What is Sleep Hypnosis?

Hypnosis, often called hypnotherapy, is a natural treatment that can have benefits for those suffering with a sleep disorder.  There are millions of Americans who have some form of a sleep disorder every year and the use of sleep hypnosis is showing signs of potentially being a benefit to them.


Of all the sleep disorders, insomnia is the most common, with around 30-40% of people thought to suffer from it at some stage each year.  There are two main types; temporary or transient and permanent or chronic.

Temporary insomnia usually lasts anywhere from one night to three or four weeks.  There is a variety of different triggers such as jet lag, stress, change of working conditions, alteration of sleeping patterns, noises such as snoring, room temperature or what you eat or drink before bed.  If the condition returns over a number of months for periods of time, it is classified as intermittent.

Chronic insomnia lasts for at least one month and occurs nearly every night.  It can be brought on by medical conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, asthma and even allergies.  It can also be caused by the pain created by a medical condition or as a side effect of the drugs to treat them.  Other causes include depression, stress, anxiety and changes in the body’s hormones.

How it works

Hypnosis is a state similar to a trance when the individual is deeply relaxed, their attention focused and they are more open to suggestion.  Due to this suggestibility, hypnosis is often used to help alter behaviours and reactions that may be causing chronic health problems such as insomnia and sleep disorders.

While treatment by a hypnotherapist is common, there are also self-hypnosis techniques that are often used by insomniacs.  It is suggested that it may be helpful in reducing anxiety by moving the mind away from the source of the anxiety and bringing about relaxation.

Sleep hypnosis as a treatment is often paired with sleep hygiene instructions for the best impact.  Researchers have also found that the treatment may work well for people suffering with nightmares, sleep terrors, sleep walking and even bed-wetting.


One example was someone suffering from insomnia where anxiety was acting as a barrier to her sleeping.  When she was anxious, her adrenaline levels were high and this meant she couldn’t fall asleep.  Visual imagery and the sense of touch were used by hypnotherapists to help her learn techniques to create a comfort zone and triggering good feelings.  This taught her to relax and was then able to fall asleep, while during the day the same technique helped her remained focused and alert in what she was doing.

One hypnotherapist described the process as like being at the cinema – you become involved in the movie and enjoy the story, even jumping at the scary bits no matter how predictable.  You don’t over think the matter and start thinking about the actors and the quality of the sound crew, you simply involve yourself in the film.  Hypnotism can work a little like this – you are in a susceptible state where you can change the patterns in yourself instead of over thinking about things.  You can stop something making you anxious instead of dwelling over what it is.

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