PAUL McKENNA: How to establish a solid pattern of deep sleep

Train your mind to sleep deeply: PAUL McKENNA reveals his top tips for a more restful night

  • Paul McKenna says physical and psychological environment need to be right
  • He advised re-vamping your pillows, bedcovers and mattress for a comfier sleep
  • Here, he also shares the key elements on how to stop night-time awakening 

Just as it is helpful to get your physical environment right to help you sleep — a dark and quiet room at a comfortable temperature — your mind’s psychological environment needs to be right too. 

Everything you perceive causes your body to react. 

Think about when you were last engrossed in a film; how, during a realistic scene depicting a dangerous situation, your body tensed up. 

When we sense danger, adrenalin is released into the bloodstream, blood is pumped to the major muscles, the heartbeat quickens, the digestive system and immune systems are suppressed, and our muscles tense.

Paul McKenna (pictured) has revealed his top tips for establishing a solid pattern of deep sleep and says both your physical and psychological environment need to be right

It’s why you find yourself gasping or gripping your seat when watching an action movie or horror film. 

Of course, films like that are entertaining, but the release of all those stress hormones can be too much stimulation in the hour before bedtime. 

Sleep-promoting foods contain amino acid tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin that makes you feel good, and melatonin that makes you sleepy. 

Tryptophan is found in dairy, fish, red meat, poultry, eggs, and fruit such as mango and banana.

If you want to establish a really solid pattern of deep sleep, you need to make sure you don’t wind yourself up when it’s time to wind down. It is not just action movies that keep you alert. 

All television programmes are designed to catch your attention and to keep it, by making you excited. 

People having a nice, happy time do not make for gripping dramas; news bulletins are full of crashes, floods, explosions, financial problems and lucky escapes. 

If you want to establish a really solid pattern of deep sleep, you need to make sure you don’t wind yourself up when it’s time to wind down by watching TV (stock image)

Some people have no trouble at all watching disaster reports, thrillers, dramas and horror movies before sleeping very well. 

But if you are having difficulty getting off to sleep, don’t let the TV become just something else that keeps you awake. 


Some people get to sleep easily but wake up during the night, their minds racing, and find it difficult to get back to sleep. 

This can be caused by your unconscious mind processing a worry or perhaps an idea or dilemma and then wanting to share its conclusions with your conscious mind. Until you’ve worked this through, you will struggle to go back to sleep. 

The following exercise gives your unconscious mind an opportunity to communicate with you through symbolism. As you become aware of the symbols, tension is released. 

You don’t need to understand them, just let them be processed by both parts of your mind — you can use this exercise when you first get into bed, but it is particularly useful when you have awoken in the middle of the night. Read this exercise through carefully before doing it. 

1. Imagine you are sitting in the middle of an auditorium. In front of you the curtains of the theatre are closed. 

2. Invite your unconscious to use the stage to show you whatever it wants. 

3. Watch the curtains of the theatre draw back and see what appears. Sometimes an image or some action will arrive straight away, sometimes the stage will be completely dark at the beginning. 

4. If it starts off completely dark, just keep watching and let the imagery develop as slowly as it wishes. Let your unconscious mind release any tension by communicating with you by sending a symbol. It may be a chicken, a missile, an orange. It doesn’t matter. Just acknowledge the symbol and let the lights fade. 

5. Keep watching. Let another image arise. There is no need to understand or interpret what you see. Equally, if you do get some meaning from it, that is fine too. Just let your unconscious show you as much as it wishes. 

6. If you feel that your mind is especially active you can now combine this with image-streaming — that means describing what you are seeing with your internal voice in a gentle monotone. Or you can simply carry on watching, a silent observer, as you drift into sleep.

Try switching it off at least one hour before you go to bed. This will give your mind a chance to process all of the adrenalin released after any exciting imagery that you’ve been exposed to. 

It sounds so easy, but you’ll be amazed by how effective this change to your routine can be. 

For some people the only action required to restore a good sleep cycle is also ridiculously simple: make sure your bed is comfortable. 

If you are at home now, go and take a look at your pillows, bedcovers and mattress. 

Now ask yourself: if you checked into a luxury hotel for a weekend, would you be happy to sleeping in the bed that you see now? 

Most people can only afford a night in a luxury hotel on very special occasions — but you sleep in your own bed almost every night. 

It is much better value to spend the money on this bed than blow it on one extravagant night, even if you do have to save up for a while. 

Just buying a mattress-topper can transform a mattress that has seen better days. There’s an old saying that still holds true. ‘Never skimp on your bed or shoes, because if you are not in one, you are in the other.’ 


This is a great exercise that will help you feel drowsy after climbing into bed. Read through the details carefully before you do it — and don’t try unless you are ready to go to sleep. 

1. Remember a time when you felt very tired, and remember how your body felt. 

2. Now, keeping that feeling, imagine you are surrounded by some friends who are just as tired as you. 

3. When you look around, notice that one of them yawns. Then watch as another one yawns. 

4. As more people begin to do so, notice how you feel, and notice that some people are also having difficulty keeping their eyes open. 

5. Then join in with the yawning. 

6. Notice whether your eyes want to close, and even if your eyes are already closed, imagine them closing again, imagine them flickering then closing again, over and over again. 

7. Yawn once more and notice where you feel the yawn — in your throat or jaw — and let your mind drift, and every time you find yourself drifting back again, just look around at the circle of tired, yawning people in your mind’s eye. 

8. As you yawn more, notice a warm, comfortable feeling spreading all around you, and let yourself drift again.  

For information on Paul’s books, including Control Stress, I Can Make You Happy, Instant Confidence and I Can Make You Sleep, visit: 

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