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Hypnosis and Insomnia

Below are research articles on hypnosis and insomnia with the key points highlighted in blue for your ease of reading.

Additional resources for learning about insomnia, causes, and potential solutions can be found at

Womens Health Issues. 2003 Mar-Apr;13(2):74-8. Mind control of menopause. Younus J, Simpson I, Collins A, Wang X. London Regional Cancer Centre, Ontario, Canada.

The primary objective of this study was to observe the effect of hypnosis on hot flashes (HF) and overall quality of life in symptomatic patients. A secondary objective was to observe the effect of hypnosis on fatigue. Ten healthy volunteers and four breast cancer patients (total 14 patients) with symptoms of HF were treated with four, 1 h/wk sessions of hypnosis. The same physician, with the help of a nurse, conducted every session. All subjects recorded frequency, duration, and severity of HF in a HF diary. The QLQ-C30 and Brief Fatigue Inventory forms were used to assess the impact on quality of life and fatigue, respectively. The statistical evaluations were performed, including analysis of variance and nonparametric procedures. The frequency (p < 0.0001), duration (p < 0.0001), and severity (p < 0.0001) of HF were significantly reduced. The overall quality of life was also improved (p = 0.05). The subjects enjoyed better sleep and had less insomnia (p = 0.012). There was a significant improvement on current fatigue level (p = 0.017), but we did not find a statistically significant reduction in the total fatigue level. We conclude that hypnosis appears to be a feasible and promising intervention for HF, with a potential to improve quality of life and insomnia. Although improvement in current level of fatigue was observed in this pilot study, total fatigue improvement did not reach statistical significance.

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 1999 Sep-Oct;16(5):665-70. Hypnosis: useful, neglected, available. Douglas DB. Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, New York, USA.

Hypnosis is presented as a valuable and frequently neglected resource for many patients with chronic and terminal illness. Particular attention is given herein to the use of hypnosis in attaining relaxation, overcoming insomnia, helping the patient achieve pain relief, and, most particularly, teaching the patient to work with relatives and other persons close to them, as caregivers in a special relationship that can be a very important source of relief to the patient. A brief overview of indications, contraindications, errors, and safeguards is given. Sources of education and training are briefly reviewed and a bibliography is included to identify the nature of professional societies, three in the United States and one international, together with some standard publications. The purpose of this article is to affirm the value of hypnosis as a complementary or alternative therapy for hospice patients, to summarize its clinical applications, and to list the most standard and best known professional societies and publications.

Am J Clin Hypn. 1993 Oct;36(2):98-105. Chronic insomnia: outcome of hypnotherapeutic intervention in six cases. Becker PM. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Chronic dyssomnia is highly prevalent and has multiple etiologies. Hypnotherapy has been reported as beneficial for insomnia, but the description of the subject populations has been limited. A group of patients was evaluated at a sleep disorders center for a dyssomnia that occurred on at least 3 nights per week for 6 months or more. Six patients accepted hypnotherapy for their persistent psychophysiological insomnia and other sleep disorder diagnoses. Three patients responded to two sessions of structured hypnotherapy. The three responders remained improved at 16-month follow-up. Factors that seemed to contribute to long-term response in this small group of patients included a report of sleeping at least half of the time while in bed, increased hypnotic susceptibility, no history of major depression, and a lack of secondary gain.

This case report concerns an aggressive, independent, and financially successful businessman who suffered with insomnia within the context of generalized anxiety disorder. The hypnotherapy included indirect suggestions for the insomnia delivered through the vehicle of metaphorical stories designed as an indirect intervention for the generalized anxiety. The client's perception of the problem was clarified and respected, but the choice of intervention strategy was designed to indirectly suggest more global changes. The creative changes made by the client were positive and enduring at 2-year follow-up.

Int J Psychosom. 1989;36(1-4):64-8. Hypnotic relaxation and the reduction of sleep onset insomnia. Stanton HE.

In the present study, a hypnotic relaxation technique was compared to stimulus control and placebo conditions as a means of reducing sleep onset latency (SOL). Forty-five subjects (Ss) were matched on their baseline SOL as measured through sleep diaries. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups: hypnotic relaxation; stimulus control; and placebo. These groups experienced four weekly sessions of 30-minutes duration with demand effects being controlled through the use of counter-demand instructions. Data generated by the study suggested that the particular hypnotic relaxation treatment used was effective in helping Ss go to sleep more quickly. Neither stimulus control nor placebo groups recorded similar improvement.

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