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Life coach: the small hours

We've all experienced nights when we can't get to sleep, or wake up with worries about workload, a difficult student or some other aspect of work. Naturally, sleep deprivation makes any problem worse. Here are three tips:

* Distract your mind. This is the "counting sheep" strategy, but a more effective exercise is to make up sentences in which each word has to start with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. Example: "All bold cats destroy elegant furnishings." You can skip the "k", "x" and "z".

* Write down a key question that is troubling you and release it to your unconscious mind. Use your first thought on waking to ask yourself whether you have a solution. Einstein used this technique.

* Let your mind drift ahead five years. Will you still be thinking about whatever is keeping you awake? Or will it have minor significance? With the energy that comes from a restful sleep, you'll be ready to tackle anything.

Jurgen Wolff is a hypnotherapist, teacher and writer. His free monthly creativity email bulletin is available from

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