A good night’s sleep is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. It is just as or more important than eating a healthy diet and exercising. Prolonged sleep deprivation has terrible and sometimes irreversible consequences on our body. It has been shown to reduce reaction times, impaired judgment and has links to increased risk of blood pressure and heart attacks. Sleep deprivation is even more of a problem because of our addiction to technology and stressful modern life making it harder to get a good night’s sleep. So, it is unsurprising that desperate sufferers are trying all sort of things to cure their insomnia, from alternative medicine to hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a method of self-induced mind control where you reach a deeper level of consciousness with the help of a hypnotherapist who guides you in the process. This could include guided imagery or verbal cues. This causes people to go into a state of consciousness where they are highly suggestible to verbal cues and seemingly little motor control. Hypnosis has recently gained traction to be used for many things such as for weight loss and for getting better sleep.
Does sleep hypnosis really work?
For some people, hypnosis is something you see in sinister mind control experiments in horror films. A lot of people regard it as pseudoscience along with practices like homeopathy and astrology. However, hypnosis is rapidly gaining acceptance now thanks to medical research that can give us a better understanding of it.
Hypnosis is now used by some therapists to treat things like depression and anxiety. There are some really good sleep hypnosis apps available for your phone. There are numerous sleep hypnosis apps in the Apple and Android stores.
How does sleep hypnosis work?
Sleep hypnosis involves several hypnotherapy sessions a week. These sessions use relaxing music, guided imagery or repeated soft verbal cues to encourage people to fall asleep. A hypnotherapist may say things like “let go, breathe or relax” repeatedly in a soothing voice. You will go into a sort of trance while your mind is in an altered state of consciousness.
Sleep hypnosis aims to increase the amount of time a person spends in deep sleep. This is the stage where your body repairs itself and memories are formed.
Hypnosis, in general, has had variable outcomes for different people. It appears to be more effective for people who are highly suggestible. These are people who tend to be mental escapists who spend large amounts of time daydreaming or being completely engrossed in books or films. During hypnosis, those with higher hypnotic suggestibility are less aware that their control of actions is being manipulated.
Research has shown that highly suggestible people show higher activity levels in their prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex during hypnosis. However, the specific neurological mechanisms of how hypnosis works are still in its early stages of research.
Sleep hypnosis apps
Sleep hypnosis apps are a convenient and affordable alternative to going to a hypnotherapist. You can use the app by yourself and whenever you are struggling to sleep.
It is however important that you choose an app that is designed by a licensed hypnotherapist or professional such as the Attention Shifting app.
Like many meditation apps, these apps use relaxing music, guided imagery and soothing audio with verbal cues to encourage people to go into a deep state of relaxation and ultimately drift off to sleep.
Hypnosis, should in theory, make it easier to sleep. Aside from the hypnosis itself, sleep hypnosis induces a relaxed state and reduces stress in a person which makes it much easier to drift off into sleep.
The data on the effectiveness of sleep hypnosis is somewhat mixed (although it’s important to bear in my mind that the neurological workings of hypnosis are still unknown and that research on the topic is still in its early stages). There is no concrete medical evidence to show that sleep hypnosis works on its own. However, a study done in 2006 showed that sleep hypnosis could be used with other methods such as CBT to improve sleep in participants.
The effectiveness of sleep hypnosis is also dependent on how suggestible you are. The higher the suggestibility, the more likely it is to work for you. However, if you have tried many different options for your insomnia, there is no harm in trying out sleep hypnosis. Especially if you try out an app, there is little to lose and potentially a lot to gain.