If you are desperate for some a good night’s sleep, hypnotism just might be the answer you’ve been looking for. It was for writer Shona Hendley.
I was an unwitting night owl. The blanket of darkness would cover everything around me, apart from my mind which seemed to want to keep on thinking throughout the night.
My chronic insomnia had been an issue on and off for two decades, ever since I was a teen. Sometimes it was a product of stress, or events in my life that were keeping my brain awake at night, and sometimes it happened for no good reason at all.
But when my first child came along I hit the most intense bout of insomnia I had ever suffered, and it began to impact every area of my life. My mood was erratic, my energy was lacking, my motivation had flat lined. I was struggling and didn’t know what to do.
Trying all avenues
I had tried so many techniques to assist my sleep throughout the years including meditation, deep breathing, sleep hygiene so impressive I could have been its spokesperson. But it wasn’t until I experienced this ‘newborn insomnia’ that I really tried and tested out the ‘sleep help’ market to its full capacity.
In my mission to solve my sleep issues I underwent a sleep study, which although confirmed I was awake a lot, it couldn’t actually tell me why. So, I tried to solve it myself. I used sleep apps, tried melatonin (a natural hormone that helps balance the sleep-wake cycle), antihistamines used specifically as a sleep aid, acupuncture, warm baths with lavender essential oil, an aromatherapy diffuser, ‘sleep spray’ that went under my tongue, camomile tea, prescription sleep medication and my old trusty… wine.
I literally tried everything I could possibly think of to help get me to sleep, stay asleep and allow me to wake up feeling rested but not like I was hungover for half of the following day. Although many of these had some benefit, there wasn’t any that could tick all three boxes effectively which meant, they really just weren’t doing the job in a way I needed them to.
Asking for help was the first step
Then one day, it seemed as if the Sleep Gods were watching over me because as I was at a completely unrelated medical appointment the doctor told me about his daughter who had the same sleep issues. He then told me that she had tried hypnosis and found it really effective.
Although I had never thought of hypnotherapy as the solution, I wasn’t in a position to turn away any tips that could possibly assist so I asked him for this hypnotherapist’s name and contact details and set about making an appointment.
What is a hypnotherapy session like?
A week later I entered the clinic which looked like any other medical clinic I’d ever visited and out came a man in his early 70’s, dressed in sports attire. He introduced himself as *Paul, my hypnotherapist and welcomed me into his very conventional looking room and asked me about why I was here.
After divulging my sleep issues to him I was asked to set a clear goal, what I was aiming to achieve by participating in hypnotherapy. Simple, it was to go to sleep and stay asleep. I just hoped it was actually going to work.
He described hypnotherapy as a natural trance state where changes are suggested to the subconscious. It can be used for a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional health issues from phobias, improving focus to combatting addictions. Or in my case, to help relieve insomnia.
The process was much more lacklustre than I had thought. It essentially consisted of me in an armchair with my eyes closed, listening to an audio recording of relaxing nature sounds, while he spoke to me in his very deep, soothing, radio announcer-esque voice.
He made statements and positive affirmations to me about sleep and the way I thought about sleep, essentially telling my subconscious to not be anxious about it and that I had the ability to sleep.
Before I left he gave me an audio recording about ten minutes in length that I was to play before I went to sleep each night. He warned me never to play it in the car when I drove because people had fallen asleep while listening to it. After playing it for about two minutes that first night and falling straight to sleep, I understood why.
The effects were astounding
That night I had my first full night’s sleep in years. I woke up experiencing this complete and utter sense of rejuvenation that could never remember feeling before.
A week later I went back for one more session, a much quicker appointment where the sleep messages were essentially solidified into my mind through hypnotherapy.
For months afterward, my sleep improved immensely. Hypnosis had actually worked in getting me to sleep quickly and allowing me to stay asleep for the entire night. I woke feeling like an entirely different person, like I had actually rested, my mind and my body, it was something I hadn’t experienced for as long as I could remember, and it was wonderful.