The latest articles to help you maintain mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

Are you Getting Enough?

Are You Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep that is!

I received an e-mail recently with the title ‘The 20 best positions in bed.’ It included 20 pictures of kittens, cats and dogs sleeping and dosing in various cute positions.

It caught my attention because I already use a couple of the pictures in my ‘better sleep’ e-book and it reminded me of the real importance of sleep for our physical and emotional well-being, something which has been in the news again lately.

The unsolved mysteries of sleep

Sleep is a bit of a mystery to the neuroscientists.

They still haven’t unravelled the significance of the various sleep stages, REM and dreaming sleep in particular.

It is clear though, that deprived of sufficient good quality sleep, we suffer consequences in our cognitive function and emotional stability. Our understanding of the physical symptoms of sleep deprivation also continues to grow. Now links are being made between sleep and the effective functioning of our immune system.

Because sleep is so important, I have made the ‘better sleep’ e-book available on the Integrated Coaching Academy website as a free download.

The ‘better sleep’ audio download is also freely available on here.

Both use the ‘STOP System’ and ‘blackboard method’ for switching off distracting thoughts to help people drift into peaceful, good quality sleep more quickly.

Sleep is important

We all know it’s wonderful to get a great night sleep.

The trouble is, the stresses and strains of modern living are making it more difficult for us to either fall asleep or stay asleep.

Many people are working, or playing, on laptops into the early hours and then wondering why they can’t switch off and sleep immediately, little realising the backlit screens are actually stimulating their brains and preventing production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

It’s also true that, the more we worry in the daytime, the more restless and shallow our sleep is likely to be at night time and, we can find ourselves waking up many times in the night with our heads caught up in restless and repetitive thoughts and worries.

The traditional advice has been to get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy again. The truth is, that getting up is likely to wake you up even more.


The very best idea is to stay in bed and use the STOP System and blackboard technique to train your brain to switch off when you tell it to, and fall into peaceful, relaxed sleep when you choose. It’s true brain training.

I have been using this method with my clients for many years. It has changed the lives of many long-term insomniacs by interrupting the worries and niggles that tap us on the shoulder at night, keeping us awake when we would much rather be asleep.

The method begins by simply noticing that you are getting caught up in thinking and interrupts that by saying to yourself ‘STOP’. As soon as you say STOP, you have brought yourself to mindful awareness and now have a choice.

Now, in your imagination, draw a blackboard which is as tall as you are. You have a piece of chalk on one hand and an eraser in the other hand. The task is to chalk the number 100 on the blackboard as large as possible and then erase the number.

The task continues with the chalking of the numbers 99, decreasing and erasing each number as you go. It is an endless task. If you ever reached the number zero, your task would be to begin all over again with 100.

Your brain is a quick learner

What tends to happen is that, as the brain is a quick learner, you spend less and less time counting, before it gives in and surrenders to peaceful sleep.

It’s always good to know why these techniques work and good also to understand that the blackboard technique is embedded in solid science.

Thoughts and worries tend to catch our attention and keep it active but, because you can only really think once thought at a time, if you replace the worries with numbers and repetitive counting, the brain starts to become bored and soon loses interest.

Following the movement of the chalk on the overlarge black board, also mimics the rapid eye movement (REM) phase we experience as we begin to drift off naturally and enter dream sleep.

Because sleep is a conditioned response, we can simply get into the habit of going to bed and expecting poor sleep. But when you retrain your brain with the STOP System and the blackboard technique, you take back control.

Good sleep is our birthright. We were born into this world with the ability to sleep naturally and peacefully and ‘our little lives are rounded with a sleep’, according to the words of William Shakespeare.

And sleep is free. Like air and sunshine, no one has yet found a way to charge us for it.

So, I ask again, are you getting enough? Reclaim your birthright, train your brain to switch off when you choose, and enjoy all the amazing benefits for your physical and emotional wellbeing…..for free.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.