Can Hypnosis Help With Sleep Disorders?

Hypnosis (also known as "hypnotherapy") is often touted as a natural treatment for chronic sleep disorders, a problem estimated to affect millions of Americans each year. Although hypnosis has yet to be extensively studied in the treatment of insomnia and other sleep-related conditions, the existing research hints that hypnosis may be of some use in achieving sounder sleep.

Woman being hypnotized
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The Effects of Hypnosis on Sleep

Hypnosis is a trance-like state of mind during which the hypnotized individual experiences deep relaxation, focused attention, and greater openness to suggestion. It is believed that hypnosis is a way to gain greater access to the individual's unconscious mind, while at the same time lessening the likelihood that the subject will inject conscious worries, anxiety, or redirection into the process of treatment.

Because of its ability to increase responsiveness, hypnosis is frequently used to alter behaviors and reactions that could be contributing to chronic health problems (such as insomnia and other sleep disorders).

How Hypnosis Is Induced

Although hypnosis is often induced by a hypnotherapist, self-hypnosis techniques are commonly used in the treatment of insomnia.

Hypnosis is, in many ways, similar to the experience of losing track of time while watching a movie or while daydreaming. While we are not hallucinating, we have stopped actively attending to our physical surroundings — and we are focused on an internal reality. Self-hypnosis, therefore, isn't as tricky as it may sound. Guided imagery is a tried-and-true method of self-hypnosis; many are available online or as tapes, or you can create your own guided imagery. Simple imagery includes imagining each body part becoming heavier, descending into sleep on an elevator, or relaxing in the warm sun.

Using Hypnosis for Sleep

If you're experiencing chronic sleep problems, it's important to consult your healthcare provider to make sure that your sleep troubles aren't a symptom of an underlying medical condition (such as sleep apnea). Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

Your healthcare provider may also be able to refer you to a hypnotherapist or recommend resources (such as books or audio materials) through which you can learn self-hypnosis for better sleep.

In addition to hypnosis, you may want to consider mind-body therapies and other natural approaches to healthy sleep.

If, after using a variety of natural sleep-inducing methods, you are unable to get a good night's rest, you should consult a healthcare provider. While sleep issues can result from mild anxiety or other related issues, it can also be related to more serious medical or psychological problems.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Williamson A. What is hypnosis and how might it work?. Palliat Care. 2019;12:1178224219826581. doi:10.1177/1178224219826581

  3. Wang X, Li P, Pan C, Dai L, Wu Y, Deng Y. The Effect of Mind-Body Therapies on Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019;2019:9359807. doi: 10.1155/2019/9359807

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.