The inability to sleep is not just frustrating, but it can potentially be dangerous. The human body needs 7-9 hours of deep sleep every night to refresh and repair the body and mind.
If you can’t fall asleep and stay asleep, you may be looking for all kinds of different solutions.
Self-hypnosis for sleep is a great solution, because it is simple, free, and doesn’t require any potentially unsafe medications.
But does self-hypnosis for sleep work? And how do you do it? Let’s look at how to use self-hypnosis for insomnia.
- Does Self-Hypnosis for Sleep Work?
- How do I Know if I am Hypnotizable?
- How to Hypnotize Yourself for Sleep
- Self-hypnosis: Suggestions
- Self-hypnosis: Returning to Consciousness
Does Self-Hypnosis for Sleep Work?
Unlike cartoon characters, people who are hypnotized are not zombies. They are simply deeply relaxed and open to suggestions.
While we usually think of hypnosis as being done by another person, it’s not difficult to get yourself into that relaxed and receptive ‘trance’ state.
Once you have reached that state of deep relaxation, you are already closer to overcoming most of the barriers to sleep.
Hypnosis is an effective way to address sleep problems in over 58% of cases while the remaining participants experienced no adverse effects.
In short, self-hypnosis for sleep may not work for everyone, but it is a safe treatment without side effects, so it is worth trying.
How do I Know if I am Hypnotizable?
According to researchers, about two-thirds of adults are considered ‘moderate to highly hypnotizable,’ while around one-third of adults are difficult to hypnotize. However, we have little understanding of why some people are more susceptible than others.
In a study published in 2012, scientists at Stanford University studied 24 adults. Half the participants were classified as highly hypnotizable, while half had low hypnotizability.
They used functional and structural MRI scans to try to understand what was different between these two groups, and had some surprising results.
While all the participants had structurally similar brains, there were distinct functional differences between the two groups.
Among highly hypnotizable people, the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex appears to be activated in tandem with the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, while these two brain regions are not functionally connected in people with low hypnotizability.
The prefrontal cortex is part of the ‘executive’ region of the brain, involved in working memory, planning, decision-making, and attention.
The cingulate cortex is part of the ‘salience’ region of the brain, which identifies the most relevant stimuli and helps to trigger appropriate responses.
In other words, very hypnotizable people have greater brain coordination between areas that trigger attention, emotion, intention, and action.
While these results were striking and clear, the study was small, and it is still only the first study of its kind. As yet, we still aren’t exactly sure why some people are more hypnotizable than others.
Interestingly, our ability to be hypnotized appears to be fixed: it does not change in adulthood. Some of the indicators that a person might be hypnotizable are:
They Believe in Hypnosis
If a person is skeptical and does not believe in hypnosis, then it is extremely difficult to hypnotize them.
They are not Fearful or Anxious
Hypnosis requires the cooperation of the subconscious mind, so the person has to be able to relax their conscious mind enough for that to happen.
People who are fearful or anxious cannot enter the deeply relaxed state that promotes hypnosis.
They have Been Hypnotized Before
In most cases, if a person has been hypnotized before, it is easier for them to repeat the experience and enter the trance state.
Generally speaking, highly hypnotizable people have an active imagination and find it easy to ‘lose themselves’ in daydreams or ideas.
People with a history of disassociation due to personality traits or past trauma are the most hypnotizable of any group.
If you aren’t sure if you are hypnotizable, the easiest way to find out is to try it.
Self-Hypnosis for Sleep
Studies show that there can be a lot of anxiety and self-doubt in early attempts to hypnotize yourself. Trying to remember the steps, refer to notes, pay attention to your body, wondering if you are doing it right … all these thoughts can be a distraction, and make it difficult to relax and become hypnotized.
For that reason, it might be easier, to begin with, a guided audio, video, or app designed to help you. As you gain practice and become more comfortable, it becomes easier to enter a trance state, and, in time, you may not need external guidance.
How to Hypnotize Yourself for Sleep
Hypnosis has three phases:
- Induction, where you enter a relaxed, trance-like state in which you are more receptive to suggestion
- Suggestion, where you use ideas and suggest actions that will help you sleep
- Returning to awareness, where you gradually return your mind to its normal state
Induction can be any visualization or awareness exercise that works for you. Induction is best done lying down in a comfortable, neutral position, in a comfortable room with dim light.
Create a situation where you feel completely safe and comfortable relaxing. Induction for self-hypnosis typically includes these techniques:
Inhale deeply, hold the breath for a moment, then release it. Imagine yourself more deeply relaxed with every breath.
Starting at your feet, be aware of every part of your body. Imagine that part of your body relaxing more deeply with every breath.
Be aware of your toes relaxing and sinking into the bed. Then your feet. Then your heels. Then your ankles, etc. Move your awareness slowly up your body, relaxing every part of yourself, and becoming more deeply relaxed.
Visualize yourself at the top of a staircase, or floating on a cloud, or floating down a stream. Try to imagine every part of the environment in rich detail and experience the physical sensations of being there.
As you walk down 10 steps (or float past 10 trees, or blow 10 bubbles, or whatever feels most relaxing to you), relax more deeply. Tell yourself that when you reach 10, you will be calm and relaxed, while being open and aware.
You should prepare your suggestions ahead of time, and try to think of the suggestions that will be most helpful for your specific sleep issues.
Remember to phrase your suggestions gently, using calm words and suggestions instead of commands and orders. Try to think of post-hypnotic actions that can help to bring you back to this state of relaxation. Some examples might be:
Using a Trigger
This is a good method for ordinary sleeplessness. Give yourself an everyday trigger, like your bed, your pajamas, or your blanket.
Use a suggestion like ‘Remember that your bed is warm and comfortable when you get into bed, your body and mind begin to relax, and you are surrounded by warm comfort.
Being so comfortable makes you sleepy, and you can barely keep your eyes open.’
Suggesting a New Action
This is a good suggestion for intermittent sleeplessness, or travel and unusual situations. Choose something you don’t normally do, and suggest that it makes you sleepy.
For example, ‘When you rub your feet, it’s very relaxing. It’s so relaxing that it makes you incredibly sleepy, and makes your eyelids heavy and want to close.’
Promoting Calm, Positive Thinking
This is a good technique for people who can’t sleep due to stress and anxiety. Give yourself suggestions that promote calmness and relaxation, in the body and the mind.
Self-hypnosis: Returning to Consciousness
Once you are in that state of deep relaxation and suggestibility, you may naturally fall asleep. If you aren’t asleep, gradually return yourself to a state of normal consciousness.
Use a method like counting to 10, and increasing your normal awareness with every number. Remind yourself that you will return to normal awareness, but will still feel relaxed, peaceful, and calm.
Over time and with practice, self-hypnosis becomes easier, and you will more easily remember and respond to your hypnotic suggestions. It’s a great technique to help you address sleep problems.
Self-hypnosis can be a great way to help overcome many of your challenges and is an effective way to solve problems with sleep. Hypnosis accesses the power of the subconscious and harnesses it to gently influence your waking life.
You remain calm and in control throughout the process. It’s easy, free, and there is no risk of harmful effects, so there’s no harm in trying it. If you are like a lot of people with sleep disturbances, you’re probably willing to try anything, so give self-hypnosis a shot.