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Science Behind: Is EFT & Visualisation key to sleep?

EFT

According to Google Trend Data, the search term energy-based sleep methods has received an uplift of 9.900% in the past year. Adopting rituals to practice alongside moon cycles, an understanding of Mercury Retrogrades impact and the idea that ‘thoughts become things’ is somewhat the norm in the UK. As a result, it’s no surprise that much of the UK is turning to energy-based practices to improve their sleep hygiene.

Here, head sleep expert Martin Seeley at Mattress Next Day presents the science behind EFT, and visualisation, revealing whether they are key to a good night’s sleep.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Google search data reveals that Emotional Freedom Technique has received a 911.1% uplift in the past month. EFT works 2-fold. The practice is based on ancient medicines that believe stimulating the body’s meridian points in the same way as acupressure provides physical and emotional healing. EFT also uses exposure therapy used in psychology, seeing participants say specific phrases aloud to generate an energy shift, changing a person’s perspective on the subject they are tapping on.

The limbic system is a part of the brain that plays an instrumental role in our behaviour, particularly our fight or flight response. Poor sleep hygiene interrupts the connection between the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, igniting our ‘flight response’, and sparking feelings of anxiety, anger, and frustration. These feelings disrupt sleep, and a vicious cycle begins.

Research shows that tapping affects the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, whilst suppressing the stress hormone cortisol and increasing the feel-good hormone serotonin. Also working to calm the central nervous system, EFT helps diminish the negative emotions that keep you from sleep.

Studies have also found that EFT tapping influences the hippocampus, the part of the brain that plays a key role in our learning and memory, seeing that EFT not only eases negative emotions but encourages the participant to adopt a new outlook on negative memories. Research by Bach et el 2019 showed that EFT, decreased anxiety by 40% and blood pressure by 8% whilst increasing happiness by 31% and immune markers by 113%.

To practice EFT, create a phrase that specifies what you wish to resolve. Commonly, those who practice EFT opt for a phrase such as, ‘Even though I cannot sleep as easy as I would like, I choose to love and accept myself’. You must ensure that the phrase is specific to you and doesn’t account for anyone else’s feelings or involvement in your sleeping habits. 

Begin by tapping the ‘karate chop’ point at the side of your hand and repeat your phrase 3 times. Then tap on the outer eye, inner corner of the eye, top of the mouth, chin, collarbone, underarms and top of the head. Repeat the round 3x minimum.

Visualisation

The phrase Visualisation to Sleep has seen a 9.900% lift in Google searches this past month. Such an uplift reflects the UK’s desire to learn more about visualisation and how to use it as a tool to arm them against poor sleep hygiene.

Studies have found that a person’s thoughts produce the same mental commands as actions. When looking at weightlifters, it was found that the same patterns in the brain were ignited when the lifters physically lifted weights to when they imagined them.

Evidence suggests that when visualising, the brain cannot differentiate between thought and reality. When you visualise, your brain will regard it as a real memory. Actively producing mental imagery impacts cognitive processes such as motor control, perception, memory, and self-proficiency.

Visualisation can work as a valuable tool for those who cannot sleep. When using visualisation brainwaves move from Beta to Alpha to Theta. When the brain is in these states, visualisation can penetrate the subconscious to reprogram beliefs that are not beneficial to our overall well-being.

To use visualisation to sleep, play your perfect bedtime routine in your mind. Begin with getting ready for bed and play the perfect sleep scenario through to morning. When you have finished, notice how you feel. Continue the practice, incorporating breathing techniques and even meditation. Visualisation takes practice, and you will likely get distracted. If your mind wanders, it’s vital that you do not get frustrated. Instead, simply draw your mind back to the present and replay your chosen visualisation.

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