Hypnotherapy for Sleep Disorders

Hypnotherapy for Sleep Disorders

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What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is derived from the word Hypnos, the Greek God of sleep. Hypnosis means falling asleep. Marmer defined “hypnosis as a psychophysiological tetrad of altered consciousness consisting of
  • Narrowed awareness
  • Restricted and focused attentiveness
  • Selective wakefulness
  • Heightened suggestibility”
The psychological therapy that is based on hypnosis is called Hypnotherapy.

Why is Sleep Important?

Sleep is needed for both our physical and psychological well-being. Sleep restores our energy and we feel rested and refreshed to carry on the daily activities the next day. Sleep helps to reduce inflammation in the body (which lead to chronic health conditions like high BP, heart attack, stroke and so on). Sleep improves memory power, sharpens attention, improves efficiency, encourages creativity, and reduces stress. Hence, if sleep is disturbed long term, the person suffers both physically as well as psychologically.

How do You Know that You Have a Sleep Problem?

If you feel tired the next day even though you may have had a full night’s rest, if you take naps during the day time, if you are unable to concentrate, you most possibly have developed a sleep problem.

What Causes Sleep Disorders?

  • Psychiatric causes: stress, anxiety, depression as patient is unable to switch off their thoughts.
  • Physical causes: pain, infection, vomiting, diarrhea, surgery among others.
  • Medication side effects
What is the Sleep Cycle?

Sleep cycle is explained briefly to understand more about sleep disorders. A normal sleep cycle has 3 parts:
  • Non-REM Sleep/Non Rapid Eye Movement Stage: This stage starts from the first sub-stage called “Light Sleep Stage” and progressively becomes deeper until the “Deep Sleep Stage” is reached, where the heart rate and breathing has slowed down, and muscle movement has decreased. If woken suddenly in this stage, we may feel disorientated. During non-REM sleep the body fixes any wear and tear that has occurred.
  • REM sleep/Rapid Eye Movement sleep: This phase occurs after 70-90 minutes. Here the brain is very active but the body is floppy but eye movements are present. A person has vivid dreams during REM sleep.
  • Short periods of waking which last for about 1-2 minutes. Normally, you would not remember this waking up episodes.
During a typical night, 4-5 episodes of quiet sleep alternate with 4-5 episodes of REM sleep. Further, several short periods of waking up for 1-2 minutes occur approximately every 2 hours.

Sleep Cycle

How Can Hypnotherapy Help?

Hypnotherapy focuses on understanding the root cause of the sleep disorder and altering the patient’s perception of the problem but reconditioning the negative behaviour patterns. For e.g. stress and anxiety can worsen many sleep disorders. By inducing deep relaxation techniques, the hypnotherapist can access the patient’s unconscious mind. He then targets the negative thought processes and teaches the patient how to manage the feelings and to view them in a positive light.

What are the Different Sleep Disorders that Respond to Hypnotherapy?

Sleep disorder is a term that indicates any problem relating to sleep. Hypnotherapy can help with:
  • Insomnia: Here you can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep for longer time. Normally we are in a subconscious state both while sleeping as well as when we are going to sleep. Through hypnotherapy, the mind is re-trained to sleep peacefully and to wake up when the person wants.
  • Nightmares: These are realistic and frightening dreams that result in strong feelings of fear and anxiety. It is the subconscious mind communicating to the patient. Sufferers often wake from sleep and remember the dream. Hypnotherapy helps the patient to visualize the dream and in the process removing its negative effects.
  • Night terror: Patient awakes from sleep but may not remember the dream. The patient is in an acute panic state.
  • Night eating: This can be either conscious or subconscious. Hypnotherapy along with positive suggestions can help.
  • Restlessness: This can be a result of anxiety or a physical problem. Restlessness disturbs sleep patterns. Hypnotherapy can help patients to learn ‘relaxation response’ thereby improving sleep quality.
  • Frequent awakening: Also caused by anxiety and stress. Hypnotherapy helps to train the mind to let go of the problems, to quieten down and to stay asleep.
  • Confusional arousals: Here individuals wake up from their sleep, but are confused. The person cannot understand questions well and has difficulty following commands. Hypnotherapy helps to follow commands.
  • Nocturnal enuresisor bed wetting
  • Restless leg syndrome: Nerve disorder in which patient has unpleasant uncontrollable sensations in the legs. Often the patient feels the need to move the legs.
  • Sleep walking: Patient walks while being asleep. Individuals appear confused, clumsy and normally have their eyes open. Sometimes they speak incoherent words.
  • Sleep bruxism: Grinding of teeth during sleep.
  • Sleep paralysis: Here, patients are unable to move their limbs either at beginning of sleep or on awakening.
Different Sleep Disorders that Respond to Hypnotherapy

How is Hypnosis Induced?

Commonly hypnosis is induced by a therapist using mental images and verbal repetition. Patient experiences changes in perceptions, sensations, feelings, thoughts or behaviour. The suggestions given to a patient under hypnosis is an important aspect of hypnotherapy. Normally a patient may not be receptive to these suggestions, however under hypnosis these suggestions enter the sub-conscious mind thereby resulting in change in thought and behaviour.

Self-hypnosis can also be practiced by the patient. It is best to learn self-hypnosis from a expert hypnotherapist, rather than from a book.

Can Hypnotherapy Work On its Own for Sleep Disorders?

Hypnotherapy cannot work on its own without following sound sleep hygiene practices. These include having adequate time to unwind for yourself before going to bed, not watching TV or hearing/reading disturbing news before going to bed, avoiding large meals, coffee, alcohol and exercise just before bed time. A glass of warm milk and listening to slow music will help.

What are the Benefits of Hypnotherapy?

  • Hypnotherapy is a natural healing therapy and does not have any side effects.
  • It is cost effective, as it needs only 4-6 sessions and the effects may last for a lifetime.
  • It can help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), skin disorders, post-surgical recovery, smoking, over eating, pain, nausea, vomiting, stress, phobias, anxiety, among others.
Are There any Disadvantages of Hypnotherapy?

One of the main disadvantages of hypnotherapy is that it is not a quick fix. It will take about 4-6 sessions with a therapist, and then learning and continuing it by one’s self—hypnosis. The patient needs be motivated.

Disadvantage of Hypnotherapy

Tips for Hypnotherapy

  • Choose a time which is suitable for you, you do not want to be worried about meeting a deadline or about impending work.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before the session, so that you are completely relaxed before starting the session.
  • Wear loose fitting comfortable clothes while undergoing hypnotherapy. You want to be as relaxed as possible. You do not want to be uncomfortable or conscious about how you look during the session, as this will not allow you to relax fully.
  • For hypnotherapy to be effective, you should concentrate on the suggestion given to you by the Hypnotherapist.
  • If using self-hypnosis, do it in a quiet room under locked doors, so that you do not have any external disturbances.

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