Revised February 2020
SINGLE HEMISPHERIC SLEEP
Persons in especially dangerous occupations have a history of being alert while sleeping. This includes those in the military in combat zones, law enforcement, and firefighters. When anyone is in a new or unfamiliar location, is worried and/or does not feel safe or secure, they cannot relax and may sleep in an alert mode with only one hemisphere of their brain asleep.
These situations are created when only one of the brain’s two hemispheres sleep at resting time.
One hemisphere may remain awake in a “sleep alert mode” as a self-defense mechanism. This is considered an instinctive trait, not necessarily a learned one. Stress from life and work impacting the body interrupts a person’s ability to relax and sleep.
The relaxation process you will learn through this lesson to eliminate your single hemispheric sleep deprivation habit is a positive step in taking care of your body.
Anyone who has a history of single hemispheric sleep may be sleep deprived.
Sleep deprivation may cause serious side effects.
SIDE EFFECTS OF SINGLE HEMISPHERIC SLEEP
Single hemispheric sleep is caused by living with danger, stress and worry, include the following. This list is important in that those not knowing what is causing them may now be aware and take action.
1. An increased risk to persons with type 2 diabetes as the body may not respond correctly to insulin.
2. Decisions can be slower, less accurate and/or impulsive
3. Inferior concentration may affect motor skills
4. Slower reaction times
5. Reduced memory
6. Cleansing/removal of toxic molecules within the brain is reduced (normally occurs during
7. Reaction to emotional stimuli increases resulting in uncontrolled feelings of depression.
8. Metabolism rate may decrease
9. Weight gain - the body tries to regain lost energy through food
10. Cardiovascular problems/disease – blood pressure and heart rate increases
13. Sadness, happiness, etc.
14. Hormones may become unbalanced; Estrogen levels increase
15. Body collagen production decreases
16. Skin, usually repaired/refreshed during sleep, is affected with breakouts and wrinkling
17. Defective immune system occurs with lowered body defenses
18. Unintentional sleep any time, including when dining or driving
METHOD TO RELAX THE MIND/BRAIN
The first time you go through the process, it should be read aloud by a family member or friend. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy a CD with this relaxation process from this website/page. In the meantime, have your reader using a calm and steady voice slowly read the instructions. Persons using this relaxation method claim to sleep more deeply than normal and are more refreshed upon awakening. It is hoped both brain hemispheres sleep.
WARNING: Do not attempt to smoke or drink during this relaxation process. If you are in a dangerous situation or outdoors where there could be predators, do NOT try this relaxation process. You must be in a safe location. Do not leave anything cooking on a stove or leave children unattended. When both hemispheres sleep, you may not be aware of noises, approaching people or animals. When you are rested, you will naturally awaken by yourself. Let the family know you may need to be touched on the hand or arm to be awakened. This methodology is a way to relax your body so that you may rest in a deep sleep with, hopefully, both brain hemispheres at rest. If you have not yet purchased the sleep CD, tell your reader to read everything slowly in order for you to have time to complete the suggested action.
Your clothing should be loose. You should be barefoot. The first time you accomplish this relaxation technique, it is best to do so on a hard surface. If you can easily lie down on the floor without harming yourself, please do so. In the future, lie on your bed when you go through the procedures. In training your body to relax, after the first time you may be able to go through the steps without being coached. Each time you will do so more easily. Eventually, you will be able to think the word, “relax,” and be in a totally relaxed state.
Lie on your back. Take a few moments to align your body comfortably. The spinal cord and column should be straight, the neck and head relaxed. The arms are loose at your sides, hands relaxed. Legs may be slightly open, let your bare feet fall to the sides with no effort. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes. Try to clear your mind of daytime worries. Now is the time to take care of you. You are ready to begin listening. Be prepared to sleep 8-13 hours and awaken refreshed. Bless you in this healthy endeavor.
TEXT TO BE SLOWLY READ ALOUD BY ANOTHER PERSON IN A CALM AND EVEN VOICE
VAGUS NERVE STIMULATION
First we will set your vagus nerve into action. This complex torso nerve connects many parts of the body from the brain to the colon. Its healing powers are easily activated and can improve body sleep and mood. By activating it, chronic pain can often be relieved as the body partially relaxes. There is no medicine or body manipulation. Discovered in the 1800s, the vagus nerve is easy to activate.
To stimulate the vagus nerve system, as I read aloud, take in a slow deep breath through your nose, hold it one second, let it out slowly through your mouth.
You will do this ten times. Each time try to include more air as you open your lungs. Let's start.
1. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air
2. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
3. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
4. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
5. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
6. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
7. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
8. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
9. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
10. Breathe in, hold, slowly release air.
MUSCLE RELAXATION FOR SLEEP
Now, you’re ready to begin muscle relaxation of your body. Mentally picture yourself on a cloud. Let all sensations of earth go. Don’t think about the floor again. Try to become so relaxed that you don’t feel the floor under you. Let yourself feel as light as air.
Without moving your body, put your concentration on your toes. Think to yourself you wish to relax the toes and the muscles which surround them. Let your feet fall with gravity. Don’t hold them up. With your mind, move to the muscles on the top of each foot. Let them relax. You have many complex bones and muscles in the foot and ankle areas. Try to relax the muscles supporting and surrounding the feet and ankles.
The lower leg has calf muscles which are easy to relax. From the ankles to the knees, relax any muscle in a state of tension. Then let all the calf muscles relax until the lower legs are at rest. Where the thighs connect to the knees is much connective tissue, especially supporting the knees. The muscles above and below the knees need to be relaxed, including the connective tissue surrounding the knees. Let the knee relax toward the floor. Feel it relax downward.
Now relax the thigh muscles above the knees at the front and back of the thighs. You’re not using them. Let them relax. There should be no pressure or tenseness near the hip. All leg muscles should now be relaxed.
You have muscles below your spine which support your buttocks. Several muscles cross the buttocks and work with your body in motion. Your buttocks are resting with weight against them. Think to relax all muscles in the buttocks area. Let go. Let them fall with gravity. Relax.
Now we’ll be moving up the back side of your body along the spine. All the muscles connecting to the vertebrae on both sides of the spine from the buttocks to the shoulders need to be relaxed. One by one, let your mind think of relaxing those muscles as your visualization moves up the spine. By the time you get to the shoulder region, most of the muscles of the back should be in a relaxation mode. If not, repeat the relaxation up the spine. Your back muscles stay tense all day as you stand and work. This is time to let them relax. There should be no pressure on the muscles of your back. Let your back relax with gravity. You are not working any muscles. No muscle in your body should be tense. As you reach your shoulders, let those large shoulder muscles remove tenseness and relax.
Concentrate on relaxing connective tissue and muscles. Some muscles go over the shoulder blades toward the back of your neck. Since your neck is not moving, there should be no tension of that muscle mass. Let it relax on either side of your spine, in the back of your neck and under your ears. Let your ears relax.
There are numerous muscles surrounding the shoulders and neck from the back to the front of the body. They hold your collar bones in place and help support the shoulders, giving strength. Let all musculature of the shoulder area relax around the body, front and back.
The muscles of your chest and abdomen must also relax. You’re not using them.
Visualize the large muscles in the upper chest on both sides of the sternum as they extend toward the neck. Let those muscle relax toward your rib cage. The shoulders may feel as though they move toward the floor with gravity as you are no longer supporting them. Again, relax the muscles over the front and top of the chest up toward the shoulders. Let the shoulders relax. You are not moving any muscles. You are not holding anything tense. You are just thinking of relaxing. Concentrating, think of relaxing all muscles at the front and back of your upper torso. Let there be no tension from the center of your chest and around your body to your spine. Your shoulders, back and buttocks are relaxed.
At this time, return your thoughts to your neck and the numerous muscles surrounding it which help hold the head when in a vertical position. At this time, let your head rest against the floor with no effort. Relax all neck muscles first at the front, then the back, and last the sides.
Feel your face muscles. Concentrate on your forehead. As you relax it, you’ll be able to feel the muscles fall with gravity to the sides. Think of the muscles surrounding the eyes relaxing. Below the eyes, your cheeks, lower jaw and chin have muscles to relax. Let your mouth open if it is more relaxed that way. Don’t tense any facial muscles. Relax your forehead again. Face muscles are so used to being tense, they quickly go back to a tense state. All the muscles on your face are to be let go again. Relax them.
Your brain is divided into two parts, the right and left. It may be that you need to make a concentrated effort to relax both sides of the brain. If you have been in combat, law enforcement, on alert to fight fires, teach difficult students, or other professions of great stress, you may have not slept with both sides of your brain for years. You have slept with only one half of your brain and experienced sleep deprivation. That has to stop. In this safe environment, you may rest both sides of your brain. Don't worry or be stressed until after this sleep session. Right now you are to relax your whole brain to help your body become more normal. Concentrate on letting both sides of your brain relax to allow transport of toxins out of your brain and to allow sleep. You are safe. You no longer need to be alert. You can relax your brain and mind. Think only of relaxation. Relaxing your total body and sleep.
We have relaxed most of the body, leaving the arms and hands for last.
Beginning with your fingers, let muscles within them relax. The thumb is more complex with larger muscles. Allow your thumbs to relax. Allow the muscles in the palms to relax. Next, concentrate on muscles, tendons and cartilage on the back of the hand. Let them relax. Don’t move your hands. Keep them fully relaxed.
Think upon your wrists. There are several bones in your wrists with much connective tissue to allow for complex motion. All muscle and tissue within the wrist must be relaxed. Think about where the fingers are connected and relax that tissue. Muscles around the wrist in any direction must be relaxed. It should be so relaxed that you don’t feel the wrist anymore.
Both your hands and wrists may feel like they are floating. Think of them being relaxed and pain free. Keep your body relaxed. Take deep breaths as needed.
We’ll next relax the forearm area between your wrists and elbows. There are complex muscles within them, those at the surface differing from interior muscles. The muscles are connected at the wrist or hand on one end, and the elbow or upper arm at the other end. Think to yourself that all those tendons from the hands have to be relaxed. The muscles around the lower arm have to be relaxed. Between the elbow, wrist and fingertips, all tissue should be in a relaxed position. Do not move your body. Relax muscles throughout your body. Let all tension flow from the muscles. Relax the muscles.
The biceps of the upper arms are made primarily of two muscles. Think of either end of the bicep muscles. Try to relax the connective tissue at the lower end and the bicep muscles themselves. With your arm relaxed and in a loose position, the bicep is stretched somewhat but not in tension. Let it relax so there is no tension or feeling of the muscle. It should be so relaxed that it will have little or no feeling. Concentrate on relaxing the upper part of the bicep where it connects around the shoulder. Think of them as relaxing and hanging loosely. Don’t move your arms. They are at rest. Visualize your arms floating just above the floor with no weight on them … no gravity pulling them down.
Your body should be at rest.
Concentrate on your physical brain. Your face and neck are relaxed. You need to think of all the matter within the skull which makes up the essence of what is you. The right side of your brain is already relaxed. You need to ensure the left side of your brain is also relaxed. You are in a safe place. There is no need for any part of your brain to be alert. Your body is safe. Think to yourself that you want all of your body relaxed, including the brain. Including the mind which uses the physical brain to think upon your existence and world which is, here and now in this place and at peace. There is no reason why any part of your brain needs to stay awake. The left part of your brain which has been awake, perhaps for years, now needs to rest. Let your thoughts be guided to that part of your body.
Think to yourself, "my brain must rest. My brain needs to sleep to repair itself. My brain needs to sleep to heal my body. .I cannot be healthy if my whole brain does not relax. All the thoughts of my mind are at peace. I want to remove any tension from my mind. I want to think only of relaxing my brain and mindful thoughts. Let ALL of me be at rest. Brain, mind, body and soul."
At this point, there should be no tension in your muscles. Whether you sleep or not, your body should be relaxed and your mind at peace. If you started within a safe environment, both sides of your brain and thinking should be about the peace in which you are placed. You should be relaxed.
If you fall asleep during this process, hopefully, you should have both hemispheres of your brain/mind at rest. With your body also at rest, you should sleep naturally in a deep sleep.
If you have been listening to a CD, let it run. Don't move. Don't get up. Don't worry about it.
The average adult will sleep from seven to thirteen hours on a good night.
If another person has been reading the instructions, after the second time through the instructions, they should quietly leave you to rest. Once you are at rest or asleep, you are free to move your body into any rest position which will allow total relaxation.
FUTURE RELAXATION MEDITATION
Each time you go through this guided relaxation, you should be able to do so faster. After a few times, you will no longer need the instructions to be read aloud as you will know what to do and how to do it. Improvise if necessary. The main goal is to get you out of the sleep alert mode to total rest when you are in a safe place. Do this especially when you are having difficulty getting to sleep. Eventually, you will be so accustomed to this relaxation process, you can just say to yourself, “relax,” and your body will do so.
If you have any questions, please send a comment using the form at the bottom of the page.
Best wishes from Irene Baron for precious sleep.
Please share this page with those military veterans who have been deployed into combat areas and others with critical occupations that put them at risk.
Reference: Koch, Christof. Neuroscience. “Sleeping with Half a Brain.” Scientific American MIND. 1 September 2016.