People often ask me about “Sleep Hypnosis.” There are two definitions for this, so I will start there. The first way of using that term is to mean the benefit someone might derive from being hypnotized while asleep. The second meaning is for a person to get hypnotherapy so they can sleep better at night.
Sleeping Through Hypnosis
I will start with the first one because it sets the stage for the second one. Someone who asks about hypnosis during sleep may need to be reminded of the difference between hypnosis and sleep – and there is a difference!
There are as many definitions of hypnosis as there are hypnotists… But an easy one is “a state of focused attention while you are following along with suggestions.” During hypnosis, you are in a trance-like state, and you are awake. Because of that, once you fall asleep, you are not technically in hypnosis anymore.
Now, sometimes when somebody is listening to hypnosis recordings, then may drift off to sleep. Since the hypnosis audio is still playing, if they are in the light stages of sleep, they may still get some benefit from listening to the hypnosis if it keeps playing.
But hypnosis requires actively listening to the audio to be most effective, so it is best you do not fall asleep while listening to that soothing voice on the hypnosis recordings. However, since I ask my clients to listen to the audio self-hypnosis session at home every day for a week, the impact of falling asleep on any given day is minimal.
Hypnosis for Insomnia and Sleep Problems
Now let’s turn our attention to hypnotherapy to help with sleep problems. People come in for treatment for various symptoms related to insomnia. It could be that they have spinning thoughts they can’t let go of. Or that that have a poor sleep routine and want to build a better habit. Or they could have anxiety that prevents them from sleeping well.
Sometimes, people wake up and can’t get back to sleep, which prevents them from getting into the deep sleep patterns of slow wave sleep. They need a way to fall asleep faster when they do wake up.
The good news is that hypnosis can help resolve all of the problems mentioned above and get that quality sleep they desire.
Stress, Anxiety, etc.
In our sessions, we get to the root cause of the problem – whether it is anxiety, stress, poor habits, or limiting beliefs around sleep. We give suggestions to your subconscious mind – giving you verbal cues to behave differently at bedtime and during the night.
Often, people have multiple problems, like spinning thoughts when going to sleep, and then not being able to get back to sleep when they wake up. In that case, we work to resolve each part of the problem. Sometimes, just making one or two changes inside your mind can make things 80 percent better. It’s your hypnotherapist’s job to find those things to change!
During a hypnosis session, you are awake. However, people report they don’t remember every part of the session – but that is true of any normal conversation. You are awake, but do not have a total recall of every word that was said.
Part of what we also do in sessions is give you suggestions for relaxation. We help you train that relaxation muscle in your mind. Hypnosis is not relaxation, but we give you suggestions to help you relax. For example, one of the most common parts of a hypnosis session is something called a “progressive muscle relaxation.” That entails having you relax every part of your body in a certain order.
Find a relaxing place where you are, and take a deep breath in and out. Now relax all the muscles in your feet. Now relax all the muscles in your calves and shins. Now relax all the muscles in your thighs. Now relax all the muscles in your hips. Now relax all the muscles in your stomach. Now relax all the muscles in your back. Now relax all the muscles in your shoulders. Relax more with each breath. Now relax all the muscles in your neck. Now relax all the muscles in your head.
When guided through this, you may experience relaxation in parts of your body you didn’t even know were tight. This exercise trains you to relax. It helps build that habit.
Sometimes it just takes changing your routine or practicing some better sleep hygiene in order to sleep better. More often, I see people because there is something deeper going on. There is that anxiety or stress that is getting to them which prevents restful sleep.