This article does not cover enviromental or medial aspects of insomnia, just how you can use NLP and hypnosis for sleep improvement.

So How Do People Do Insomnia?

This may sound like an odd question, after all people don't 'do' insomnia, they 'have' insomnia, don't they?

Well not really. You can 'have' a banana, or a pair of shoes but you can't 'have' insomnia in the same way. If you think you actually have insomnia ask yourself where exactly it is?

I know this all sounds like playing with words as people suffering from sleepless nights will certainly think they 'have' a problem. But it is a useful distinction to make because how can you treat something thats not actually there?

Using the approach that someone 'does' insomnia can have benefits in treatment, listening to the client so you can ask the questions, 'what is happening here? How exactly is the client doing this?

Patterns Of Insomnia

If you are the practitioner and you are using NLP or hypnosis for insomnia you will always discover variations of the following patterns.

1. Expecting To Have Insomnia

The word 'expecting' means imagining, ahead of time, sleeping problems. People will say that they just know they aren't going to sleep well. This makes perfect sense, because if they have been suffering from insomnia for a long period its only natural that they would worry about it happening again...

What this means is that they are imagining, in advance, having the problem. that's what knowing means, here. They are looking ahead, seeing it happen again, getting a 'bad' feeling about it and possibly talking to themselves about it. I call this self-hypnosis, and I call these imaginings post-hypnotic suggestions...

2. Reinforcing Self Talk

People doing insomnia often talk to themselves about it - 'I know Im not going to be able to sleep, Im worried I wont be able to sleep properly, Why do I have this problem?' etc. Then there is the self-talk in bed, which often includes auditory thoughts exactly as those above. More examples could be, 'why am I like this, what's wrong with me', or 'if I dont get to sleep I will be exhausted again tomorrow', or 'even if I get to sleep I know I will probably wake up at 3am' etc. There are many variations of this and I view this as more 'self-hypnosis'...

3. Over Active Mind

I'm talking about the visual imagination as well as the auditory imagination here. Often, a person will be laying in bed thinking one thing after another, or the same thing over and over, VIVIDLY. That is to say, as they remember things or imagine things they are doing it in a big way. That's like trying to get to sleep with a big cinema screen in the bedroom with the surround sound turned right up!

NLP and Hypnosis For Insomnia - What To Do

A. Training them to see a better future

I start by training the person to begin to imagine having a good night's sleep, literally getting them to build images and movies in their mind, seeing themselves drifting off to sleep, and sleeping through the night. I begin in a disassociated way, that is, I get them to see themselves going to bed through the eye of an imaginary security camera, running the highlights of a movie that sees them going to sleep easily, and sleeping through the night, the movie ending with them getting up at whatever time they want to, seeing the bedside clock reach 7am (or whenever) and seeing themselves awakening looking refreshed and relaxed.

B. Training to think sleepily

I literally teach people to begin to have control over their internal dialogue. I do this in the following way. I get then to repeat, in their mind, their name and address, imagining their internal voice as being 'normal' then I get them to repeat this in a screaming and desperately panicked voice in their mind, turning the volume up and up until it is deafening. Then I get them to go back to repeating the words in a normal voice, in their mind. This gives them the experience of something being loud in their mind, and then quieter. Then I get them to repeat the words in their mind more quietly, then more softly, maybe putting some imaginary sleepy yawns in there.

C. Training them to let the images drift

As I have said, it doesnt matter what you are thinking, anxious thoughts, depressed thoughts, lustful thoughts, excited thoughts, whatever, if you are thinking these things in a BIG way, it's likely to keep you awake. So, I start teaching people to begin to let whatever thoughts are in their minds become more distant, maybe a little more blurry, fading away.

D. Use of metaphor and storytelling

I tell them stories of other clients I have seen. Inside these stories are all the above patterns and more. I don't do the simple metaphors (once there was an insomniac bunny who went to see a wise owl who cast a magic spell and suddenly everything was alright and the bunny was able to sleep well and happily ever after...). I tell stories which reinforce the patterns I am teaching them.

For example..

I once saw a man who said he suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder. In addition to the common 'cleaning the kitchen for 3 hours a day' thing, he also drove well out of his way, because if he saw a mosque (he lived near several) he found himself swearing at God in his mind, and he didnt want to swear at God because he was a good Christian. He had also stopped going to church on Sundays because he found himself swearing at God in his mind there too. And he thought that that was blashpemous and bad. But he felt bad about not going to church. And so it went on, round and round in his head. He had no personal animosity towards muslims, in fact he seemed a gentle soul. He had described everything with 'visual' words so I used 'visual' techniques. I got him to fly, in his imagination, like superman, way above his little red car and watch himself from afar, smiling and relaxed, driving past a mosque. then I got him to fly right next to his car, looking in, closely seeing his smiling relaxed face as he drove past the mosque. Then I got him to sit as a passenger, then as a driver. he seemed to be able to do this remarkably easily. In fact he was able to look forward and imagine everything being OK, but he came in for his next appointment and reported that he was better, but only about 3%. Now he was using very different language, very auditory 'I say to myself' 'the voice in my head' etc. So I got him to close his eyes and go into the church in his imagination and swear at God in his mind (this took some persuading). So he sat there, eyes closed, face screwed up with distaste, swearing at God in his head. Then I asked him to turn up the volume of the voice to make the swearing louder and his face screwed up even more. So I said, OK, now swear at God in your mind in your normal swearing-at-God voice, and his face relaxed a bit. (Now he has just has the experience of reducing the volume of his internal dialogue). I then got him to swear at God but in a softer voice, calmer, quieter, and his shoulders and face noticably relaxed. So I kept going, getting him to swear at God in a more loving and gentle voice, calmer, quieter. Soon he was sitting there totally relaxed, with a gentle smile, and when I asked him what it was like swearing at God in such a loving way, he opened his eyes and smiled softly and said he had stopped swearing at God a minute ago, and was now praying...
And that, with a bit more work, sorted things for him completely.

Hypnosis For Sleep And Insomnia

I am relentless with the use of hypnotic language and I constantly presuppose success. I dont always do obvious hypnotic inductions but I use every opportunity to place suggestions and commands inside of all of the exercises and stories and metaphors. Also, insomnia is one of those issues that can be reconditioned with hypnosis and any well made hypnosis recording can over-ride and over-write the patterns of insomnia, sometimes immediately, though sometimes repeated listening does the trick. The best way to listen is via speakers next to the bed, just loud enough to hear comfortably.

Author's Bio: 

Steve Tromans is an NLP Trainer and hypnotherapist who runs the international network of hypnotherapists and NLP trainers with offices in the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia. Steve has extensive experience having seen more than 8000 clients in 16 years of private practice.

To help with sleep issues, Steve has just released a hypnosis MP3 download available here - Sleep Hypnosis

You can hear the first 12 minutes of this recording on Youtube by clicking here - Hypnosis and Sleep

Steve Tromans
1 Harley Street
London W1G 9QD

Tel: 07900 240192