When a baby is born it alternates between sleeping and waking on a very short cycle of a few hours. One of the first things it does is build up longer periods of sleep and longer periods of wakefulness. Babies do this quite naturally by means of a built-in mechanism that reacts to the light during the day and the darkness at night. Babies still need to sleep a fair amount during the day because they are growing and learning so fast, but as we get older we sleep more and more at night and less and less during the day.
Learning to regulate our sleep is one of the first things we do, so we can do it again simply by letting that natural tendency take over. That's what we are going to do over the next few weeks. Very soon you will have developed the habit of sleeping well.
As you start using the techniques in this book it's important to remember to focus your mind on what is working. I had a client once who was suffering from insomnia. Some weeks after our first session I asked him, "How is it going?" He replied, "I am afraid I'm not cured." So I asked him, "But how much better is your sleep?" and he said, "Oh, about 80 percent." Some people tend to search for what isn't working, rather than what is. Often because they are natural problem solvers, they have to search for what's wrong. This is a useful skill and I have a technique later to make sure that skill can be preserved and you can also get to sleep. As you use these exercises it is important to notice how things improve so that your mind is focused on your successes.
You might find your natural sleep pattern does not have the timing you expect. Over the next few weeks I want you to focus on what is getting better even if it is happening in an unexpected way. How much longer are you sleeping? Or is it the quality of your sleep that is improving? As you follow my instructions, do you find yourself going to bed earlier or later than you expected?
WHAT MAKES THIS SYSTEM WORK?
As you read this book I will take you through each of the different areas of your life that affect your sleep and show you how to set them all up so that you sleep better and better.
If you forget one of the exercises or have a bad night, don't worry—nobody does it perfectly at first. Getting it wrong is part of the learning process, just start again and carry on. Because there are many different factors affecting your sleep, the improvement is very rarely a gradual, straightforward increase in length and depth of sleep. Some people find their sleep improves within a few nights, but for many there are periods of no change followed by sudden improvements then one or two less good nights, then patches of smooth improvements or more sudden gains. This happens because lots of different subsystems of your body and mind are changing at the same time.
From a practical point of view these details don't matter. Just keep following the system even if you have two solid weeks of great, deep sleep and then one slightly shorter night. Keep following the rules and the average time of sleep and the quality of your sleep will get better and better until you naturally sleep deeply and continuously each night.
HOW TO PROGRAM YOUR MIND
This system is unique because it is designed to use both your conscious and your unconscious mind to restore the fundamental sleep cycle. By using both parts of your mind you are doubling the efficiency of the system. Let me explain a little bit about the two parts of your mind.