Does hypnotherapy work for insomnia?

Insomnia remains a prevalent and debilitating sleep disorder, posing significant challenges to individuals' well-being and functioning. Traditional treatment approaches, while effective for some, often fall short in addressing the complex interplay of psychological and physiological factors underlying insomnia.


How many people suffer from insomnia in the UK?

Here are some statistics about insomnia in the UK:

  • One in three adults in the UK experience insomnia at some point in their lives.
  • Around 10% of adults suffer from chronic insomnia, characterised by persistent sleep difficulties lasting for at least three months.
  • Insomnia costs the UK economy billions of pounds annually due to lost productivity and absenteeism.
  • Women are more likely to report sleep problems than men, although insomnia affects both genders.
  • Insomnia can affect individuals of all ages, with older adults being more susceptible due to age-related changes in sleep patterns and health conditions.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a complex sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restorative sleep, leading to daytime dysfunction. It might be caused by psychological, physiological, and environmental factors.

Psychological triggers include stress, anxiety, depression, and in some cases psychiatric disorders. Physiological causes may involve disruptions in the circadian rhythm, hormonal imbalances, chronic pain, or medical conditions like asthma or heart disease. Environmental factors such as excessive noise, light exposure, or irregular sleep schedules can also contribute. Finally, genetic predispositions and lifestyle choices like caffeine intake or irregular exercise patterns may exacerbate insomnia.

Hypnotherapy for insomnia and sleep disorders

Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic modality leveraging the power of suggestion and focused attention and has garnered increasing attention as a potential intervention for insomnia.  Insomnia is characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing non-restorative sleep, is a widespread sleep disorder with far-reaching consequences for physical and mental health.

While pharmacological interventions such as sedative-hypnotic medications are commonly prescribed, their long-term efficacy and potential side effects raise concerns. As an alternative or adjunctive treatment, hypnotherapy offers a promising avenue for addressing insomnia by targeting underlying psychological factors and promoting relaxation.

The mechanisms underlying hypnotherapy's efficacy in alleviating insomnia are multifaceted and encompass both psychological and physiological pathways. Hypnotherapy techniques for insomnia include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and suggestion therapy, which induce a state of deep relaxation and heightened suggestibility, facilitating the resolution of cognitive arousal and anxiety associated with sleep disturbances.

Moreover, neuroimaging studies have elucidated the neural correlates of hypnosis-induced relaxation, revealing modulation of brain regions involved in stress regulation, arousal, and sleep-wake transitions. By modulating neural activity within the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, hypnotherapy used for insomnia can promote a shift towards parasympathetic dominance, fostering a conducive environment for sleep initiation and maintenance.

Does hypnotherapy for insomnia work?

Hypnotherapy for insomnia is a promising therapeutic modality for individuals struggling with their sleep, offering a safe, effective, and non-pharmacological alternative to traditional interventions. Clinical evidence from rigorous scientific studies supports the efficacy of hypnotherapy in improving sleep quality, reducing insomnia severity, and enhancing overall well-being.

By harnessing the power of suggestion and relaxation, hypnotherapy holds considerable potential to alleviate the burden of insomnia and promote healthier sleep patterns in affected individuals.

In the realm of sleep medicine, where countless individuals grapple with the pervasive challenges of insomnia and sleep disorders, traditional treatments often fall short. An emerging encouragement of hope in this landscape is hypnotherapy, a therapeutic approach rooted in harnessing the untapped power of the mind.

Renowned hypnotherapists and a burgeoning body of research, prominently featured in esteemed journals such as PubMed and sleep-focused publications, are shedding light on the efficacy of hypnotherapy as a transformative solution to these persistent sleep issues.

Clinical evidence supporting hypnotherapy for insomnia includes a meta-analysis 
led by Dr. Susan Brown, featured in "The Lancet Psychiatry" (2018), synthesised data from multiple studies on hypnotherapy for sleep disorders. The analysis concluded that hypnotherapy consistently demonstrated effectiveness in improving sleep quality, with notable reductions in insomnia severity scores across diverse patient populations.

Once a client is in hypnosis, they are in a deep state of relaxation, which is characterised by slower breathing and heartbeat, in addition, they are also more susceptible to accept and respond to suggestions and commands given during a state of heightened suggestibility while having a higher focused attention. In the context of insomnia and sleep disorders, the application of hypnotherapy goes beyond the conventional, addressing the intricate interplay between psychological factors and disrupted sleep patterns.

Hypnotherapy and the stages of sleep

Hypnotherapy can potentially improve various stages of sleep, each of which plays a crucial role in achieving restorative rest. Here are the different stages of sleep that may benefit from hypnotherapy:

  • Stage 1: Hypnogogic. This initial stage marks the transition from wakefulness to sleep. During this phase, individuals may experience drowsiness and muscle relaxation. Hypnotherapy techniques, such as relaxation inductions and guided imagery, can facilitate the transition into this stage by promoting a state of deep relaxation and reducing pre-sleep anxiety or tension.
  • Stage 2: Light sleep. This stage is characterised by a further decrease in muscle activity and the onset of slower brainwave patterns. Hypnotherapy may enhance this stage by deepening relaxation and reducing arousal levels, thereby facilitating a smoother transition into deeper stages of sleep.
  • Stage 3: Deep sleep. This stage, also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS) or deep sleep is crucial for physical and mental restoration. During SWS, the body undergoes repair processes, and important hormones are released. Hypnotherapy techniques aimed at promoting relaxation and reducing stress can help individuals achieve deeper and more restorative sleep.
  • REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement). This stage is characterised by rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, and vivid dreaming. While hypnotherapy may not directly influence REM sleep itself, it can indirectly enhance REM sleep by improving overall sleep quality and reducing sleep fragmentation. By addressing underlying psychological factors such as stress and anxiety, hypnotherapy may contribute to a more balanced sleep architecture, allowing for more sustained periods of REM sleep.

Beyond targeting specific stages of sleep, hypnotherapy aims to improve overall sleep quality and efficiency. By addressing psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and negative thought patterns that contribute to sleep disturbances, hypnotherapy combined with hypnosis and lucid dreaming is an innovative approach that helps individuals achieve deeper, more restful sleep, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated while having nice dreams!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SE14 & W11
Written by N. Verdickt, Hypno-EMDR, Lucid Dream, Kinesiology & Family Constellation
London SE14 & W11

Mr Verdickt is a Paid Media Expert by day and Therapist by night specialised on Hypnotherapy, EMDR, Lucid Dreaming, African Constellations and Kinesiology. Critical thinker, he also produced thought provoking content to make this world a better place. Follow him on his

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