Rest is 'as good as having a nap’

When elite mind coach and sleep expert Natalie Pennicotte-Collier told me that we can get similar benefits from resting as we can from a 'micro-sleep', it made me instantly relax.

I’ve laid awake a gazillion times with a busy mind in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep - mainly in my teens and early twenties when it felt like every tiny aspect of my daily life mattered so much more to me than it does today.

It got me exploring different ways to improve my sleep. I now take daily magnesium, use red light therapy in the evenings and always have my phone on night shift mode - even during the day.

Thankfully, my sleep hasn’t been too bad in recent years, but there’s still the odd night when I’m awake until 3am for no apparent reason.

So interviewing Natalie on #HealthHackers meant I could put all kinds of questions to her from anxious or sleep-deprived viewers.

‘There isn’t a single biological function that isn’t enhanced in every way when we sleep,’ Natalie told me.

But don’t panic - there are methods you can use that will help you.

Natalie says one of the tools you can use if you wake up in the night and can’t go back to sleep is to accept you are awake and get a sense of humour about it.

Take your awareness down to your toes. It’s the fastest biohack to get attention away from your busy mind and do some deep breathing as you gradually invite your mind to go back to sleep.

This all helps to calm the parasympathetic nervous system. 

“Breath is your remote control” says Natalie.

Don’t think about how it will affect your performance negatively tomorrow because that’s going to subtly hypnotise you into performing poorly.

That’s the power of visualisation.

But it means it can work the other way - with great results.

Natalie works with elite athletes and teaches them to practise visualising themselves winning, succeeding, beating their opponents easily.

It’s basically a type of hypnotherapy that we can all do whenever we like.

In fact, Natalie tells her athletes to do visualisation whenever they have down time.

You can use it if you have something nerve-racking coming up like a public speaking event, or a major meeting at work where you know you’ll have to speak up.

That reminds me, Natalie says she doesn’t use words like nervous. Instead - she calls it being dialled in.

It’s all about reframing how you view scary things and your body will eventually join in and be excited rather than scared.

You can read more about Natalie and how she’s helping as many people as possible to sleep better and feel calmer here.

She’s also offered to give anyone who listens to this #healthHackers episode a free audio hypnotherapy recording to help you fall asleep. Email her via her website if you're interested.

Let me know what happens!

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Watch #HealthHackers Ep 3 with Natalie Pennicotte-Collier:

Gemma Evans