By Yael Brender
Hypnotherapy, named after the Greek god Hypnos, the god of sleep, works by reaching the subconscious mind to find the real issues and then mining the brain’s internal resources to find a solution. Hypnosis has enjoyed a level of success in treating smoking addiction, anxiety, childbirth pain and depression. So could it work to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer?
There are a plethora of sleep disorders you can have without knowing; agryniaphobia (the fear of not falling asleep), insomnia (not being able to sleep enough), interrupted sleep (waking up frequently), nightmares, night terrors and sleep walking, to name a few. Sleep disorders can be caused by any number of factors; depression, anxiety, unwanted thoughts, memories, fears from the past, stress, trauma, chronic pain, grief and many more.
Hypnosis is defined as a relaxed, focused state of awareness. Brain scans have shown that during hypnosis, the brain assumes a state similar to just before sleep, which is why it becomes too easy to subsequently fall asleep. (It’s not like stage performing hypnotists, where you can apparently be forced to act against your will)
Dr Peter Hauri of the Mayo Clinic carried out a small-scale study in 2009 with remarkably positive results. A five-year follow up to the study published this year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reported a fifty per cent improvement in patients (with the use of hypnotherapy to get to sleep) after eighteen moths, and a sixty-seven per cent improvement in five years. The study concluded that more research is warranted but clinical use is recommended.
David Oakley and Peter Halligan co-authored a new study in 2013 stating a hypnotised brain reduces activity in the brain’s normal functions and increases activity in the attentional systems. This means the brain functions in a different way during hypnosis – it is not ‘shut down’. According to Oakley, hypnosis is one of the most remarkable but under-researched human cognitive abilities, and one with endless potential.
While there is any number of unlicensed hypnotherapists waiting to take your money, there are also free apps for your phone that can teach you self-hypnosis or contain audio tracks designed to hypnotise you to sleep.
There are some dissenting voices. New research from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2012 has shown that not everyone can be hypnotised. The study, published in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, concluded that the difference in activity level in the areas of the brain associated with executive control and attention mean that twenty-five per cent of people cannot be put into a hypnotic trance.
My top recommendation is ‘Sleep Soundly Hypnosis’ from the Android store. Developed by Kym Tolson, the owner of HypnoTransformations, the app is free, has had over half a million downloads and almost uniformly positive consumer reviews. So if you’re ready for a new cure to kick the old insomnia, look no further!
By Bondi Beauty Intern Yael Brender
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