People with insomnia may have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. Hypnosis can help by placing a person into a relaxed, trance-like state so they can let go of any anxiety. However, it will only work if the person wants the hypnosis.

Some people may benefit from hypnosis for insomnia if they rely on medication, tablets, or alcohol to sleep. Others may be struggling to stay awake during the day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of adults in the United States say they usually get less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep a night.

This article explains whether hypnosis can help those with insomnia, including the benefits and risks. It will also detail home remedies for insomnia.

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According to The Sleep Charity in the United Kingdom, sleep hypnosis can help some people to fall asleep if they have difficulties with insomnia. However, it may not work well for people who are not suggestible to hypnosis, and it commonly does not work as a treatment on its own.

People often integrate hypnosis with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help people change their thought patterns or strategies to improve their sleep hygiene.

Other relaxation techniques a person can also try include meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises.

Hypnosis research

Letting go of anxiety is part of the reason hypnosis sometimes works for insomnia. One meta-analysis from 2019 examined the effectiveness of hypnosis as a treatment for anxiety. The researchers found it more effective when combined with other psychological interventions.

However, the body of evidence for using hypnosis to treat insomnia has not yet allowed researchers to draw firm conclusions regarding its effectiveness.

For instance, one 2022 narrative review from France examined 10 case studies, 11 randomized controlled trials, and four pre- and post-intervention studies on hypnotherapy and insomnia.

The researchers found some issues with relying on this evidence for using hypnotherapy to relieve insomnia. For instance, the:

  • study designs, interventions, controls, comparators, hypnosis definitions, and techniques were diverse
  • detailed descriptions of the hypnosis techniques were lacking
  • measurement criteria were not quantifiable
  • sample numbers were too small to show significance or be representative
  • available studies included no double-blind studies

Learn more about insomnia here.

Hypnosis for insomnia uses a technique that involves relaxing a person and drawing them into a trance-like state so they can let go of any anxiety. This may result in them spending more time in deep sleep, which all people need to heal and record memories.

A person can try self-hypnosis, which is similar to meditation. Alternatively, they may seek the help of a hypnotherapist, but hypnosis can only work if the person wants it.

Firstly, this involves a discussion about the person’s aims for the session and an agreement on which hypnosis methods the therapist will use.

Next, the hypnotherapist:

  • leads the person into a deep state of relaxation
  • uses the agreed methods to guide the person toward their goals
  • gently brings the person out of their trance-like state, which should leave them feeling refreshed and relaxed

The hypnotized person remains in complete control when under hypnosis, and they have no obligation to follow the hypnotherapist’s suggestions. They are also free to bring themselves out of the hypnotic state if they choose.

Learn more about hypnosis here.

One 2018 study reviewed 24 papers on the effect of hypnosis on sleep outcomes and found that:

  • 58.3% reported a benefit
  • 12.5% reported mixed results
  • 29.2% reported no benefit

Another study from 2020 tested the effectiveness of an intervention that combined a range of nonpharmacological treatments for nonrestorative sleep in shift workers. The intervention aimed to help people develop strategies to improve their own sleep, which they could incorporate into their daily routine.

The treatments included:

  • hypnosis
  • sleep education and sleep hygiene
  • CBT
  • relaxation and dream work

Following the intervention, the researchers found significant improvements in the participants’ sleep quality, daytime fatigue, and the time they needed to fall asleep.

The above study from 2018 also reported a low risk of adverse events from using hypnosis for sleep problems.

However, it is essential to note the potential power of hypnotherapy. Research shows that hypnosis is capable of inducing:

  • hallucinations — hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, or feeling things that appear to be real but only exist in a person’s mind
  • clinical delusions — beliefs that are clearly false and indicate abnormal thought content
  • clinical confabulation — accidentally creating false memories
  • functional pain without any internal or external stimulus or nerve damage

Additionally, the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists warns against thinking of hypnosis as a treatment or cure for mental illness.

If a person is experiencing insomnia in relation to psychosis or suicidal depression or is taking medication for another psychological condition, they should only receive hypnotherapy from their doctor or psychiatrist or with their doctor or psychiatrist present.

People may also try a range of home remedies to improve their insomnia.

These include herbal remedies such as lavender and valerian. Research suggests that these herbs may help some people to relieve their anxiety and improve the quality and duration of their sleep. Chamomile extract is also known to significantly improve sleep quality in older people.

Meditation may also help some people with insomnia. For instance, one study from 2020 found moderate evidence that meditation significantly improved sleep quality.

Additionally, the CDC’s “sleep hygiene” tips include:

  • going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends
  • keeping the bedroom quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
  • keeping electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, out of the bedroom
  • avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
  • being physically active during the day to encourage falling asleep more easily at night

Learn more about sleep hygiene here.

Hypnosis for insomnia involves relaxing a person into a trance-like state that relieves them of anxiety. There is a mixture of evidence for the benefits of hypnosis. It can only work if the person wants the hypnosis, and it may work better when doctors use it in conjunction with other therapies, such as CBT.

While studies report few adverse effects from hypnosis, it is essential to exercise caution if a person has an underlying psychological condition.