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Hypnosis for Sleep Disorders

Can Hypnosis be Used to Treat Sleep Disorders

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Updated May 01, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Hypnosis (also known as "hypnotherapy") is often touted as a natural treatment for chronic sleep disorders, a problem estimated to affect millions of Americans each year. Although hypnosis has yet to be extensively studied in treatment of insomnia and other sleep-related conditions, the existing research hints that hypnosis may be of some use in achieving sounder sleep.

The Effects of Hypnosis on Sleep

Hypnosis is a trance-like state of mind during which the hypnotized individual experiences deep relaxation, focused attention, and greater openness to suggestion. Because of its ability to increase responsiveness, hypnosis is frequently used to alter behaviors and reactions that could be contributing to chronic health problems (such as insomnia and other sleep disorders).

Although hypnosis is often induced by a hypnotherapist, self-hypnosis techniques are commonly used in treatment of insomnia. Some research suggests that self-hypnosis may improve sleep by redirecting patients' attention away from anxiety, producing thoughts that promote relaxation.

Benefits of Hypnosis for Sleep

When paired with sleep hygiene instructions, hypnosis may help ease insomnia, according to a research review published in 2007. The review also found that hypnosis may be useful in the treatment of nightmares, sleep terrors, bedwetting, and sleepwalking. However, the review's authors caution that most of the existing evidence is limited to findings from very small studies.

In another report published the same year, scientists noted that hypnosis shows promise in the treatment of sleep disorders, stating that there is "an immediate need for research evaluating the efficacy of hypnotherapy in the management of sleep disturbance."

How to Use Hypnosis for Sleep

If you're experiencing chronic sleep problems, it's important to consult your physician to make sure that your sleep troubles aren't a symptom of an underlying medical condition (such as sleep apnea). Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a hypnotherapist, or recommend resources (such as books or audio materials) that you can use to learn self-hypnosis for better sleep.

In addition to hypnosis, you may want to consider mind-body therapies and other natural approaches to healthy sleep.

Sources:

American Cancer Society. "Hypnosis". November 2008.

Anbar RD, Slothower MP. "Hypnosis for treatment of insomnia in school-age children: a retrospective chart review." BMC Pediatr. 2006 16;6:23.

Graci GM, Hardie JC. "Evidenced-based hypnotherapy for the management of sleep disorders." Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007 55(3):288-302.

Ng BY, Lee TS. "Hypnotherapy for sleep disorders." Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2008 37(8):683-8.

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