• Lisa S. Larsen, PsyD

Want a Great Night’s Sleep? Try Hypnosis for Sleep & Anxiety

Updated: Jan 10


sleeping young woman who used hypnosis for sleep and anxiety
Wouldn't you love to sleep like this? Consider hypnosis!

One of the first things that people complain of when they are stressed is problems going to sleep or staying asleep. Insomnia can range in severity and frequency, and you don’t have to have a formal diagnosis of this sleep disorder to have difficulty sleeping. Anxiety is a common factor that interferes with sleep. It may not have occurred to you to try hypnosis for sleep and anxiety, but there are many good reasons to consider it. Hypnosis can be effective for children as well as adults who suffer with sleep problems and anxiety.


What causes problems with sleep and anxiety?

There numerous problems that can interfere with restful sleep. These include anxiety about a number of issues, including test taking, work, relationships, or posttraumatic stress. Depression and other emotional problems can also interfere with sleep. Misuse of drugs and alcohol can impede restful sleep as well. The main culprit seems to be hyperarousal of the nervous system, which releases stress hormones meant to be used for fleeing or fighting. You don’t need to be in fight or flight mode when you’re trying to go to sleep.


Asian person shaking head quickly; photo by Wei Ding
Is your mind going in a million different directions?

Hyperarousal can cause sleep problems and anxiety

Anxiety is a common root to hyperarousal. A number of psychological factors can lead to anxiety, such as an overactive mind (you think too much), perceived pressure to perform at work or school, and general worry about the state of the world. Did you know that people can develop fear about falling asleep? There is a condition called somniphobia, which is the assumption that you won’t be able to fall asleep. Being nervous about not falling asleep leads to further insomnia, in a vicious cycle. Additionally, physical illness like cancer can also create anxiety, as a life-threatening illness raises concerns about one’s very existence.

Hypnosis has been found to be helpful for anxiety about cancer, as well as test anxiety. In spite of this and other research, not everyone thinks about using clinical hypnosis for sleep and anxiety.


Turning to medication for sleep and anxiety

Many people want to take a pill or drink something to fall asleep easier. A number of my clients have told me that they use medication with opiates or alcohol to get to sleep. They are not alone in their quest to solve their sleep problems with outside agents. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nine million adults turn to prescription medication for sleep. This can be effective for the short term, but there are numerous drawbacks for using prescription medication for sleep management.


For one thing, there are many side effects that can be unpleasant. These side effects can also be habit-forming or addictive, especially benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Other people use over-the-counter sleep aids or alcohol, which can fragment sleep and create tolerance and dependency on alcohol for sleep. In fact, using drugs and alcohol can negatively impact sleep in various ways.



Benefits of hypnosis for sleep and anxiety

woman using hypnosis for sleep and anxiety
Hypnosis is safer, cost-effective and healthier than medication

Hypnosis provides a brief, cost-effective and natural way to cope with anxiety and sleep problems. Some of the benefits are that side effects are rare and minimal, unlike those for prescription and over-the-counter pharmacological interventions. Hypnosis for sleep and anxiety can be easier on your organs of elimination, such as your liver and kidneys. It is safe and effective to use hypnosis for sleep and anxiety over a long time, and like any skill you can become better at using it and reaping its benefits the more you do it.


The more you listen to the recording I make during your sleep hypnosis session, the better you become at entering a useful trance state. You condition yourself out of bad sleep habits and poor sleep hygiene, and into more adaptive patterns of relaxation and sleep. I can also teach you about self-hypnosis for entering a safe and calm state.


Hypnosis can help create a state of relaxation that you can replicate themselves without needing to take something outside of yourself, like a drug or substance. While some say that it’s better to use cognitive behavioral therapy for mental health conditions, not every person responds the same way to any intervention. I am not against using CBT for anxiety or depression, but I choose to be flexible because some people prefer using hypnosis for sleep and anxiety. Have you ever found it difficult to get your conscious mind to wind down or be quiet? Were you kept awake by endless to do lists and worries when you tried to sleep?


Defeat over-thinking with hypnosis for sleep and anxiety

Hypnosis provides a comforting alternative to trying to consciously shut off the mind; in fact, with permissive styles of hypnosis like Ericksonian hypnosis, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want. Your conscious mind can be thinking about whatever it wants, but through the induction of hypnosis, you become more focused on your unconscious mind and how it can help you overcome your anxiety and sleep problems.


Unlike the maladaptive way you use your imagination with anxiety disorders, with hypnosis you can use your imagination and creative part of your mind to help you, once you get past all the barriers your conscious mind creates.


Hypnosis is adaptive and flexible

Hypnosis can be used flexibly and be adapted for different purposes. As mentioned before, it can reduce hyperarousal by creating relaxation; it can also help a person explore and remove causes of insomnia or sleep problems. Additionally, hypnosis can be used in conjunction with a number of other interventions, including psychoeducation about sleep hygiene tips and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.


There is research support for the use of hypnosis for sleep and anxiety management. For example, in addition to insomnia, hypnosis can help children and adults deal with nightmares, sleep terrors, abnormal sleep behaviors called parasomnias (such as sleepwalking), and bedwetting in children and adolescents. Most research supports the integrated use of hypnosis with other psychological treatment, which is why it might be better to receive hypnosis from a licensed mental health clinician rather than someone who only has a certificate or diploma in hypnosis.


Ready to try hypnosis for sleep and anxiety?

Given how safe and pleasant hypnosis can be, it might be tempted to try hypnosis for sleep and anxiety issues. If you are interested in addressing your sleep and anxiety issues through hypnosis, please give me a call today: 661-233-6771.


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