top of page

Sleep disorders

There are a great many reasons why people suffer from insomnia. Hypnotherapy is a very useful treatment for most sleep disorders. Learning how to quiet an overthinking mind, transforming paths of past fears, creating a peaceful 'sleep-ready' state at bedtime and a better relationship with the 'idea of sleep' are some of the steps to re-train into a restful sleep habit.

From the research below...

"The success of the technique [hypnotherapy] with all three cases suggests it might well be used more widely in the treatment of insomnia". (Stanton)


Yapko, Michael. (2010). Hypnosis and Sleep. In Barabasz, Arreed 
Franz (Ed); Olness, Karen (Ed); Boland, Robert (Ed); Kahn, Stephen 
(Ed), Medical Hypnosis Primer: Clinical and Research Evidence, (pp. 
65-71). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. 

This brief chapter will focus specifically on how hypnosis can help resolve 
insomnia that is secondary to depression. Depression is the most common mood 
disorder in the world and, according to the World Health Organization (2001), is a 
leading cause of human suffering and disability that is still increasing in prevalence. 
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder related to depression. 

Weidong, Wang; Fang, Wang; Yang, Zhao; Menghan, Lv; Xueyu, Lv. 
(Dec 2009). Two Patients with Narcolepsy Treated by Hypnotic 
Psychotherapy. Sleep Medicine, Vol 10(10), 1167. 

Narcolepsy is a primary sleep disorder characterized by uncontrollable and 
excessive daytime sleepiness associated with one or all of the following: cataplexy, 
sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations and nocturnal sleep disturbance. To our 
knowledge there is no report in the literature of narcolepsy being successfully 
treated by pure hypnosis and psychotherapy. We now report two such patients. Two
boys, 15 and 17 years old, complained of uncontrollable excessive daytime 
sleepiness (EDS), frequent cataplexy triggered by laughter, hypnagogic 
hallucinations and sleep paralysis for the past 5 years. Based on these limited 
observations, we suggest that hypnotherapy should be considered in those with 
strong psychological factors associated with narcolepsy-cataplexy, particularly in 
children and adolescents. This will obviate use of multiple stimulants, sodium 
oxybate and antidepressants, which are often associated with undesirable 
consequences without necessarily curing or significantly improving the condition. 

Graci, Gina M.; Hardie, John C. (Jul 2007). Evidence-Based 
Hypnotherapy for the Management of Sleep Disorders. 
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol 
55(3), 288-302. 

There is a plethora of research suggesting that combining cognitive-behavioural 
therapy with hypnosis is effective for a variety of psychological, behavioural, and 
medical disorders. The objectives of this paper are: to provide a review of the most 
common sleep disorders, with emphasis on insomnia disorders; discuss the 
cognitive-behavioural approaches to insomnia; and review the existing empirical 
literature on applications of hypnotherapy in the treatment of sleep disturbance.

The overreaching goal is to educate clinicians on how to incorporate sleep therapy

with hypnotherapy. 

Yapko, Michael D. (2006). Utilizing Hypnosis in Addressing 
Ruminative Depression-Related Insomnia. In Yapko, Michael D. 
(Ed), Hypnosis and Treating Depression: Applications in Clinical 
Practice, (pp. 141-159). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis 

This chapter addresses the relationship between secondary insomnia and major 
(unipolar) depression. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder related to 
depression. The focus of this chapter was narrowed to a very common coping style, 
rumination, which can be a harbinger of an impending depression, or can be a most 
troubling facet of an existing depression. Rumination is generally an agitating 
process and is directly responsible for much of the anxiety associated with 
depression. In turn, it helps generate secondary insomnia, and can reasonably be 
considered a likely causal or exacerbating factor in middle and terminal insomnia as 
well, although this has yet to be clearly established. A hypnotic intervention is 
described that must be provided in conjunction with additional therapeutic 
interventions addressing the related issues specified (e.g., teaching the client 
effective ways to make distinctions between useful analysis and useless 
ruminations, compartmentalize various aspects of experience, develop better coping

skills, develop more effective decision-making strategies, and develop good 
behavioural and thought habits regarding sleep) and therefore is indicated when the 
client has an identifiable pattern of rumination that negatively affects his or her 
ability to fall or stay asleep. 

Graci, Gina; Sexton-Radek, Kathy. (2006). Treating Sleep Disorders 
Using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Hypnosis. In Chapman, 
Robin A. (Ed), The Clinical Use of Hypnosis in Cognitive Behaviour 
Therapy: A Practitioner’s Casebook, (pp. 295-331). New York, NY: 
Springer Publishing Co. 

The goal of this chapter is to educate clinicians regarding how to incorporate the 
use of cognitive behaviour treatment (CBT) with hypnosis in the treatment of sleep 
disorders. A summary of the basic science of sleep medicine as applied to CBT is 
provided. This summary includes an explanation of the sleep-wake cycle, sleep 
stages, review of the most common categories of sleep disorders, and a discussion 
of the general and specific cognitive behavioural approaches to insomnia treatment 
and case examples of treating sleep disturbance using CBT with hypnosis 

Howsam, David G. (May 1999). Hypnosis in the Treatment of 
Insomnia, Nightmares and Night Terrors. Australian Journal of 
Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, Vol 27(1), 32-39. 

This case study illustrates the use of hypnosis to alleviate insomnia, nightmares, 
night terrors, and fear of the dark in an 11-yr-old boy, which occurred as a result of 
severe injury and hospitalization causing separation anxiety disorder. It 
demonstrates the matching of hypnotic interventions with the individual needs and 
preferences of the client. 

Stanton, Harry E. (1999). Hypnotic Relaxation and Insomnia: A 
Simple Solution? Sleep and Hypnosis, Vol 1(1), 64-67. 

After a brief review of the use of behavioural strategies in the treatment of sleep 
onset insomnia, attention is centred upon one such strategy, hypnotic relaxation.

A specific technique embracing visualization of a garden scene; letting go of 
problems; and a special place visualization, is described and its application to the 
problem of insomnia illustrated by means of 3 case studies (2 males, 43 and 22 yrs 
of age and 1 female, aged 37 yrs). Each of these studies deals with a different type 
of insomnia: 1) slow sleep onset, 2) waking during the night, and 3) difficulty in 
sleeping during the day. The success of the technique with all three cases suggests

it might well be used more widely in the treatment of insomnia. 

Rosenberg, C. (1995). Elimination of a Rhythmic Movement 
Disorder with Hypnosis--A Case Report. Sleep, Vol. 18, 608-9. 

The following describes a case of rhythmic movement disorder successfully treated 
with hypnosis. Hypnosis and its use in sleep disorders are discussed, and it is 
hypothesized that hypnosis is an effective intervention in disorders that occur at the 
interface between waking and sleep. 

Becker, Philip M. (Oct 1993). Chronic Insomnia: Outcome of 
Hypnotherapeutic Intervention in Six Cases. American Journal of 
Clinical Hypnosis, Vol 36(2), 98-105. 

Patients were evaluated at a sleep disorders centre for a dyssomnia that occurred at 
least 3 nights/wk for 6 months or more. Six adults accepted hypnotherapy for their 
persistent psychophysiological insomnia and other sleep disorder diagnoses. Three 
patients responded to 2 sessions of structured hypnotherapy. The 3 responders 
remained improved at 16-mo 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.

bottom of page