EXCERPT: 'I Can Make You Sleep'

Read an excerpt from Paul McKenna's new book.

ByABC News via via logo
September 10, 2009, 10:56 AM

Sept. 18, 2009— -- Paul McKenna, best-selling author of "I Can Make You Thin," has out a new book and CD set on the secrets of getting regular, deep sleep. "I Can Make You Sleep" uses methods that McKenna has developed over 20 years.

In McKenna's technique, the book and CD are designed to work together to reset your body's natural sleep mechanism. He says that his approach will increase the amount and quality of your sleep.

Read an excerpt of the book below, and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.


The system in this book and CD will make a huge improvement to your life. If you've suffered from insomnia or from disruption to your sleep then I have written this book for you! This system will do more than help you sleep longer, it will also significantly improve the quality of your sleep. Human beings spend approximately 30 percent of their life asleep so almost a third of your entire existence is about to become significantly better.

Every human being has a natural inbuilt ability to sleep deeply and for long periods of time. We are going to re-establish your sleep cycle so that you truly enjoy that natural ability.

Recent research has shown that we do not all need eight hours of sleep every night; some people only need five or six hours. However much you sleep, what matters is that you are truly rested and refreshed. As you use this book, together we will improve the quantity and the quality of your sleep. Whether your sleep gets longer or deeper or both, it will become more refreshing and satisfying so overall a third of your life is about to get better!

I know the frustration of not getting a good night's sleep and I know that I can help you. There are different ways that people experience sleeping problems or insomnia—some find it difficult to get to sleep, other people wake up frequently during the night, others wake too early in the morning. Some people have a mixture of all those difficulties and some people never enjoy feeling truly rested, however much they sleep.

For you this is all going to change, right now. Whatever your problem was with sleeping, from now on, your sleep will start to improve. One of the best things about this system is that you don't have to "believe" in it, you don't have to have willpower. You simply have to follow my instructions.


The system you are about to use has taken over twenty years to develop. Everything that is in this book and on the CD is exactly what I would do with you if we were sitting together doing a personal session. In fact, during the reading of this book you may find yourself feeling sleepy.

There are two reasons for this. First, simply by reading about how your sleep can get better and deeper we are focusing your mind on sleep and activating all your unconscious associations to successfully falling asleep. Many people find that reading this book makes them feel a bit sleepy or that their attitudes toward sleep begin to transform, because it has been written in a special hypnotic language. The formula of the writing makes the brain begin to process ideas to reconnect to your basic ability to sleep. As you make sense of what I am saying your mind creates a specific sequence of ideas which puts positive suggestions into your unconscious mind.

I've worked with many people over the years helping them to change habits and the research into my techniques shows that they work for most people most of the time. However, I am always interested in why my approach doesn't work for some people and interestingly it's always the same reason: They didn't follow the instructions.

This can be for any number of reasons. Maybe they were distracted, or they tried the techniques just once or twice and forgot to repeat them. The point is if they don't follow the instructions they are not using the system. It is important to explain straight away that the system in this book and CD works by installing the habits of success in your mind. One of the methods by which we do this is repetition, so if you want to improve the length and quality of your sleep you must follow all my instructions—including the repetitions. If you don't follow them you are not using the system.

Many people find that their sleep improves radically within a few days. Even though this may happen to you, keep using all the techniques. Establishing regular, refreshing sleep is the result of changing many small processes that all add up to work together. Keep following all the rules until they become second nature and use the exercises as often as you wish, and after a few weeks you will find out which is your favorite way to go to sleep.

Sleep is a simple experience created by a multitude of complex factors. For a few people it is just one of the changes I suggest, or just one of the exercises, that makes a huge difference. And of course, most of the time we can't tell exactly which were the changes that were critical for your sleep improvement. That is why it is necessary to follow the whole system. After all, it doesn't matter if you do not know which change it was you made that makes you sleep better. All that matters is that you sleep deeper and longer and better and feel more refreshed, more relaxed, and more alert during the day. Some people find it helpful to reread this book many times as well in order to reinforce the learning.

We are going to start this book by changing simple habits and improving your sleep environment. Then later in the book I will show you some powerful psychological techniques that you can use to go to sleep and stay asleep longer and deeper.


If you have been unable to sleep it is not your fault. It's the fault of your programming. Your mind is like a computer and when you learn to do something you store it as a program in your unconscious mind. That is what a habit is. So being unable to sleep at night is simply the product of some bad habits.

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?


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.


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.

Your Conscious MindThis is the mind that you actively and deliberately think with all day long. It is the internal voice that you think of as "me." But while the conscious mind certainly has its uses, it is extremely limited in what it can accomplish on its own. Studies have shown that it can only hold handful of ideas at any one time. That's why throughout your life your conscious mind is assisted by the power and capacity of your other, larger mind—the unconscious mind.

Your Unconscious MindYour unconscious mind is the larger mind, it is the part of you that ultimately controls every aspect of your behavior. It keeps your heart beating, your brain thinking, and your body healthy and energized. It stores and runs all the "programs" of automatic behavior that you use to live your life.

The unconscious mind is like having an "autopilot" function in the brain that allows us to do multiple things simultaneously without having to concentrate on all of them at once. For example, when you were a child you had to concentrate consciously in order to learn to tie your shoelaces properly, using your conscious mind. But now that your unconscious mind has learned the sequence of moves it can direct your hands and you do not need to pay attention to the process consciously anymore.

These programs ("habits") are useful because they free our conscious minds to think about other things. Learning to drive a car involves learning lots of little processes like scanning the road, signaling, accelerating, braking, turning, and so forth. As you practice each one, and turn the sequence of perceptions and moves into automatic programs, your unconscious mind takes over the specific actions involved in driving and you monitor the process without having to think about how you accelerate, turn, or signal and so on. You can just get in the car and decide where you want to go. If something unusual or dangerous happens you can react instantly because you don't have to think about how to brake or steer or accelerate. You can do it without thinking.

It is great learning to drive, but some of the habits we have learned are less useful. Because the unconscious mind simply learns things that are repeated, whether or not we really want to learn them, it is possible to learn and install a bad habit completely by accident. In fact, insomnia is just that: a habit.No one gets it deliberately. It doesn't mean you are crazy, bad, or broken. People only learn the habit of insomnia by accident. Unfortunately many people do not realize it is a habit that can be changed, and they don't know that actually it is quite straightforward, and that's what we are going to discover as you use this system over the next few weeks.


There are some functions of the unconscious mind that are preprogrammed, such as breathing. We don't need to learn how to do it, as soon as we are born we start to breathe. Nevertheless we can choose to speed up our breathing or slow it down. We can't stop it entirely though. If you try to hold your breath forever you will fail because the basic instincts in the unconscious will take over and literally force you to breathe. Some of the other basic functions cannot be directly controlled at all. For example, while you can choose to speed up your breathing, you cannot simply choose to speed up your heartbeat. However, we can influence our heartbeat through the power of imagination. If we imagine walking down a dark alley late at night and hearing footsteps behind us, our hearts will almost certainly speed up. In the same way if you vividly imagine a scene that you find calm and relaxing, such as lying on a warm beach hearing the distant rhythmic crash and hiss of the waves, or dozing on a comfortable sofa in front of a log fire and watching the flames flicker, or walking through a quiet and beautiful forest with the light dappled through the trees, your heartbeat will become calm and steady and your body chemistry will release endorphins and other hormones that make you feel calm and relaxed.

In other words, changing how you think and what you think can cause the state of your body to change. Some of the powerful techniques in this book involve the use of imagination techniques to reprogram the unconscious mind. With carefully selected imagery and networks of association we can stimulate changes in the neurological and hormonal patterns that facilitate sleep.

To benefit from the system all you have to do is follow the instructions. Read the book—at least twice, preferably three times—and do each of the exercises. Make sure you do them all—even the ones that seem at first as if you may not like them as much as others. Some people benefit most from the exercises they find a little difficult at first. That is not so surprising really—the better you are at something, the less you need to practice it—and conversely if you find something very difficult, it indicates that there is a lot there for you to learn to make it become more easy.


This book comes with a hypnosis CD that will help you go to sleep and with repeated use it will help you restore your natural, healthy sleep patterns.

The CD is specially recorded so that the hypnotic suggestions are taken up by the unconscious mind and the structure and timing of the CD are carefully calibrated to enhance your sleep cycle. But I have discovered that, on top of that, just using hypnosis leads to improved sleep. When I teach hypnosis seminars my students go in and out of trance several times a day for a week. I noticed that many of them report at the end of the week that they are sleeping better and deeper than they have for years.

I've been helping people to sleep better for many years and some of them have found that just using the trance on this CD has been all they need to improve their sleep patterns permanently.

I want to be 100 percent certain that your sleep will improve so I want you to use the CD and I want you to follow every instruction and use every exercise in this book. That means that whatever your problem was, you will improve your sleep. Also you will be able to sleep well even if there are nights when you can't listen to the CD.I believe one of the reasons that people have such a high success rate with my change work is simply that we cover every angle. I've looked at all the reasons people have sleep problems, and when you use the whole of this system there is something that helps everyone.

The ideal time to listen to the CD is in bed as you go to sleep.

As you use it regularly, you will reinforce all the changes you are making and boost your natural sleep cycle. When you listen to the CD you don't have to make any effort at all. You don't have to believe in anything, you just need to hear the words and sounds on the CD and let your mind take what it needs. You can listen but you don't need to try to remember anything or even try to understand it. All that is necessary is simply to hear it so that the unconscious mind extracts from it all it needs to help you sleep better and better.

Hypnotic trance is not the same as sleep. You will hear all the words on the CD and your awareness may change but you will be able to wake up if necessary. However you will also find it much, much easier to slip into sleep from trance. You can also use the CD if you wake up during the night.

Whether you drift off very rapidly into sleep or whether you listen to the CD all the way through doesn't matter. There is a wide variety of natural states of relaxation you can experience as well as sleep, and while you do that I will reprogram your unconscious mind to sleep regularly and deeply just like reinstalling a program on a computer. Your mind is like a computer in many ways. It has its own software that helps you to organize your thinking and behavior. Having worked with all sorts of people with different problems over many years, I have learned that almost all problems stem from the same cause programs have been installed in the unconscious mind that have undesirable outcomes. Sometimes the program was installed accidentally like a computer virus, other times people are still running programs to solve problems that no longer exist. Either way, the solution is the same. Remove the old program and reinstall a new, clean, better version.


As you use this system over the next few weeks your sleep cycle will be greatly improved. After that, depending on many factors, not least your starting point, there may be room for some more improvement or it may be that you simply need to spend more time following all the rules carefully so that you embed all the new learning in the unconscious mind to keep the unconscious mind delivering better sleep.

After two months you will find that your sleep cycle has become fairly robust. That means that even if for some reason you have to stay up later or your sleep is interrupted your sleep cycle should re-establish itself easily within a couple of nights. If for any reason at all your sleep becomes disrupted again, go back to following all the instructions, using all the exercises and listening to the CD for at least a week. This will ensure that the momentum of improvement is restored.

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.

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.

The following medical conditions have been associated with poor sleep. Even when your sleep improves radically you should still consult your doctor as you would normally for appropriate help with any of these conditions: depression, restless leg syndrome, chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, asthma, allergies, and attention deficit disorder.


You should always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about your medication or if you wish to change or reduce your use of prescription drugs. Many doctors believe that in an ideal world medication to help people sleep should not be used for more than two weeks at a time, but for different reasons there are a lot of people who use such medication routinely. Unfortunately, this can cause habituation to the drugs, and people can become reliant on medication. Worse still, the effectiveness of the drugs reduces with continuous use.

I have used sleep medication for jet lag and found it effective. But I know that after a few nights of use it begins to be less effective. That is why I am so much in favor of the system in this book.

If you wish to stop using medication for sleep you should do so only under medical supervision. Use this book and CD as well and they will help you to set up a robust, natural pattern of regular, refreshing sleep.

Reprinted with permission from I Can Make You Sleep, copyright 2009 by Paul McKenna, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

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