As we will see in the next chapter, sleep is a function of a number of ongoing cycles, some of which run over many days. Therefore, we cannot change your long-term sleeping patterns in a single night. Although you can have very rapid improvement very swiftly, we have to work over a longer period in order to reset the ongoing rhythm of your sleep cycle.
Our brains and bodies are running thousands of different interlocking cycles to keep us alive and healthy. These processes replenish the energy in our muscles, they build and repair the cells in our bodies, and they organize our memory and understanding. The sleep function is involved in all of these. We have to help your mind and body to adjust the power and timing of these interlocking cycles so that the major pattern of sleep becomes more unified, more powerful, and more robust.
I will explain this in more detail and show you exactly how you can enhance that cycle in the next chapter. The point I need to make here is that the process has to be done over a sequence of nights. We can't just stop the processes in your body, adjust them and then start them up again—we have to adjust them all while they are in motion.
There are three main ways we do this: We eliminate sleep disruptors. We introduce sleep enhancers. We optimize your environment to maintain the improvements.
In the following chapters we will explore each of the areas that can affect your sleep and deal with them all one by one. In each area I will show you how to eliminate all the disrupting factors, how to insert sleep enhancers, and how to optimize the environment to foster and maintain improvement in the long term. Follow the whole system, do all the exercises, and your sleep will get a whole lot better.
It doesn't matter how many problems you have had with your sleep, if you follow every single step of this system, your sleep will improve. The improvement may be sudden or it may be gradual. But even if you experience the positive effects very rapidly it is important to keep following the rules and to try out all the exercises. We are in the business of improving your sleep for life, not just for a few nights, and therefore we need to deal with all the possible causes of disruption so that the natural cycle of sleep runs smoothly week after week.
Read the whole of the book as many times as you need to and do all the exercises.
To truly improve your sleep it is better to make a little extra effort than to miss correcting the one thing that will allow you to create a great pattern of long, deep, restful sleep you can rely on for the rest of your life.
A number of medical conditions can interfere with sleeping patterns.
If you have any symptoms that lead you to think you might have a medical condition, you should consult your doctor. However, that does not mean you cannot improve your sleep.
In many cases, sleeping better can be a major help in the healing process. For example, poor sleep can be a symptom of depression. Sleeping better is one of the two most effective remedies for depression; the other is exercise.
In other cases, such as arthritis, people are kept awake by chronic pain. Again, this system will help you sleep better even if you suffer from chronic pain, but you should not change your treatment regime for any medical condition without consulting your doctor.