If you are having trouble with sleep, hypnosis can help, from insomnia to bedwetting. Conducting hypnosis sleep disorder studies is difficult for researchers, for many reasons. In order to reach a scientific conclusion concerning the benefits of a treatment, scientists normally conduct randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.
In double-blind studies, neither the patient nor the practitioner knows whether the real treatment or a placebo (inactive substance) is being used. There is no way to conduct a double-blind study concerning the benefits of hypnotherapy. Both the practitioner and the patient would know that the hypnosis sleep therapy was being used.
Still, some psychiatric therapists feel that hypnotherapy is beneficial and regularly make use of it in their practices, despite the lack of scientifically well-designed sleep hypnosis studies. The disorders for which the therapy has been used include acute and chronic insomnia, nightmares and night terrors, sleep-walking and bedwetting.
Hypnotherapy is not used alone. It is used in conjunction with education concerning sleep-hygiene and/or behavior modifications.
Sleep-hygiene has to do with the conditions in the sleeping quarters. Televisions are not conducive to sleeping. Neither are bright lights. The temperature in the room should be cool.
A sound machine can be used to block out other noises, such as traffic or barking dogs. Sometimes referred to as white noise machines, the devices usually play a repeating track of soothing, monotonous sounds, such as waves or rain.
A person suffering from insomnia may need to change their behavior, in some way. For example, drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening or too many of them throughout the day can make sleeping difficult. Sugar and other stimulants can cause problems, too.
For bedwetting, therapists would first determine if age is the issue. By the age of 10, most children are able to stay dry, but differences in physical development can delay a child’s ability to wake up to go to the bathroom. Even then, treatment is sometimes unnecessary as the condition naturally corrects itself over time.
Hypnosis sleep therapy typically consists of “direct suggestions”. During the hypnotic state, the mind is more willing to accept suggestions. The patient is less likely to be distracted by other thoughts. Negative thoughts are less likely to interfere with the therapy. When a patient thinks, “this will never work”, they are usually right.
A hypnotic suggestion might be simply to not worry about falling asleep. Research indicates that people become worried about not falling asleep, which makes them more nervous or aroused. As a result, they cannot drift off. It becomes something of a vicious circle.
Some practitioners teach self sleep hypnosis. The patient is taught about deep muscle relaxation, how to create a sense of floating or other sensation that they associate with relaxation.
Patients are also taught to direct their own thoughts. They may use visualization or their imagination to transport themselves to a pleasant, relaxing environment. This is particularly helpful when worrying about the day’s events or what will happen tomorrow is the reason that a person cannot fall asleep.
Some psychiatrists have used sleep hypnosis therapy to help children banish nightmares. Their parents are taught how to wait for the child to fall asleep and then make suggestions about the good dreams they will have or assuring them that they are safe. Native American dream catchers have also been used successfully, as children are particularly susceptible to the power of hypnotic suggestion.
In one reported case, hypnotic suggestions were used to “cure” a 16 year old boy of night terrors. The boy had suffered from terrors since the age of 7. Other treatments had been unsuccessful. Using hypnosis sleep was achieved without resorting to prescription sleep aids which often have unwanted side effects.
So, even though there is a lack of scientifically-accepted hypnosis sleep studies, there are reports that indicate the therapy is beneficial.
There are also professionally produced self-hypnosis programs available. Many are available in MP3 format and are available on CD or by download. For example, HypnosisDownloads.com offers a wide variety of programs.