SPOTLIGHT ON HYPNOSIS: An End to Sleeplessness
By Jimmy Eldred Quast
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 276, No. 4, p. 313-318, a 1996 National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment Panel stated that hypnosis has been used effectively in the treatment of numerous conditions, one of which is insomnia. In my own work, for reasons I will mention shortly, I prefer to use simple non-medical terms whenever possible. Therefore “sleeplessness” rather than insomnia will be the focus of this article.
I must start by pointing out that insomnia is a medical condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a licensed physician or psychologist. If the standard medical approach proves to be ineffective, or the patient is unhappy with the side effects of the drugs being prescribed, or has a personal aversion to taking drugs when non-drug alternatives are available, they may ask their doctor for a written referral to try hypnotherapy. As I have already said, I prefer to use the non-medical term “sleeplessness” to describe this problem. Due to the fact that hypnosis is a separate and independent profession, our professional organizations tend to recommend that we use simple non-medical language to describe most common human problems. Even in the rare instance where a medical doctor has learned to do hypnosis and has added it to his or her medical practice, it has been suggested that simple, non-medical terms be used in discussing hypnotic approaches to any problem - in this case sleeplessness. The point I wish to make with this is that hypnosis uses the power of suggestion, among other things, as a tool to override negative mental programming. The use of medical terms like “insomnia,” “bulimia,” “migraine,” etc. actually bring with them an obvious suggestion of disease, medical intervention, and pharmaceutical use. So if one wishes to try to resolve a sleeping problem, for example, without the long-term use of drugs, etc., people in my profession believe success can be more easily attained by avoiding medical terms in favor of a plain word like “sleeplessness.”
While sleeplessness can occasionally be a symptom of a more serious medical problem, it is usually described by the sufferer as simply an inability to stop their mind from racing. The individual lays awake in bed, going over and over the same unproductive thoughts while also becoming more and more painfully aware of how the night is slipping away without sleep.
Let’s say a person has been checked out by their doctor and they know their sleeping problem is not a factor in some other more dangerous disease process. They decide to try hypnosis in order to retrain their mind and body to once again sleep naturally. An appointment is made, and the time arrives for their first visit to the hypnotherapist. After filling out an intake form, the hypnotherapist sits down with the person in a very comfortable room where the two of them discuss the details of this person’s particular problem with sleeplessness. As a result of that discussion, the hypnotherapist would probably suggest one or more specific approaches that are most likely to eliminate or relieve the client’s sleeping problem. For example, the therapist might suggest the use of hypnoanalysis techniques to quickly determine whether there might be an unrecognized cause (or causes) for the sleeplessness. Often sleeplessness is either the result of old unresolved, and perhaps unrecognized, personal issues which can usually be uncovered and resolved in one or two sessions of hypnotherapy. One way to accomplish this is by using a hypnosis process called ideodynamic communication. In less than an hour, it is usually possible to find out whether specific events from childhood, or other periods in a person’s life, have programmed the mind to be unable to slow down at bedtime. This technique can also sleuth out the hidden, or forgotten, causes of many other common human problems. I have always believed it makes much more sense to address the cause of a problem, than to merely cover up the symptoms. Let’s say the hypnotist finds out that sleep was frequently interrupted during childhood by uncontrollable random noises in the old family dwelling. Upon discovering this, the hypnotist might then use deeper regressive hypnosis to take the person back to that earlier time in their life and actually change the childlike fears and emotions to something more logical -- something better and more appropriate for the client who is no longer a child, but a sleepless adult. Exactly how this can be accomplished might sound silly to the average person, but the following are a couple of ways it has been done. The adult mind might be assisted to now imagine that the child is being moved to a quieter room in the house. Or, if the adult client now has some home maintenance skills, they might imagine fixing the causes of the offending noises in that old house. The possibilities are really endless and will depend entirely on the unique experiences and abilities of the client. The results of this approach are usually both amazing and long-lasting.
Many common problems, sleeplessness being just one, are associated with an over-sensitivity toward some particular emotional state. Excessive anger, unreasonable fear, or useless guilt are notorious causes of sleeplessness. In addition to using ideodynamics to trace the emotion to its origins and redefining the events there, the hypnotist might use an NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) technique such as Time Line TherapyÔ to desensitize the emotion. This technique can usually be completed in less than an hour, and the results seem to be long-term or even life-long.
Sleeplessness can also be an habitual behavior established by day-to-day stresses and possibly exacerbated by caffeine intake, chronic physical aches or pains, etc. When sleeplessness is found to be the result of everyday stress, there is one hypnosis treatment I like to use that is extremely pleasant and simple. A uniquely personal self-hypnosis tape or CD will be made for the individual to play as they fall asleep each night. By entering hypnosis upon getting into bed, all the benefits of the hypnotic state come into play. Brain waves slow down into alpha, then theta, levels, the heartbeat slows, the respiration slows, metabolism slows, muscle tension fades, stress chemicals are taken up and endorphins (natural opiates) are released into the blood stream, the endorphins reduce or shut down any aches or pains, and the analytical mind becomes quiet. In short, the person begins to move naturally toward a state of restful, healing sleep. Most individuals will find themselves enjoying deep and satisfying sleep within a couple of days, even if they have suffered from sleeplessness for many years. A majority of people also report enhanced mental peacefulness becoming apparent throughout their entire day along with higher levels of energy. This is a natural consequence of getting enough rest at night. Sleeping soundly becomes a new habitual behavior, and therefore tends to remain the norm.
The reader will note that what I am describing is not expensive long-term therapy. Typically, everything described here can be completed in two or three sessions with a competent hypnotist.
Note: hypnosis for medical issues may require a physician’s referral.