Hypnosis can help improve deep sleep

In previous studies of the effects of hypnosis on sleep, study participants were  asked to report back on how well (or how poorly) they felt they slept after hypnosis. But in a recent study, Swiss researchers were able to measure its effects by monitoring the brain activity of a group of healthy young women as they took a 90-minute nap after listening to a hypnotic suggestion tape. The women who were deemed the most susceptible to hypnosis spent 80 percent more time in slow-wave sleep (the deep, restorative phase of our shut-eye) after listening to the hypnosis tape than they did after listening to a neutral spoken text. “[T]he results may be of major importance for patients with sleep problems and for older adults,” lead researcher Maren Cordi of the University of Zurich said in a statement. “In contrast to many sleep-inducing drugs, hypnosis has no adverse side effects.”

1. It can ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
In a 2003 study, 71 percent of 204 irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients reported improved symptoms after 12 weekly hour-long hypnosis sessions, the APA reported. Of those who reported improvements, 81 percent continued to feel better up to six years after the hypnosis treatment had ended, according to the study. In a 2012 study, 85 percent of IBS patients who reported improvement after hypnosis still felt better up to seven years later. “The conclusion is that hypnotherapy could reduce both the consumption of healthcare and the cost to society, and that hypnosis therefore belongs in the arsenal of treatments for IBS,” researcher Magnus Simrén said in a statement.

2. Hypnosis can help with hot flashes.
Among postmenopausal women who reported at least 50 hot flashes a week, five weekly hypnosis sessions cut hot flashes by 74 percent 12 weeks later, a 2013 study found. Meanwhile, women who did not receive hypnosis but instead had weekly sessions with a clinician only experienced a 17 percent drop in hot flashes.

3. It can ease pain.
Hypnosis is perhaps best studied in the context of managing pain. Two meta-analyses of existing pain and hypnosis research, published in 2000 and 2009, deemed hypnosis effective at lowering pain associated with a number of conditions, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, and cancer, but noted that few psychologists were using it, and those who were had little standardization in administering hypnotherapy.

4. Hypnosis can calm nerves.
Because of its ability to harness the powers of the mind, hypnosis is often employed to relieve anxieties related to other medical procedures, like surgery, scans, or even giving birth, called state anxiety. “The mechanism may be similar to the placebo effect — in which patients’ expectations play a major role in how they feel,” Melinda Beck wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2012. “Hypnosis, in turn, can help patients adjust those expectations to minimize pain, fear and disability.” More research is needed to determine if hypnosis might alleviate generalized anxiety disorder or what’s called trait anxiety, or anxiety relating to personality rather than a specific event, according to a 2010 review of the research. Preliminary studies have started to examine hypnosis in depression treatment as well, but more research is needed.


1. www.journalsleep.org VOLUME 37, ISSUE 06 Deepening Sleep By Hypnotic Suggestion (http://dx.doi.org/10.5665/sleep.3778) Maren J. Cordi, Dipl Psych 1; Angelika A. Schlarb, PhD2; Björn Rasch, PhD1,3,4 *University of Zurich, **University of Tübingen, **Zurich Center for Interdisciplinary Sleep Research (ZiS) **University of Fribourg, Department of Psychology, Division of Cognitive Biopsychology and Methods, Fribourg, Switzerland.*

2. (*Gut, November 2003*).

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed. Menopause. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed> 2013 Mar;20(3):291-8. doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e31826ce3ed. *Clinical hypnosis in the treatment of postmenopausal hot flashes: a randomized controlled trial. **Elkins GR
<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Elkins%20GR%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=23435026>1, Fisher WI
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<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Johnson%20AK%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=23435026>, Carpenter JS
<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Carpenter%20JS%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=23435026>, Keith TZ

4. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10769981#> 2000 Apr;48(2):138-53.
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5. Wall Street Journal – Melinda Beck – April 9, 2012 “Medical Hypnosis: You Are Getting Very Healthy”