Ask anyone to pretend to be a hypnotist and you can be fairly certain that they’ll look you in the eyes and say (possibly in a foreign accent!) “You are falling asleep”. Although a hypnotic trance is not actually a form of sleep, it is a very similar state. And because of its ability to induce deep relaxation, hypnosis can be a very effective treatment for insomnia.

Insomnia has a wide variety of causes (for example anxiety, pain, and some medications) but it may also occur for no reason at all. Inability to sleep, in these cases, is just a habit. It may have started at a time when the patient was anxious about something and the insomnia may have added to the anxiety. So, even when the original cause has been resolved, the insomnia continues - the insomnia causes anxiety which causes insomnia. If this vicious circle can be broken, the patient will once again be able to sleep normally and, in this sort of case, hypnosis can produce dramatic results. The relaxation it produces will help to relieve the anxiety. And the therapist may give post-hypnotic suggestions that, even if the patient doesn’t sleep very much, he or she will not feel exhausted during the day - which is perfectly possible because a lot of the exhaustion is due to the anxiety and the resulting muscle tension.

In the moments before we go off to sleep naturally, we are in a state that is very similar to a hypnotic trance. So teaching patients how to put themselves into a trance can give them a valuable tool which will help them to bridge the gap between wakefulness and sleep. Drifting from hypnosis into sleep is a perfectly natural phenomenon and it’s not unusual for patients who are practising self-hypnosis to fall asleep if they are feeling tired - and it’s not unknown for an over-tired patient to fall asleep during a hypnotherapy session in the consulting room!

In cases where insomnia is due to some underlying anxiety, the causes of this can be investigated and frequently alleviated using hypnosis. Nightmares, too, are susceptible to treatment, with suggestions being given to the patient’s subconscious mind that will make the events in the dreams less frightening.

Unlike sleeping tablets, hypnosis is not an instant cure. The patient will need to practise self-hypnosis regularly until the ability to slip from waking into a hypnotic trance into sleep is perfected. But, also unlike sleeping tablets, the great advantage of this method is that it’s perfectly safe to use a second time, or even a third, should the patient wake during the night. And, of course, there will be no unpleasant after-effects in the morning.

Author's Bio: 

To learn more about how you can treat insomnia successfully using orthodox, complementary or self-help methods, go to The Better Sleep Site.
Dr. Ruth Lever Kidson is a qualified physician, medical hypnotherapist and best-selling author who has trained in a number of complementary therapies.