Overview: Hypnosis can be a powerful tool for sleep disorders. In fact, hypnosis for insomnia has been shown to lead to deeper sleep, help people fall asleep faster, and reduce nighttime wakefulness.
You lay awake and your mind races. You think about tomorrow’s seemingly impossible to-do list. Your body wants to sleep, but your mind has other plans.
Chances are, you’ve experienced sleep disturbances before.
According to CDC data, 50-70 million Americans suffer from a sleep or wakefulness disorder, and that could explain why we average just 6.8 hours of sleep per night. In other words, we’re chronically sleep deprived, and this lack of sleep limits the body’s ability to repair and restore itself.
Sleep hypnosis for insomnia may offer a solution.
Hypnosis allows us to access the unconscious thoughts that make it difficult to get to sleep. For example, if we feel anxiousness about sleeping, this fear likely lives in the subconscious.
Through guided hypnosis, we can begin to access and transform these fears, attachments, and triggers that cause sleep disturbances, and the research paints a compelling picture about it's effectiveness.
What is Sleep Hypnosis?
In simple terms, hypnosis for insomnia or sleep is a technique for inducing deep sleep, and it is similar to traditional hypnosis.
At bedtime, you follow steps to achieve physical and mental relaxation, and once you reach this relaxed and focused state, you’re provided with suggestions that can help the mind drift into deep sleep.
You might try hypnosis for insomnia if:
- You have trouble falling asleep;
- Your mind races at bedtime, preventing you from shutting down;
- You struggle to sleep prior to an important event;
- Or you suffer from a specific sleep disorder like restless leg syndrome, night terrors or sleepwalking.
If you want to try it, follow this short guided hypnosis for insomnia session:
How Does Hypnosis for Insomnia Help You Fall Asleep?
Numerous causes could be fueling your struggle to sleep.
For example, anxiety and stress – which hypnosis can help to improve — impair your ability to “shut off” the mind before bed. However, many other factors exist like allergies, asthma, or even a change in routine.
However, we're often kept awake by our internal dialogues.
We tell ourselves we won't fall asleep. We dread tomorrow morning. These thoughts race and race, and they get stronger and stronger throughout the night.
Sleep hypnosis for insomnia provides a framework to help our minds turn off, allow our bodies to reach a relaxed state, and ultimately, to push us from hypnotic trance to sleep.
In particular, a sleep-promoting hypnotherapy program helps you:
- Relax Physically: Hypnosis, in general, provides steps for relieving tension in the body, relaxing muscles and achieving that feeling of heaviness in the body. Under hypnosis, the body is wholly relaxed through breathing and focus techniques.
- Relax Mentally: The hypnotic state, much like meditation, is a state of heightened awareness and focus. By following hypnosis techniques, you can begin to unburden the mind of its worry. You move away from your conscious thoughts, and find a disconnection from your surroundings. Sleep hypnosis helps you slow your internal thoughts, tune them out or place your focus elsewhere.
- Induce Sleep: A hypnotic trance is not sleep, contrary to popular thought. You remain aware and conscious. But the transition from a state of hypnosis to sleep is natural. They share similarities, and therefore, once you’ve relaxed mentally and physically, simple suggestions may help you drift into sleep.
- Fall into Deep Sleep: Research has shown that listening to a sleep hypnosis recording prior to bed can help us get to deep sleep faster. In fact, a 2014 study found that women who listened to a sleep hypnosis recording before bed spent 80 percent longer in deep sleep. In other words, hypnosis helps us fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, ensure we spend enough time in the desired N3 and REM sleep stages.
The Power of a Good Night’s Rest
Sleep is nature’s medicine. In fact, researchers have linked sleep deprivation with a variety of serious health consequences. Getting enough sleep has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, for instance.
But poor sleep also affects our quality of life. It can contribute to:
- Bad sleep can reduce sex drive.
- It can speed up the aging process.
- Bad sleep affects mood and is an underlying cause of depression.
- It disrupts our memory, and makes recalling and storing memories more difficult.
- It impairs our reasoning, attention and problem-solving skills during the day.
But you can’t just get more sleep to reverse some of the symptoms. Instead, deep sleep is what matters.
During the night, you pass through four stages of sleep. In the NREM cycle, you experience light sleep (N1) and the onset of sleep (N2), before entering into a deep, restorative sleep pattern (N3). Finally, you reach the all-important REM sleep, which supports mind and body function, where the brain waves slow down and body heals itself.
Unfortunately, in our 30s and 40s, our ability to reach deep sleep starts to diminish and we’re more likely to experience non-refreshing sleep.
Symptoms of Insomnia and Sleep Disorders
When you aren’t getting enough slow-wave sleep, you might exhibit a number of telltale symptoms. If you experience these symptoms consistently, starting a sleep hypnosis program may offer a solution. Common symptoms include:
- Daytime irritability or sleepiness
- Trouble staying awake
- Difficulty with concentration, memory recall and attention
- Trouble controlling emotions
- Feeling very tired by mid-afternoon
- Slow reaction times
Hypnotherapy for Insomnia: Does It Work for All Cases?
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, and for chronic sufferers, the condition can have a serious impact on quality of life.
There are many types of insomnia, including long-term and short-term insomnia.
Long-Term Insomnia. Long-term insomniacs tend to feel anxiety about falling asleep; they condition the mind to think that falling asleep will be a struggle. Through hypnosis, these people can begin to reframe these unconscious thoughts, and generate more positive associations. For example, during a sleep hypnosis session, a recording or hypnotherapist might use positive words like “peace,” “rest” or “tranquility” to describe bedtime and sleep. This helps the unconscious mind untangle its negative associations.
Acute Insomnia. For acute sufferers, sleep hypnosis offers a step-by-step process for tuning out conscious thoughts, reaching a state of physical and mental relaxation, and preparing the mind and body for bed. Acute insomnia typically stems from stress or anxiety. You’re thinking about the day, or you’re stressed about upcoming events. By using hypnosis, you provide your mind with a framework for shutting down more effectively.
Additionally, insomnia can be “sleep onset” or “sleep maintenance” insomnia. Sleep onset refers to having trouble falling asleep, while sleep maintenance refers to difficulty in staying asleep.
Hypnotherapy offers a means for alleviating the root cause of all types of insomnia, as well as other sleep disorders.
Hypnosis for Sleep Disorders
In addition to insomnia, hypnosis for deep sleep can also help to alleviate a range of other sleep disorders and conditions. Research has shown hypnosis to be effective for overcoming jet lag, night terrors, and sleepwalking.
Travel disrupts your sleep schedule and can throw your internal clock out of whack. Sleep hypnosis provides a means for resetting the internal clock. For example, on your return home, you might follow a week of self-hypnosis prior to bed. By using self-hypnosis techniques, you encourage the body to unwind at its normal time and return to your schedule faster.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome refers to a condition in which people feel an urge to fidget. It often feels uncontrollable. But what some do not know is that RLS can greatly disrupt sleep. In fact, it’s a common cause of insomnia, because the sufferer can’t keep still at night and ends up tossing and turning. Stress and anxiety are thought to exacerbate symptoms. Hypnosis can provide a means to overcome underlying causes. In particular, a sleep hypnotherapy plan for someone with RLS would provide tools for focusing the mind away from the discomfort in the body.
Anyone who regularly experiences vivid nightmares may have a nightmare disorder. Since dreams occur during REM sleep, this condition can deprive the individual of that all-important deep sleep. Nightmares may become ingrained in a pattern of thoughts and behaviors, which ultimately becomes embedded in your subconscious. Hypnotherapy seeks to recondition your unconscious to move away from the negative pattern. A hypnosis program for nightmares would seek to uncover the patterns, thoughts and behaviors that may be causing the recurring nightmares.
Night terrors, like a nightmare disorder, disrupts sleep throughout the night. People who suffer from night terrors a roused in a panic, and they’re often confused or unable to communicate. Stress, grief and anxiety are all prime contributors to the condition. Hypnotherapy techniques can help people to examine the patterns and habits of thought that are leading to the night terrors.
Sleepwalking isn't a harmless sleep disorder. Not only does it disrupt sleep, but it can put sufferers in a variety of dangerous situations. Hypnotherapy empowers sleepwalkers to update their unconscious thoughts that may be contributing to the sleepwalking. And research has shown that clinic hypnosis can be very effective for sleep walking. In fact, a major five-year study found that hypnosis helped two-thirds of patients completely eliminate or greatly diminish symptoms.
For many of these conditions, it may be helpful to work with a professional hypnotherapist. A professional can help you dig into the unconscious mind, and determine the habits and behavioral patterns that are keeping these behaviors in place.
Sleep Hypnosis Research: Is It Effective?
What most people suffering from a sleep disorder want to know is: Does hypnosis for insomnia work?
Well, hypnotherapy research suggests it does. Studies show that hypnosis has a positive impact on insomnia, RLS, nightmares and night terrors, and sleepwalking.
Here’s a sleep hypnosis research:
Deep Sleep. In 2014, for example, Swiss researchers found that a sleep-inducing hypnosis recording greatly improved sleep quality for study participants. The research found that participants who were susceptible to hypnosis stayed asleep longer (spent 66 percent less time awake), which helped them enjoy more deep sleep (80 percent more, on average).
Fall Asleep Faster. Another study looked at the effect that four weekly sessions of hypnotic relaxation had on how quickly participants could fall asleep. The results: Over the course of the study, participants who received hypnotherapy fell asleep more quickly compared to placebo and controlled stimuli groups.
Sleepwalking, Night Terrors. A 2007 study examined the effects of hypnosis on a variety of sleep disorders, including sleepwalking and night terrors. The participants received just a single treatment, but after 1 month 55 percent said they were spell free or much improved. A similar study conducted in 1991 looked at the effects of self-hypnosis on sleepwalking and night terrors. The patients used self-hypnosis regularly, during the trial. At the end of the study, 74 percent of patients report feeling “much or very improved.”
Variety of Conditions. Finally, Alfred Barrios a psychology researcher examined a range of studies, comparing the effectiveness of psychoanalysis to hypnosis as a therapeutic treatment for sleep disorders, addiction, stress and other ailments like anxiety. What he found: Hypnosis helped 93 percent recover after just 6 treatments, while psychoanalysis required 600 treatments to achieve a 38 percent recovery rate.
Ultimately, this is just a small sampling of sleep hypnosis research. In addition, we’ve seen amazing success with our clients for a variety of sleep-related conditions.
Hypnosis for Insomnia: Tips for Getting Started
Here’s some good news: You can try hypnosis in your own home tonight before you go to bed. A guided hypnosis recording or self-hypnosis program can help you relax and unwind, and it could be the answer to resolving your sleeping problems.
You have three mediums to experiment with sleep hypnosis including:
- Self-Hypnosis for Sleep: Self-hypnosis refers to steps you can take to induce the trance state, relax your body, and provide helpful suggestions to the mind. Before bed, you can follow a guided session on a hypnosis app, which might include breathing techniques, mindfulness tips and strategies for relaxing the body and mind.
- Hypnosis Books: Reading hypnotherapy books will introduce you to the science and many include scripts you can follow to fall asleep at night and practice self-hypnosis. Close Your Eyes, Sleep, which was written by our founder Grace Smith, is one of the most recommended sleep hypnosis books.
- One-on-One Hypnotherapy: In-person or online hypnotherapy sessions provide you with personalized guidance during your experience. A hypnotist will lead you through relaxation techniques to reach the hypnotic state, and then would help you examine your unconscious mind and reframe negative associations. A one-to-one session would be particularly powerful for deep-rooted sleep disorders, like night terrors or sleepwalking, or if self-hypnosis isn’t providing the results you desire.
Want to try it? Check out this guided sleep hypnosis to release anxiety session:
Whatever path you choose to take, remember that hypnotherapy requires commitment. You must first want and commit to seeing the results, just like any self-improvement program.
If you don't see instant benefits, be patient. It takes, on average, six sessions to achieve results, and some may require maintenance sessions in the years that follow. With self-hypnosis, sticking with a program long-term can help you achieve your goals.
Conclusion: Hypnosis Can Help You Unlock Restful Sleep
What’s preventing you from a good night’s sleep? There’s a good chance it’s buried in your subconscious. It might be anxiety about the future, stress, or regrets about the past.
And if you’ve experienced sleep struggles for long periods of time, your inability to sleep is now a habit. Your unconscious believes it to be normal, and it tells your mind that it make sure it stays that way. Hypnotherapy helps because it provides you an opportunity to drill down to this level, to gain control of your unconscious thoughts, and shut down your mind when you’re ready to sleep.