Hypnosis and sleep

People have been arguing over hypnosis for more than 200 years, but science has yet to fully explain how it actually happens. We see how a person is under hypnosis, but it’s unclear why he or she is like that and how the mind actually works. It’s unlikely that scientists will arrive at a conclusive explanation of the mind in the near future, so it’s a good bet hypnosis will remain something of a mystery as well.

Psychiatrists do agree hypnosis is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It’s not really like sleep, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of “losing yourself”. Under hypnosis we are fully conscious, but we tune out most of the stimuli around us. We seem to focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought.

How can hypnotherapy help?

Hypnotherapy is all about changing patterns of behaviour and that is why it works so effectively as a treatment for many sleep disorders. Though the cause of each sleep disorder will vary from person to person, there are many conditions which are thought to factor into an increased prevalence of some sleep problems in certain individuals. Certain psychiatric disorders, sleep deprivation, various medical conditions and medications as well as previous trauma are all thought to be underlying causes of many a sleep disorder.

Hypnotherapy has long since been used as a way of altering and reconditioning negative patterns of behaviour and it is able to do so by accessing the unconscious mind so it can seek out the root cause of the problem and alter an individual’s perception of it.

For example, many sleep disorders are fuelled and worsened by stress and anxiety, issues which – according to hypnotherapy experts – can effectively be resolved with the use of hypnotherapy. Usually it is not a situation itself which causes stress but the way in which we react to it. By inducing a state of deep relaxation in an individual a hypnotherapist will be able to gain access to the unconscious mind so that negative thought patterns and reactions to a particular situation can be turned into more positive ones.

Other techniques used may include that of hypnoanalysis which is a combination of hypnosis and psychotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) which explores limiting patterns of behaviour, and visualisation techniques. Visualisation may involve asking a person to imagine themselves in a particular situation feeling relaxed and calm. For example a hypnotherapist may use the guided imagery technique among children with nocturnal enuresis, asking them to imagine something creative like locking their bladder up with a strong colourful key.

A hypnotherapist may use a combination of the techniques mentioned or may feel that the best approach for treating your disorder effectively is just to use one. Either way, your practitioner will be able to tailor treatment to your personal circumstances to achieve the most successful outcome.

More information

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