"Because I couldn't fall asleep or because I couldn't stay asleep?" I asked.
"You couldn't fall asleep. I tried everything. Sometimes if I rocked you really hard or vacuumed, that would work," she said, in one long, suffering sigh.
In the years since, I've tried a veritable laundry list of methods to fall asleep, including but not limited to: melatonin, CBD, ASMR, listening to Michelle Branch's Hotel Paper, and dousing myself and my bed with essential oils. (The amount of lavender I have used is truly something.) These strategies have helped to an extent, but haven't yielded entirely satisfying results. But then I was introduced to hypnosis for sleep, and my luck turned around.
A small 2014 study from the University of Zurich, Switzerland of 70 women in their early twenties found that "young, healthy, suggestible females" (it me) who listened to audio hypnosis before sleeping had 80 percent more slow-wave sleep (the deepest level) than those who didn't, and spent 67 percent less time awake, trying to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation also lists auditory hypnosis as a helpful tool for falling asleep.
Sure, it's not a new finding, but since it's certainly new to me, I finally decided to try it one fateful night when none of my usual sleep-inducing plays were doing the trick. It was one of those situations of trying to relax, but since I'd been attempting it for so long, I was also overcome with stress about needing wake up to do things like be mentally present at my job. Of course, when trying to silence stress in order to relax and sleep doesn't yield any actual sleep, the stress heightens and a viscous cycle takes place. Basically, no quality sleep to look forward to.
At that point, I remembered the potential powers of hypnosis for sleep, and the fact that I had downloaded a hypnosis app for women called Clementine I hadn't yet tried. It features content for a number of categories, including sleep, body, de-stress, confidence, and mantras. I tapped "sleep" and found seven options from which to choose, eventually landing on one called "Relax Your Body."
Music began to play (there's also a no-music option) and then a woman with a soothing voice began to speak. The way she spoke—in terms of both content and tone—helped keep my mind from wandering, which is one of the main issues I struggle with when trying to fall asleep. I'm not sure exactly how long it took me to drift off after starting the hypnosis, but the session was only 24 minutes, and I don't remember hearing the end of it.
I woke up the next morning kind of shocked that I hadn't spent most of the night tossing and turning. And though I wouldn't go so far as to say I felt "refreshed," I did feel less like staring at my ceiling, contemplating all of my mistakes and the state of my life until the need for coffee forced me out of bed…which is how most mornings go, so I'll call the hypnosis for sleep a win.
Want to learn what happens during a session with a hypnotist? Find out in the video below:
I kept using it for the next few weeks, and found that I was falling asleep faster and plagued with fewer of the anxious thoughts that typically make drifting off so difficult for me. Upon reflection, I'll credit part of this victory to the hypnosis itself and part of it to routine—because I always sleep best when I have a set nighttime routine. Out of the seven sleep-hypnosis sessions the app offers, my favorites have been "Deep Sleep" and "Relax Your Body," and both have a runtime of about 24 minutes.
I knew I was growing attached to the hypnosis for sleep, but I didn't realize the extent to which the practice was working until my sister recently visited me and slept on an air mattress in my living room. The first couple of nights she was there, I was a bit embarrassed about my hypnosis-app habit (my apartment is small, so she could hear it). But only when I explained to her I had a tough time falling asleep without it did I fully appreciate how much it was helping. So the next night, I played it loud enough for us both to hear. The following morning, we didn't get into even one of our very characteristic arguments, despite having been around each other 24/7 for the past 72 hours. I guess I'll chalk it up to a fringe benefit of the sleep hypnosis.
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