. Note what you did during the day to support a good night's rest, and then the following morning, write how many hours you slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, and how many times you woke up. Many people can feel like their sleep isn't improving, when it fact it gradually IS getting better - it just takes a few weeks. This sleep diary serves to give you confidence in your ability to get a good night's rest.

We have seen amazing results with autogenic training, and it doesn't just support sleep - it also helps with many painful and chronic conditions.

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