Can’t sleep? We all get difficulties sleeping at some time in our lives.
If you are struggling to sleep, hypnotherapy could be the solution to help you with your sleep problems.
Yet hypnotherapy isn’t always the first thing that people think of when they can’t sleep.
This issue is because many people do not understand hypnosis or have unreliable information about it. This scepticism is usually triggered by watching stage hypnosis and movies that promote hypnosis as a mind-controlling activity, which it isn’t.
This blog will provide information that supports hypnotherapy as a tool to assist poor sleep behaviours.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is about consciousness and focused attention. Hypnosis helps you to reduce your peripheral awareness so you can focus on what you want to change.
Hypnosis involves imagination, expectation, suggestion and knowing what you want the future to be.
And, as with all changes, the benefits need to outweigh the reasons for keeping the problem.
How does hypnosis work?
Although hypnosis has been used for centuries in one form or another, the exact processes in the brain are not fully understood. Nevertheless, brain scans show brain activity, and the beneficial effects of hypnosis continue to be reported by researchers.
How can hypnosis help sleep problems?
Hypnosis can be used to help a range of sleep problems, including some sleep disorders such as sleepwalking.
It can help in the following ways:
- Pain management because the pain might be preventing sleep
- Controlling any bad habits that contribute to poor sleep behaviours
- Reframing negative thoughts and behaviours
- Motivation for change
- Setting goals for the future
For people disturbed by their partner’s snoring, hypnosis can help them ignore the snoring and sleep.
Do you go to sleep during hypnosis?
No. hypnosis isn’t sleeping, although hypnosis comes from the Greek god for sleep, Hypnos.
Most people relax and listen with their eyes closed, although it is possible to open your eyes and speak, especially if asked.
Although some people look like they are asleep, they aren’t. This misconception maybe because they look so relaxed.
During hypnosis, most people hear what the hypnotherapist is saying. Any distracting noises become insignificant.
Furthermore, you can move during hypnotherapy, but most people don’t as they are so relaxed that they can’t be bothered to move.
What is the hypnotherapist trying to do?
A hypnotherapist intends to help you relax and make the changes you want to make to feel better.
As hypnotherapy is a brief therapy, the aim is also to help you quickly rid yourself of the problem. Therefore, depending on the issue, 1 – 4 sessions is a standard number of sessions.
Is hypnotherapy a standalone therapy for sleep problems?
It can be a standalone therapy; however, today, many therapists use it as a tool to complement other approaches to the sleep problem. Other healthcare professionals such as doctors, dentists and psychologists use hypnosis as a tool to complement their work.
If qualified to do so, some hypnotherapists will provide information about sleep hygiene. For example, it’s known that looking at a digital screen such as your computer before you go to bed won’t help insomniacs.
If your bedroom temperature is too hot, that can also cause sleep problems.
There are many other things to consider, such as your mattress comfort, noise, and the number of caffeine drinks consumed.
Reviewing all these aspects of getting a good night’s sleep is vital because changing one thing like your bed mattress may make a massive difference to comfort.
Some hypnotherapists are also counsellors, so use this with hypnosis for sleep problems.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is helpful if people get themselves into a pattern of negative thinking and avoidance.
What other approaches are used to help sleep disturbances?
Conventional methods include medications from your doctor. However, there may be some side effects and the long-term effects of some of these medications and all drugs are unclear.
Consequently, medication is often used as a short term solution to a problem, although some people may have taken sleeping tables for many years. (If you have any concerns it’s always best to speak to your doctor before stopping the medication).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) commonly helps. Typically, people require more sessions of CBT than hypnosis. For example, 6 – 12 sessions or more would not be uncommon.
Other complementary therapies and a review of diet and lifestyle could also help.
Hypnosis is a recognised way of helping people relax and deal with sleep problems.
What should I do if I can’t sleep?
If the problem has been continuing or getting worse over several weeks, you should review your stress and make changes to your work or lifestyle. If you know that stress is the problem, see what you can do to reduce the stress and balance work and leisure time. This could include booking a holiday.
If you feel that the stress is overwhelming, talk to someone at work or a trusted friend.
If you feel that you have a high level of stress or are struggling to cope talk to your doctor.
Many different things can cause sleep problems, so the first step is always to get a health check.
Some medical problems can trigger poor sleep, such as cardiac problems, depression, pain, breathing obstructions, and mental health problems.
Therefore, to treat the sleep issue, any medical problems need to be addressed as well.
Does hypnotherapy work for sleep problems?
There is evidence that hypnosis can help with some issues that are contributing factors to poor sleep.
If people have anxiety and worry a lot, other studies show hypnosis can help.
Also, if people are stressed and can’t relax, hypnosis will help.
So, hypnotherapy can help with the causes of poor sleep and the pattern of sleep disturbances.
Is there any research specifically reviewing hypnosis for sleep problems?
Yes. Hypnosis is continually being researched to demonstrate its effectiveness.
Randomised controlled studies (RCTs) are considered the gold standard when looking for evidence of how effective treatment can be. However, there are also many other types of research studies.
RCTs using hypnosis to help sleep problems shows positive outcomes; however, hypnosis studies do not always have the vast number of participants that say pharmaceutical researchers may have.
The first significant review of hypnosis and sleep problems by Lam et al. (2015) found that hypnosis was better than just waiting for insomnia to resolve; however, some of the research methods were of a low quality.
According to a more recent systematic review by Chamine, Atchley and Oken (2018), hypnosis is a favourable treatment for sleep outcomes. Still, as with all studies, there needs to be further explored.
A study by Becker(2014) also supports hypnosis in the management of sleep disorders.
Self-hypnosis can also help sleep problems. The effects of hypnosis on sleep have been recently studied by Otte et al. (2020); however, more research is recommended.
What happens when you visit a hypnotherapist?
There is an assessment
This assessment will start by gathering information, asking questions and getting to know you.
Hypnosis and the way the therapist works will be explained.
Some hypnotherapists may use assessment tools, so they will ask you to fill in a short form.
You can ask questions, and when you are happy to go ahead, you sign to agree to the suggested number of sessions at the agreed price.
You will give consent
You will be asked to sign a form either online or in the hypnotist’s office.
You will be asked to sit in a chair or lie on a bed, and the hypnotherapist will guide you into a trance-like state using specific words.
Some hypnotherapists give you positive suggestions through storytelling; others offer you direct suggestions.
In the end, you open your eyes and come back to full alertness.
Often people say that they feel like they have had a sleep as they feel very relaxed.
Some hypnotherapists provide an audio recording to listen to at home.
At subsequent sessions, progress will be checked and hypnosis tailored to your specific needs.
Finally, if you are suffering from poor sleep there are several things you can do to rid yourself of the problem. Hypnosis and CBT could help.