Most people have experienced trouble falling asleep at some point in their life. Studies show that around 70 million Americans suffer from some sleep disorder. Unfortunately, nowadays, we are very active during the day, have more obligations than ever before, and as a consequence experience a lot of stress which negatively affects our sleep.
If a person has constant difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep enough to get rested, it might be a symptom of chronic insomnia. There are several ways to prevent or recover from this condition. Recent research suggests that hypnosis can be one of the better treatments for insomnia, as it is natural, and generally good for physical and mental health. Read on to find more about insomnia and how hypnotherapy may help with this condition.
The Importance of Good Night’s Sleep
Quality sleep positively affects every aspect of our lives, and sleeping less than our body requires can lead to serious health problems. There is evidence that shows that bad sleeping habits can even shorten our lifespan. Heart problems may arise if we are constantly tired. Lack of sleep can also affect how we deal with the world around us. We are more likely to get angry and not be able to control our emotions properly. Because our focus decreases, we are more prone to accidents and have a harder time adapting to stressful events. Although not as essential, our social life can suffer as well. When we don’t get enough sleep, we appear less physically and socially attractive to others.
If you have sleep problems, reaching for sleeping pills is not always the solution. In most cases, sleep medications help you to fall asleep by making you feel drowsy. As a consequence, you won’t feel refreshed in the morning, but rather as you were run over by a train. Before reaching for sleeping pills, it’s better to try some natural treatment options such as herbal supplements and teas, CBT-I, or even hypnosis.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, and people who suffer from this condition have problems falling asleep or staying asleep long enough to get rested. Waking up too early and not being able to go back to sleep can also happen. Common symptoms include difficulties concentrating, fatigue, and trouble with performing everyday tasks.
Based on what causes it, this sleep disorder can be primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is not caused by another condition, while secondary insomnia occurs as a symptom of another health problem or condition. Insomnia can also vary in how often it happens and how long it lasts. It can be short, and only occur occasionally, for instance, the night before or after some stressful event. This condition is called acute insomnia.
On the other hand, chronic insomnia can last several nights in a row over at least three months. If this happens, treatment is recommended because it can be a sign of other medical or psychological issues. Knowing what causes sleep disturbance is vital as it will help with treating it correctly.
Scientists believe that one of the causes of insomnia is a problem with the sleep and wake cycle in our brain. For instance, when our brain is supposed to enter the sleep cycle, we stay awake. Additionally, the wake cycle lasts significantly longer than normal, so we don’t feel the need to sleep even though our body is tired.
Medical conditions are some of the most common causes of secondary insomnia. Among leading causes are chronic back pain, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, endocrine and gastrointestinal problems, etc. If any of these conditions cause sleep problems, it is recommended to inform a doctor as there may be a way to alleviate the symptoms and improve your sleep. Some medications can also lead to sleep disorders as a side effect.
Psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, and emotional discomfort can cause insomnia that ranges from mild to severe. Mental disease and insomnia are usually linked, and symptoms of one condition can worsen the symptoms of the other.
What is Hypnosis?
The origin of the name hypnosis comes from a Greek god of sleep “Hypnos.” Even though it means “put to sleep,” the state that is induced by hypnosis is not sleeping. It is sometimes referred to as hypnotherapy as it usually involves a researcher or a health professional working with a patient. This type of alternative therapy is used to improve the patients’ state of mind through increased focus, relaxation, and attentiveness. Patients are awake during these sessions, but they are less aware of what is happening around them and more responsive to suggestion.
When it comes to inducing hypnosis, most people think of swinging watches that make them slowly drift to sleep, but in reality, it is less exciting. Hypnotherapists perform verbal cues that patients listen to and get drawn into a trance-like state. These cues are usually spoken in a soft voice and help patients enter a state of deep relaxation. When hypnotized, patients have increased suggestibility, which means that they are more likely to respond to any suggestions made by the therapist. As hypnotherapy heavily relies on the placebo effect, some people are more suggestible than others. When successful, hypnotherapy shows results within a few sessions, and some of its positive effects can last a lifetime. Even though hypnosis can be a great help, it is recommended to use it as an additional tool to improve other therapies.
Can Hypnotherapy Help With Insomnia?
If you suffer from more severe sleep disorders, like chronic insomnia, the best course of action is to consult your physician. This way, you can find out if your problems are a symptom of another medical condition. If it turns out you have chronic insomnia, your physician may recommend other therapies like CBT-I. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective ways to treat insomnia, and it consists of several different therapies, including a type of hypnosis. The effects of CBT can be further improved when combined with hypnotherapy. Ask your doctor to refer you to a good hypnotherapist with experience in treating insomnia, and ask for additional resources that can help you learn more about this type of therapy.
When visiting a hypnotherapist, one of the most crucial things is the willingness to participate in the session and do what you are told. Telling yourself that it will not work or having any doubts can make the process more difficult. As hypnosis is similar to meditation, it is essential to be relaxed as much as possible. The difference is, with hypnosis, you are in this state with the purpose of changing thoughts or patterns. When it comes to insomnia, hypnotherapy is used to train the unconscious mind to sleep naturally and with ease. Those who have long-term insomnia usually feel anxiety when they need to fall asleep, making it even harder to do so. Through hypnosis, a therapist will try to help you deal with this unconsciously by generating more positive associations towards sleep. This is done by using positive words while hypnotized to describe your sleeping experience. For instance, “rest,” “tranquility,” and “peace” are known to work well. Your mind will stop treating sleep negatively, and it will be easier to get enough rest. If someone has problems falling asleep occasionally, these problems are often caused by high levels of stress and inability to relax your mind. Therefore, hypnotherapists usually use a step-by-step process that helps gradually reduce conscious thoughts.
Even though it has not yet been medically proven that hypnosis helps with insomnia, many studies have been performed claiming that this type of alternative therapy helps with sleep disorders. Research has shown that problems with restless legs syndrome (RLS), insomnia, sleepwalking, and night terrors have been reduced through hypnotherapy. Hypnosis can have a positive impact on your rest in several ways. For instance, Swiss researchers reported that participants who were hypnotized experienced sleep of much better quality. They spent more time in the deep sleep stage, slept longer, and were more well-rested. Different research has shown that those who visited a hypnotherapist and participated in sessions several times a week were able to fall asleep faster. A study that was performed in 2007 had promising results. Participants received only one session, and a month later, over half of them reported the improvement of their condition.
Because of its positive results, and the fact that it is a natural treatment, hypnotherapy can reduce the symptoms of this sleep disorder. Full recovery is possible as well, with both acute and chronic type. If you want to achieve the best results, you should combine it with other therapies.
Can Self-Hypnosis Help With Insomnia?
One of the best things about hypnosis is that it is simple, and almost anyone can lead themselves into this state. Although sessions with a therapist are recommended for more severe sleep disorders, acute insomnia can be dealt with by using self-hypnosis techniques.
There are several ways of self-hypnotizing. It is usually done by following already established programs for inducing self-hypnosis. You can also listen to a guided recording. These programs and recordings are available online, so there is no special preparation necessary to try this.
Most self-hypnosis programs have similar steps that need to be taken to reach a state of deep relaxation and be subjectable to hypnosis. First of all, it is crucial to find the most comfortable position, and your sleeping position is usually the best choice. Next, your eyes should be closed, and you need to relax your mind and body. It can be helpful to try to imagine tension and stress leaving your body. Afterward, you can use different breathing techniques. The program you follow will usually have a guide that will assist you. If not, you should breathe deeply and rhythmically. Take around 3 seconds for each inhale and exhale. Finally, you will need to recite a script that will help you fall into a relaxing sleep. When you wake up, you will feel refreshed and rested.
When it comes to recordings for self-inducing hypnosis, they commonly contain a guided audio or video session. These are often recordings of some of the best hypnotherapists giving advice and strategies on how to enter a state of deep relaxation. When you succeed, a therapist will use softly spoken words that should help you fall asleep. For instance, phrases like “yawn,” “peace,” and “let go” work best. Even though it sounds simple, these words are what helps transfer your unconscious mind from meditation-like state to sleep. All these recordings are relatively short, as they last up to 15 minutes.
If your insomnia is not too severe, and you visit a hypnotherapist, he or she might give you a script that you can work with from the comfort of your home. You can also ask a professional to recommend some techniques for meditation and self-hypnosis because they can be useful for many other things. For example, they can help reduce work-related stress, relax your body after intense physical exercise, or help you improve your emotional health.
In conclusion, if you can clear your mind of thoughts and lead yourself into deep relaxation, self-hypnosis will probably help you with insomnia. Although it might be harder with more severe cases, reducing anxiety with these techniques can at least improve some aspects of dealing with this sleep disorder.
Can Hypnosis be Used on Children?
Children can also be affected by various sleep disorders or just have occasional problems with falling asleep. Since there are no sleeping pills for children that are FDA approved, other therapies need to be used. Changing their sleep hygiene can prove helpful, and if not, CBT can be very successful. Children who have some type of insomnia can also combine these therapies with hypnosis. Hypnotherapy can also be helpful by itself. There is evidence that younger people, children especially, enter the state of hypnosis more easily than those past adolescence. Furthermore, some studies show that children have been successfully treated with hypnotherapy from various problems, including headaches, night terrors, and even insomnia.
Even though there is still only a limited number of studies that show positive results of hypnosis, hypnotherapy is a promising new way of dealing with insomnia.
The important thing is not to get discouraged if it doesn’t work right away. Solving your sleeping disorders with hypnosis requires commitment and willingness. Sometimes, positive results can manifest after more than five sessions. Moreover, to fully recover from insomnia, treatments may need to last several years. Hypnosis is one of the most natural ways to get yourself to sleep without any side effects.
Laura Garcia is a freelance writer based in Chicago. She holds degrees in writing from Drake University. When she’s not busy writing, Laura likes to spend as much as time as possible with her husband James and three-year-old son Elijah.