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Review: Better Sleep Sooner

A review of a book that can help you to improve the quality of your sleep.

Better Sleep Sooner
by Aaron McLoughlin
Published by Rapid Inspired Change. Available from the publisher’s website.

As the title suggests, the purpose of this book is to help people to get a better quality of sleep in their lives. The author, Aaron McLoughlin, is from New Zealand and has worked in the field of hypnosis and NLP since 1996, experience that is clearly evident in this well-crafted book. The book offers a series of strategies over 8 chapters, and although it is quite a short read at 168 pages, McLoughlin has managed to squeeze in an awful lot of good ideas in a very clear way that will certainly help to achieve his aim of helping people to get better sleep sooner.
90% of adults experience insomnia at some point in their lives, but some get it chronically and it goes beyond being a nuisance to become a major disruption to a happy productive life. McLoughlin was a long-time member of that 90% and he draws strongly on his own personal experience in overcoming sleeplessness which he describes as follows:

The nights seemed never-ending. Lying in bed for what seemed like the entire night, fretting and worrying about sleep. Anxiety was the nightly ritual. Lying awake imagining the next day and how exhausted I would be having had no sleep. Imagining all the sleep I had missed. Horrendous anxiety feeding upon itself and generating more and more sleeplessness and intermittent feelings of depression.

If you see yourself in that description, then perhaps you need to read no further and can just go ahead and order the book, but for the sake of interest of the 10% of folks who always sleep perfectly I’ll give some more details of the book below!
Much of the book is written in rich hypnotic language and as you turn the pages, you may occasionally find yourself drifting off into a mild trance or even into that sleep that may have been eluding you until now. While this hypnotic language is present throughout, it is most obvious in the stoems which appear at the end of the chapter – texts which read like poetry and act as a way of learning the concepts of the chapter through hypnosis at an even deeper level. Here is a part of one of the stoems at the end of Chapter 2.

As I am reading
these comfortable words
that’s right…
I can continue to consider…
that the problem I have been having
is just a behaviour
which means of course
that as I continue to read effortlessly now
that’s right…
I can take a deep breath…

These stoems are an excellent way of presenting hypnotic inductions in written form. The formatting of these texts as poetry means that the reader naturally parses each line separately and gives it more time to sink in than would normally be given to prose. This style of presentation also accommodates the language of spoken hypnotic inductions including embedded suggestions, long or unfinished sentences connected by simple conjunctions, implied causatives, generalizations which must be completed appropriately by the reader, occasional non-grammatical clauses, and even clauses that appear illogical to the conscious mind yet act effectively on the unconscious mind. Stoems are by far the best way that I have seen of presenting hypnotic language on the written page, and the author has done an excellent job of using this form to reteach the material of each chapter to the unconscious mind.
After an introduction to the book in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 provides a classic NLP reframe, changing ‘insomnia’ from a nominalization back into a process – something that we do. The reader is shown that sleeplessness is not something that is being done to them, but rather something that they are doing themselves. Similarly, a reframe is used to separate identity from behaviour; the person is not an ‘insomniac’, rather they are doing something that is not helping them to sleep at an optimal level.
Chapter 3 continues in the mode of reframing and McLouglin also introduces what he calls the Fascination Principle: all symptoms can be seen as messages from the unconscious mind that we can interact with – if we maintain an open attitude of curiosity and are willing to respond appropriately to the message. It reminds me of one of my own favourite metaphors: a symptom is like a telephone call from the unconscious mind – you can let it keep ringing and annoying you, or you can listen to the message on the telephone and respond appropriately.
Chapter 4  explores emotions related to sleeplessness and notes that

Changing your mental state or perception with respect to your emotions is an important first step in resolving any emotion that may be fueling the sleeping problem.

It offers several useful techniques for gaining control of emotions including the Fascination Principle, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Self-Hypnosis, and Rewind the Day – all of which I tried out using the instructions specified in the book and found to be highly effective. In particular, if (like me) you are not yet familiar with EFT, McLouglin’s concise but complete instructions provide a  excellent primer.
Chapter 5 is the longest chapter in the book and contains eight useful reframes including my favourite one – “sleep is not the problem, rest is the key.” This chapter also makes nice subtle use of future pacing by having the reader imagine the time 15 minutes after they wake up, feeling fully rested. This refocusing from the problem to the solution is a perfect example of the NLP outcome frame. Like so many other problems that people face, when they can move beyond the problem to visualizing the possible solution, the unconscious mind starts marshalling the resources to make that future image come into reality.
Chapter 6 brings us to the core of the book and offers some more valuable strategies as well as a long well-constructed stoem. Chapter 7 brings us back from trance and chunks right down into the concrete details of the environment and behaviours that will support good sleep patterns. Chapter 8 completes the main body of the book with several long stoems that are again well-constructed. The appendices offer some very practical instructions on carrying out EFT, self-hypnosis, and power-napping. Any of these could have been easily expanded into whole chapters, but the author has wisely chosen instead to keep the book brief and to get to the points quickly – after all that leaves more time for the reader to just relax and sleep, doesn’t it?
Better Sleep Sooner is highly recommended for people who want to improve the quality of their sleep – and who doesn’t? Even for people who already sleep very well, that lucky 10%, they are likely to find this book useful in sleeping deeper and relaxing more in their waking lives. If one thing could be added to the book, I would suggest that the stoems could be recorded and included as a CD, or even as an mp3 download from the website. However, I am certainly willing to wait for that as I head off to drift into a deep deep sleep.
©2011 by Dr. Brian Cullen

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