Hypnosis Improves Deep Sleep

A new study suggests that listening to audio hypnosis just before bed may help some people reach a state of deep sleep and remain there for a longer period of time. The research, published in the journal Sleep, is the first to observe the connection between hypnosis and sleep through the measurement of brain wave activity.

Deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep, is the most restorative state of rest. When you enter into a deep sleep, your brain is able to process the day’s experiences and help you recover. As people begin to age, however, deep sleep is harder to obtain, and many older adults say they have feel less rested or refreshed in the morning.

For the study, Swiss scientists recruited 70 healthy females ages 18 to 35. Before they began, the women were categorized as either “highly suggestible” to hypnosis or placed in the “low suggestible” group.

Being highly suggestible to hypnosis has no relation to being gullible. In fact, many gullible people cannot be hypnotized. Being prone to hypnosis is surprisingly related to a person’s decision-making skills. In another study, Stanford scientists found that people who were suggestible to hypnosis were those who had an easier time making decisions and had stronger attention spans. On the other hand, those who were quick to judge and more strict in their habits were least likely to be hypnotized.

During this study, the women—none of whom had any history of sleep problems—participated in a sleep lab once a week for five weeks. During each sleep experiment, the women were connected to electrodes that monitored brain-wave activity and sleep patterns. As they lay in bed in a dark room, the participants listened to a 13 minute audio tape: some tapes featured a hypnotic suggestion to go into a deeper sleep, while others were neutral. The women were allowed to fall asleep during or after the tapes. After sleeping for 90 minutes, the participants were awakened.

The findings showed that hypnosis caused women in the “highly suggestible” group to sleep 67 percent longer overall. Their deep sleep time was significantly enhanced as well—rising by approximately 80 percent. Audio hypnosis did not improve sleep in those labeled as “low-suggestible.”

According to experts, about half of the general population is moderately suggestible to hypnosis. Therefore, audio hypnosis could prove to be a very useful and drug-free way to help improve sleep for many people.