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How Does Sleep Hypnosis Work and Can It Improve Your Sleep?

Sleep hypnosis uses hypnotherapy to address sleeping issues. It's typically combined with other treatments and guided by a trained expert. This article looks into how sleep hypnosis works and its impact on sleep problems like insomnia.

Key takeaways:

What is sleep hypnosis?

Hypnosis involves reaching a relaxed and focused state where you’re open to suggestions. Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to help with health issues. During sleep hypnosis, these techniques are used to tackle sleep problems and disorders.

The goal of sleep hypnosis isn’t to induce sleep during the session. Instead, it focuses on changing any negative sleep habits or thoughts you may have. This process intends to improve your sleep quality after the hypnosis session.

Your provider may recommend that you try sleep hypnosis along with other treatments. A common approach is to combine sleep hypnosis with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). This method involves reframing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors contributing to sleep difficulties.

Sleep hypnosis also encourages the adoption of healthier sleep habits by promoting better sleep hygiene.

How does sleep hypnosis work?

Hypnotherapy involves a series of steps, which may include:

  1. Informed consent. Before starting, the hypnotherapist will walk you through the process. Once your questions are answered, you can decide whether you want to proceed or not.
  2. Visualizing calming imagery. This involves thinking about something peaceful or comforting. It usually happens at the beginning of the session to help you relax.
  3. Deepening focus. Once you're feeling relaxed, the hypnotherapist helps you enter a deeper state of focused attention.
  4. Therapeutic suggestions. Once you're in a trance-like state, the hypnotherapist offers tailored guidance related to your specific issue. This could involve suggestions like "Experience deeper and more restorative sleep" or "Start going to bed earlier every night."
  5. Session conclusion. Following the personalized suggestions, the hypnotherapist will guide you back to a state of full alertness.

You might find that several sleep hypnosis sessions are helpful, but generally, you don't have to keep doing it regularly to see the benefits.

Self-hypnosis for sleep

Experts recommend that a trained professional guide you through sleep hypnosis. Someone with proper training can lead you more effectively towards your goals.

Self-hypnosis is also possible. You’ll find apps, vídeos, and recordings that use different techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and imagery, to help you get into the hypnotic state.

For some people, using an app is more convenient than visiting a hypnotherapist in person. Sometimes, people have initial sessions with their provider and then continue exercises at home to make the benefits of hypnotherapy last longer.

In a study, 95 female cancer survivors were split into two groups. One group practiced self-hypnosis, while the other did not. The self-hypnosis group showed a notable decrease in fatigue, sleep problems, and emotional stress compared to the other group. Most of these benefits were maintained one year after the intervention.

The risks and benefits of self-hypnosis are not fully understood. Consulting a healthcare professional before attempting self-hypnosis techniques is a responsible step to take.

Hypnotherapy as an alternative treatment for sleep issues

Sleep problems are common in the general population; about one-third of adults sleep less than needed.

The two most common approaches to managing sleep disturbances are medicine, like benzodiazepines and serotonin receptor antagonists, and CBT-I. Still, CBT-I can be time consuming, and sleep pills usually come with undesirable side effects.

Sleep hypnosis could be a good option for dealing with sleep problems, giving people an alternative to CBT-I and meds.

Hypnotherapy can also help with different problems that affect sleep, like anxiety, stress, and pain. This could give hypnosis another route to help improve sleep.

Studies indicate that the content of the suggestions may influence how sleep is affected. For instance, suggestions that encourage lighter sleep are linked to decreased slow-wave sleep (SWS). In contrast, when hypnotic suggestions aim for deeper sleep, SWS increases.

What does science say?

A recent review looked into 44 studies about using hypnotherapy for sleep problems. The findings indicated that about 48% of the studies showed positive results with hypnotherapy, 23% had mixed results, and 29% showed no impact. Interestingly, 54% of the studies showed positive results when suggestions for sleep were examined. The researchers concluded that hypnotherapy seems like a promising treatment for sleep disturbances.

In another review of multiple studies, scientists assessed the impact of different treatments, including hypnotherapy, on insomnia. They found that hypnotherapy helped people get to sleep more quickly. However, due to the limited number of studies, it’s still uncertain whether sleep hypnosis can help with insomnia.

Is sleep hypnosis dangerous?

Many people link hypnosis with negative concepts such as mind control or manipulation, but that’s not the case with hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy is a safe procedure when done by a trained and specialized professional.

Your healthcare professional won’t make you do anything embarrassing or request you to do stuff you’re not comfortable with.

It's worth mentioning that sleep hypnosis, like any other treatment, might lead to some unwanted side effects. These could include:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • False memories
  • Panic attacks

Around 7% of individuals undergoing hypnotherapy may experience moderate to severe side effects. It's possible that these numbers could be higher due to underreporting.

For those dealing with mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), consulting with an experienced hypnotherapist is recommended. It’s advisable to talk to your healthcare professional before considering hypnotherapy.

Other methods for better sleep

Sleep hypnosis can be an effective therapy for sleep problems, but it may not work for everyone. For those who don’t see a benefit, there are other ways to promote better sleep. This includes improving your sleep hygiene by following these tips:

  • Be consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including on weekends.
  • Put devices away. Avoid using electronic devices before going to bed.
  • Watch your intake. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake in the evening. Also, avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Improve your environment. Make your bedroom environment pleasant for sleep. Keep it quiet, cool, and dark.
  • Create a calming bedtime routine. You could try listening to soothing music, practicing meditation, or enjoying a warm bath.

Sleep hypnosis can be a safe and effective treatment for sleep problems, especially if done by a trained professional. However, it can cause side effects in some people, and not everyone might benefit from sleep hypnosis. So, talking to a healthcare professional before trying sleep hypnosis and practicing good sleep habits remain important.

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