Hypnosis May Help Improve Deep Sleep
Study finds that those highly suggestible to hypnosis can have deeper sleep after hypnotic suggestion
Hypnosis did not improve sleep in those deemed low-suggestible to hypnosis, the study found. However, women in the highly suggestible group slept 67 percent more and saw their "deep sleep" time rise by roughly 80 percent following exposure to audio hypnosis.
Other phases of sleep did not appear to be affected by hypnotic suggestion. However, the team further observed that slow-wave activity during the deep sleep phase was "significantly enhanced" following hypnosis. This suggests that not only does hypnosis boost deep sleep quantity, it may also improve deep sleep quality.
The team acknowledged that the study only included female participants. This was by design because men have a tendency to be less suggestible to hypnosis overall. However, men who are highly suggestible would probably derive similar sleep benefits from hypnosis, Rasch's team said.
And given that roughly half the general population is believed to be moderately suggestible to hypnosis, the team concluded that hypnosis could ultimately prove to be a very useful -- and side-effect free -- way to help improve sleep.
"I have to emphasize that we did not focus on sleep-disorder patients," said Rasch. "These were all healthy people. So while our findings are really promising, we do not yet have proof that hypnosis will help people who suffer from sleep disturbances. I would say it would. But it's not yet proven," he added.
"Also, although the impact of hypnosis on suggestible people was really clear and, I would say, amazing, I do not think that hypnosis would ever completely replace the need for sleep medication for those who need it," Rasch said. "It could certainly reduce the need. But I don't expect miracles from hypnosis. It's a technique to consider. But in really strong cases of sleep disturbance a medical intervention might be necessary."
Hutchison believes hypnosis can play a role in helping some people sleep better.
"I have found hypnosis can be helpful, even for non-susceptible patients," she said. "Because it gives them something to focus on, and helps them to relax and quiet their mind before sleeping."
Hutchison added that "there's anecdotal evidence that the relaxation achieved can help improve sleep quality. In fact, I have been recommending sleep hypnosis phone apps for about the past five years."
Findings from the study were published this month in the journal Sleep.