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What Is Sleep Hypnosis and Does It Actually Work?

by BetterSleep
Jun 1 • 4 min read

Wouldn’t it be a dream if there was an effective and risk-free sleep aid that you could use everyday? Well, there’s one and it’s called sleep hypnosis!

For well over a century, hypnosis has been a well-known relaxation and subconscious suggestion technique. The use of sleep hypnosis for quitting cigarettes, managing chronic pain, overcoming insomnia, and more has sparked the growing popularity of this mysterious method of self-improvement.

Before we delve into the efficiency of sleep hypnosis, let’s explore why it’s so unique.

What exactly is sleep hypnosis?

Sleep hypnosis is a session in which a hypnotherapist, in person or through a recording, guides a client through verbal cues that induce relaxation and a trance-like state which can be used to help you drift to sleep.

Hypnosis allows the recipient to “sleep” consciously while remaining subconsciously aware. The resulting trance-like state occurs with lower-level brainwave activity – the delta, theta, alpha states – where conscious activity subsides, and subconscious activity heightens. Sleep hypnosis can also be used to put the listener into a deep and restorative sleep.

A sleep hypnosis session includes:

Settling down: The recipient lays down and gets comfortable.

Letting go: The listener is guided to place any concerns or worries aside.

The induction: This prepares the listener to go deeper into relaxation by releasing the conscious mind and opening up the subconscious.

Breathing: This section includes conscious breathing that brings the recipient even deeper into relaxation.

The suggestion: The longest and final portion of the hypnosis, this includes guided imagery that plants the desired result into the listener’s subconscious mind.

You may be wondering if hypnosis is wishful thinking or if it works. Thankfully, there’s extensive research on the effects of sleep hypnosis.

Six potted plants and cactus with flowers

The science of sleep hypnosis

James Braid, 19th-century surgeon, scientist, and pioneer of modern hypnotism used hypnosis on his patients to aid with surgeries. Braid aimed to relieve pain and slow bleeding and, amazingly, his patients had a much higher survival rate.

As it’s tempting to write off Braid’s post-surgery successes as the placebo effect, it would be helpful to look at current research about the impact of hypnosis on sleep. Does it work or not?

Recent science overwhelmingly says yes.

In exciting news for light sleepers, a 2014 study found that hypnosis increased slow-wave sleep (deep, healing sleep) by as much as 80 percent in some sleepers. Researcher Maren Cordi said, “The results may be of major importance for patients with sleep problems and for older adults.”

Parents of sleep-deprived kids can also breathe a sigh of relief. Another study reviewed the use of hypnosis as a treatment for school-age children with sleep problems. The report concluded that hypnosis was an effective treatment for insomnia in children as young as age seven.

Unwanted side effects of sleep aids are often a concern, but a recent study suggests that sleep hypnosis is unlikely to create adverse effects. A review of 139 studies on the effects of hypnosis for better sleep found that the majority showed positive results with no side effects. Researchers concluded, “Hypnotherapy for sleep problems appears to be a promising treatment to explore with little evidence of any adverse events.”

These studies are just a sampling of evidence showing that hypnosis is a natural solution for attaining deep, nourishing sleep.

To start experimenting with sleep hypnosis in a safe and effective way we suggest you try the hypnosis tracks on the BetterSleep app. Narrated by a soothing voice, they’re designed to guide you to a deep and restful sleep.

Before you use sleep hypnosis

As with any methodology, it’s best to try it and experience the results for yourself. About a quarter of the population is determined not to be “suggestible,” meaning they’re unable to be hypnotized. Therefore, results will be better for some than others.

Fortunately, sleep hypnosis is a safe approach free of side effects and it’s as easy as putting on an audio track. When you wake up, your body and mind will thank you for it. If you’re looking for more methods to unwind take a look at our guide of 21 Science-Backed Relaxation Techniques.

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