Hypnotherapy and sleep problems
You don't have to have been up all night with a baby to have sleep problems. Sleep – just saying the word makes you want to slip, lightly away, into a gentle slumber. It is no surprise that in today’s hectic, multi-media world, where the senses are constantly being overloaded with information, there has been a steady rise in the number of people with sleep problems. This has led to a dramatic rise in the prescription of sleeping tablets and other sedatives.
How much sleep do we need?
Sleep requirements vary with age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between 7 and 9 hours.
Age Sleep requirement
Babies 0 -3 months 14-17 hours
Infants 4 – 11 months 12 – 15 hours
Toddlers 1 – 2 years 11 – 14 hours
Pre-school 3 – 5 years 10 – 13 hours
Children 6 – 13 years 9 – 11 hours
Teenagers 14 -1 7 years 8 – 10 hours
Adults 7 – 9 hours
Those 7 – 9 hours need not all be in one go. In fact, the single sleep session is a relatively new idea that only appeared when societies developed artificial lighting. Up until the mid-1700’s people used to have segmented sleeps. A first sleep was separated from a second sleep by active periods, which often included a meal and socialising. There is a school of thought that believes an adult’s 7 – 9 hours can be broken into several sleep segments, within a 24 hour period, and still be healthy.
What happens if a person suffers from sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation can be chronic or acute. Chronic sleep deprivation builds up to a large sleep deficit over a period of time. Acute sleep deprivation is a shorter period, involving a large loss of sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation has numerous effects on the mental and physical state of the body.
Symptoms and Effects of Sleep Deprivation:
⇒ Cognitive impairment
⇒ Lapses and loss of memory
⇒ Impaired moral judgement
⇒ ADHD symptoms
⇒ Reduced activity of immune system
⇒ Increased risk of Type II diabetes
⇒ Increased risk of heart disease
⇒ Decreased accuracy
⇒ Aches & pains
⇒ Risk of Obesity
⇒ Suppressed growth
⇒ Lower body temperatures.
The conventional medical response to sleep problems is prescriptions of hypnotics and sedatives, or combinations of the two. The most commonly prescribed are the benzodiazepines and Z drugs. Both carry high risks of dependence and side effects such as amnesia and hallucinations. The risk of depression and liver damage is also increased.
Hypnotherapy New Evidence.
Hypnotherapy has shown value as a treatment for insomnia for many years. Patient QI found peer reviewed papers on the subject, dating as far back as the early 1960’s. Here we report on two of the most recent studies. These studies confirm earlier findings, that hypnotherapy is indeed a beneficial treatment for insomnia, in particular in the elderly who are at greater risk of side effects and dependence on conventional drugs.
A reduction in the amount of slow wave sleep as human beings age is part of the ageing process, and it is usually accompanied by a loss of cognitive function. A recent study investigated whether hypnotic suggestion could lengthen the amount of slow wave sleep in healthy, elderly women. The volunteers were split into two groups. Both groups were monitored for slow wave activity, whilst listening to a tape before a midday nap. The therapy group listened to a tape with hypnotic suggestion and the control group listened to a tape without hypnotic suggestion. Results showed that the therapy group had a 57% increase in the amount of slow wave activity, and a clear improvement in cognitive functioning after the sleep, compared to the control group.
The same researchers had previously run a study in a sleep lab, using normal healthy women aged between 20 and 26 years of age. The women were split into two groups and monitored for short wave sleep. Half of the group listened to a tape with hypnotic suggestions to ‘sleep deeper’, and the other half listened to a control tape. The hypnotic suggestion group showed an increase of 81% in short wave sleep, and their time awake was reduced by 67%.
Hypnotherapy is clearly a beneficial therapy for sleep problems, and could reduce the need for pharmaceutical intervention.
Cordi et al. Improving sleep and cognition by hypnotic suggestion in the elderly. Neuropsychologia. Feb 2015.
Cordi et al. Deepening sleep by hypnotic suggestion. Sleep. Jun 2014.