By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m a hypnosis junkie. I’ve been using hypnosis for myself since I was 10 years old, and let me tell you, the uses are endless. When my clients express interest in hypnosis, at the top of their list of issues is “poor sleep”. When clients come to me for hypnosis for sleep, I inwardly clap my hands. Hypnosis is a phenomenal tool for improving sleep, and my clients mostly see success the first night after our session together. Having your hypnosis practitioner teach you self-hypnosis that is specific to you is ideal; I teach my client self-hypnosis in session. If you can’t scoot in for a visit, consider giving self-hypnosis a try for a better night’s sleep. It’s easier than you think! These are my top tips to get started on self-hypnosis for a good night’s sleep:
This is the fine print of safe practices for hypnosis. Do not practice hypnosis while driving a car or operating any other heavy machinery. Do it at home, while comfortably in bed or on your couch, during a time when you don’t feel pressured to leave (if you’re picking up the kids or leaving for a meeting in five minutes, wait until later). Do not do it when you think you may be interrupted or while responsible for small children. Do not have any food in your mouth you could choke on. Good to go? Get yourself comfy in your bed or on your couch, and let’s begin.
2. Set the stage for deep relaxation.
Close your eyes, and let your arms and legs be unencumbered. Begin with slow, deep breaths, bringing your focus to the rhythm of your breath. Next, let’s free the body of tension; bring your focus to each group of muscles throughout your body, seek out any stress or tension you may be holding there, and release it with your next exhale. Going from head to toe, begin with your temples and jaw, then down to your neck, shoulders and arms, down through your back and abdomen, and down through your buttocks, legs and feet. Note how relaxed and free from tension you feel.
3. Guide yourself deeper.
Keep key words in your head that give way to relaxation. Some good ones are “calm, comfortable, relaxed”, but use any words that you connect to. Envision yourself in a special, relaxing place. This place can be somewhere you know or someplace that your mind created; all that matters is that it is a calm, comfortable place in which you feel completely safe, content, relaxed, and happy. This is a place to keep your conscious mind busy and content while you begin speaking to your subconscious mind.
4. A note about the subconscious mind…
The subconscious mind is that part of consciousness that is susceptible, where memories are stored, and where functions happen automatically. This susceptibility lets your mind take in the suggestions you give it very easily. If you are practicing hypnosis on your own, keep things simple.
5. Give yourself the instructions.
As mentioned above, your subconscious mind should now be primed for suggestion. I advise you to consider your needs to create your own suggestions before beginning your hypnosis. For example, if you’re struggling with initially falling asleep at night, a good suggestion would be, “I will find that my mind and body are completely ready for sleep once I get into bed at night. Knowing this, I find it so easy to fall asleep comfortably and naturally. I will wake up feeling rested and refreshed tomorrow morning.” In the event of emergency, you would easily come out of your hypnosis and be able to deal with whatever may be happening, however I always suggest including a suggestion to ensure that you will easily regain consciousness quickly in case of emergency. A good suggestion for this may be, “While I’m sleeping, if there is something urgent that needs my attention, I easily and immediately wake from my sleep feeling ready to deal with anything.”
6. Wrap it up.
If you are conducting your hypnosis while in bed at night and want to fall asleep at the conclusion of your hypnosis, your final suggestion to yourself may be to fall asleep and that you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready for your day at <insert time here> o’clock. If you are doing your hypnosis during the day and want to carry on with the rest of your day before having a restful sleep later, a good conclusion to your hypnosis would include counting from 1 to 3, and telling yourself that with each number you will become more and more aware, refreshed, alert, and ready to carry on with your day. You should then awaken feeling very relaxed but ready to go on with your day, and the suggestions you’ve given yourself will be ready to go once you go to sleep at night.
While hypnosis may seem really involved, it is a natural state of mind that we all go into and come out of throughout the day. Ever feel “zoned out”? That’s natural hypnosis! Using it to guide your relaxation or reach a goal is a wonderful way to harness a tool you already possess. If you feel unsure about using hypnosis safely, always visit your hypnosis practitioner; they will be able to guide you and teach you methods for hypnosis specific to your individual needs. Remember that everyone is unique and may respond better to different suggestions and imagery; this is a generic guide to get you started, but is completely adaptable to your unique self. Sweet dreams!
**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.