People who have insomnia often struggle to fall asleep at night or stay asleep until morning. This can have a profound impact on their quality of life. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to a depressed mood, poor performance in work or school, and even long-term health consequences.
Most people experience occasional insomnia with minimal impact on health and quality of life, but chronic insomnia may require treatment.
One type of treatment that can benefit some people with insomnia is sleep hypnosis. It may be used when other treatment options haven't worked.
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When most people think of hypnosis, they imagine a person repeatedly following an object with their eyes until they fall into a trance. Performance hypnotists often make their volunteers perform ridiculous acts on stage for entertainment, but this type of hypnosis is not the same as hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy is a type of alternative medical treatment that can produce a trance-like state in which you may experience hyperfocus and concentration.
It usually involves a therapist walking you through verbal repetition or mental images, which can help you feel relaxed and more in control over the behaviors you wish to change.
Some people worry that hypnotherapy is a type of mind control, and the therapist can get you to do or say things you otherwise wouldn't. Rest assured that hypnotherapy is not minded control, as those undergoing it still have the capacity to make their own decisions, but they may be a bit more open to suggestions.
Sleep hypnosis refers to the use of hypnotherapy for sleep problems. It seeks to address the problems that cause insomnia, whether anxiety, depression or something else.
The process begins with the therapist gaining informed consent. This involves the therapist describing what will occur during the appointment, allowing you to voice concerns or ask questions. The hypnotherapy can only proceed once you have given the therapist permission to begin.
Next, the therapist will help you conjure up relaxing mental images to put you in a more relaxed state. From there, your therapist will give you more instructions about what to think about so that you reach a trance-like state that makes you more open to suggestions. When you reach this state, your therapist will make tailored suggestions to help you overcome behaviors that you want to change or thoughts that make those behavior changes difficult.
At the end of the session, your therapist will help you gradually return to a state of alertness so that you can go about your day.
If you think hypnotherapy might be right for you, seek out hypnotherapists that have been properly certified and accredited¹ and who rely on evidence-based methods for the best results.
No. Hypnosis seeks to put you in a trance-like state while keeping you conscious. Falling asleep during hypnosis can happen if you're feeling very relaxed, but that isn't the goal of hypnotherapy.
Although hypnotherapy doesn't rely on medications or other invasive procedures, it can still produce some unpleasant side effects and risks that are important to be aware of, such as:
Hypnotherapy isn't for everyone, as not everyone is as prone to entering the hypnotic state as others. It is also not usually recommended for people who have a severe mental illness.
Yes. Many people use online hypnotherapy services that take place over video calls instead of in-office visits. The appointments typically have the same structure, with the therapist walking you through the steps outlined above.
Some types of hypnotherapy, however, may not work as well online as they do in person. If you choose to go down the online hypnotherapy route, it's still important to choose a qualified hypnotherapist with the proper credentials and training.²
Insomnia is a difficult condition that can make everyday life difficult. Your doctor can offer various treatment options, such as a referral to a cognitive-behavior specialist or medication, but some people seem to have better luck with hypnotherapy.
If you are struggling with insomnia, speak with your doctor to ensure your sleep problems aren't caused by an underlying condition, and learn more about your treatment options before pursuing hypnotherapy.
American college of hypnotherapy | American Institute of Health Care Professionals
Online hypnotherapy | Hypnotherapy Directory