A good night’s sleep is important to one’s physical and mental restoration. In particular it has a positive impact on memory and the functioning of the immune system. However, many people have a difficult time getting as much restful sleep as they need. Individuals with sleep disturbances can be successfully treated with hypnotherapy because hypnosis can influence the body’s processes which are very difficult to control voluntarily. It doesn’t work to just will yourself to go to sleep when life stresses are interfering with your relaxation. In fact, willing yourself to sleep and then failing actually produces more anxiety which of course is very counterproductive to sleeping. Also, many people do not want to become dependent on drugs to get to sleep every night although millions are. In contrast to many sleep-inducing drugs, hypnosis has no adverse side effects.
Hypnosis can be very effective in promoting sleep through suggestions that produce relaxation. That in itself is a powerful sleep aid. Hypnotherapists use many methods such as imagining yourself gently moving down a staircase or a long winding path or perhaps an elevator. These hypnotic inductions are much better done by a professional since proper tempo and word usage is vital and different for each person. Then there are many different visualizations each person can use according to what is relaxing to that particular person. For example, one person may find it very relaxing to visualize walking through a beautiful wooded forest while another may be terrified of bears or allergic to the plants.
Another reason why this must be done by a professional is that some folks are not visual and become frustrated when guided to visualize something. Other techniques can be individualized for people who are more auditory or others who are kinesthetic, more feeling.
Beyond the hypnotic suggestions, however, hypnotherapy, by a Heart-Centered Hypnotherapist can be helpful in discovering underlying stresses that an individual may be unaware of consciously. For example, many people have underlying emotional connections that prevent them from going to sleep. Sleep may trigger feelings of anxiety for highly productive people who subconsciously may feel that when they’re asleep, they’re not accomplishing anything. Other people had difficult childhood experiences during the night time like abuse where they were often awakened to parents fighting, someone being hurt, or even sexual abuse. People often do not make these associations consciously, however. Hypnotherapy can help the individual recognize what is actually underneath their sleep disorder and then to heal it.
Slow-wave brain waves -- an indicator of sleep quality – increased by 80 percent with hypnosis
The reason that hypnosis is effective in promoting sleep is found in similarities in brain wave patterns in both sleep and hypnosis. The characteristic feature of slow-wave sleep, which is deemed to have high restorative capacity, is a very even and slow oscillation in electrical brain activity. Hypnosis produces a similar brain wave pattern, dominated by the slow-wave theta frequency that is characteristic of dreaming REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Sleep researchers from the Universities of Zurich and Fribourg published a study in the scientific journal Sleep, documenting that hypnosis has a positive impact on the quality of sleep, to a surprising extent. "It opens up new, promising opportunities for improving the quality of sleep without drugs", says biopsychologist Björn Rasch who heads the study at the University of Zurich.
Their study documented that highly suggestible women experienced 80 percent more slow-wave sleep after listening to the hypnosis tape compared with sleep after listening to the neutral text. Also, time spent awake was reduced by around one-third for these subjects. Predictably, low suggestible participants did not benefit as much from hypnosis as the highly suggestible participants.
According to psychologist Maren Cordi “the results may be of major importance for patients with sleep problems and for older adults.” Also, women commonly begin to have sleep problems while going through menopause. When the hormones change and the amount of estrogen produced is lower, then women often take much longer to fall asleep. Again, the hypnosis can help with balancing the hormonal levels to produce a much more balanced pattern of sleep.
Maren J. Cordi, Angelika A. Schlarb, Björn Rasch. (2014). Deepening Sleep by Hypnotic Suggestion. Sleep, 37(6), 1143-1152.