Hypnotherapy for insomnia and sleep disorders: does it work?
Have you tried the “you’re getting sleepy, oh so sleepy” practice of hypnotherapy for insomnia? If you have a sleep disorder, then you’ll know the frustration of trying to fall asleep (and stay asleep) each night.
Hypnotherapy is coming out on top as a “get to sleep fast” sleep practice, and while it may not resemble hypnosis as we know it, there are some hypnotherapy methods that may trick us into sleep.
What is hypnotherapy?
In the traditional sense, hypnotherapy is a type of alternative medicine in which hypnosis is used to draw you into a state of focused attention. This is said to increase your ability to absorb suggestibility where the hypnotist can enforce positive suggestions (like forgetting habits) by either using guided imagery or words to help you deal with various concerns and issues.
Hypnotherapy for insomnia
When it comes to sleep, some of us have noisier minds than others. This can make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you have insomnia, you’ll often find that your noisy mind is the leading culprit stealing your z’s. This is where sleep hypnosis or hypnotherapy could help.
Sleep hypnosis involves listening to verbal cues from a hypnotherapist, whether from an app or in a therapy session. Its core aim is intended to draw you into a trance-like state through the power of suggestion. Much like the art of guided meditation, hypnotherapists use different approaches to help you reach a state of relaxation, such as focusing your attention on a single thought, controlling your focus on a specific symptom or feeding your mind through a distraction of guided imagery.
It’s often referred to as a practice that feels like an out-of-body experience, which is essentially why it works. It gets you out of your own head and allows your body to take the reins by using your natural rhythm to get yourself to sleep. During a hypnosis exercise, you will hear phrases like “relax,” “deep,” “easy,” and “let go.” These words are used to encourage you to leave your worries behind and drift off to sleep.
Does sleep hypnosis work?
Our minds are stubborn. They’re powerful machines that control our emotions, beliefs and ability to rationalise. Which is why hypnotherapy may work better for some better than others.
This all comes down to how “suggestible” you are, meaning how easily you’re able to believe that being put under a sleep “spell” will be effective. But it’s also said that some of us don’t hold the ability to be hypnotised, no matter how much we want to. This could be caused but a subconscious fear of being controlled, or the inability to let go. As we said, our minds are more powerful than we know, so as a stand-alone treatment for sleep issues, you may want to start with simple guided sleep relaxation techniques before attempting hypnosis.
Those that have successfully been hypnotised have reported that its mind-shifting “powers” have helped with understanding their sleeping “blocks” and allowed them to seek more targeted help to their sleeping issues.
Hypnosis for other sleep disorders
Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy shouldn’t be left solely in the hands of mindful techniques. Most sleeping disorders have more underlying health issues and should be avoided to be left with self-treatment. It’s advisable to consult your doctor who will suggest the right type of treatment and if hypnosis could help. They may even be able to suggest which resources (such as books, apps, audio materials) can help you learn self-hypnosis.
Other treatments to aid sleep
If you’re on the path to self-soothe for better sleep, there are numerous natural ways to go about it. Another effective treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which helps you look at your current sleep routine and find ways to improve it through mind shifts around beliefs and fears surrounding sleep. This has said to work well in conjunction with hypnotherapy.
Other relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, guided meditation, improving your bedtime routine by including herbal remedies to help sleep and listening to sleep music can all help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and wake up less during the night.
If hypnosis for sleep is the next step on your sleep treatment journey, remember that sleep issues can stem from our lifestyle habits, gene pool, and current stress levels. Looking at each of these areas in your life can help you identify what treatment is needed to get better sleep.