I was pretty desperate.
After years of what can be called nothing short of the worst bloody sleep ever, I decided to try hypnotherapy and despite entering the appointment with hesitation, I can say without any that it worked for me.
For years, my mind has been extremely active, especially when darkness blankets the sky and everyone else in the world seems to be visiting the land of sleep apart from me (this may be a slight exaggeration). My brain will think of anything that can be thought of, even the sheep you are supposed to count become sheep with personalities, names and adventures out in the paddock. This active mind is handy at times, just not when you need to recharge it along with your body to face a new day.
The worst of my sleep deprivation occurred when my two daughters were newborns. Both weren’t great sleepers (maybe it runs in the family) and the motherly duties of breastfeeding (which I loved) and of tending to upset babies throughout the night (which I didn’t love) meant frequent trips in and out of bed. This combined with a mind that refused to switch off, despite exhaustion in between these frequent trips meant an extremely fatigued and unhappy person.
As my daughter’s grew and the trips throughout the night reduced, my sleep improved naturally. But it was still never anything to brag about and as soon as any stress in life reared its head, sleep deprivation would return in full force. Over the years I have attempted to combat my ongoing issue by trying almost anything to get me to the destination I desperately wanted to reach, sleep.
Although all legal, some are not ideal, especially in combination with others. Some had other side effects while I was on them or when I decided I should stop using them. My desperate attempts ranged from mindfulness - on apps, from books, in my mind, from aromatherapy and essential oils, baths, reading, writing my thoughts down before bed, not using screens, sleep psychologists, sleep testing, sleep hygiene, melatonin oral spray, melatonin tablets, antihistamines, prescription medication (it’s OK it was my own), sleeping tablets, sleeping apps and my old favourite, a couple of glasses of wine.
It was during a random conversation with my ‘jaw doctor’ at an appointment that the suggestion of hypnotherapy became something I seriously considered. He told me about a local hypnotherapist who had worked wonders with other clients for smoking addiction and also his own daughter for exam stress. I took his name, searched his phone number and made an appointment.
The hypnotherapist didn’t look like I imagined, he was in his late 70s, wore shorts, a polo shirt with a vest and runners; he looked like he had come back for the session after a spot of tennis. But he welcomed me in and made me feel at ease straight away.
After the initial discussion about why I was here, the ‘therapy’ began. And from the moment he told me to close my eyes with his rhythmic and even monotonous voice and clicked his fingers, I could feel the hypnotherapy working. The main component of hypnotherapy is direct suggestion while you are in a heightened state of suggestibility and just as he had suggested, I could not open my eyelids - they were “heavy” just as he said. I was aware of everything that happened but could not open my eyes or lift my limbs. The sensation was strange and powerful.
Once the session was complete he asked me how long I thought I had been ‘under’, I said “about 10 minutes”. He replied “it was half an hour”. I looked at my watch and he was correct. My essence of time had gone.
I went home in a bit of a daze with a CD in hand to listen to before sleep. That night I put it on and fell asleep within about five minutes. My husband said he put his ear to my mouth to make sure I was breathing - the sleep was so heavy, so unusual for me. I woke in the morning after a night of uninterrupted sleep, it was amazing!
I had one more session a fortnight after. And that was it. He said I could return if I needed a bit more assistance later on, like a ‘top up’ I guess you could say. Three months in and I haven’t required it. There are still some nights where sleep is a bit harder to reach but generally speaking the hypnotherapy has had an incredible transformation on my sleep ability and really, my life.
Hypnotism is not everyone’s cup of tea and it doesn’t work for everyone either but I can vouch that stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something ‘alternative’ can have its benefits, for me, sleep.
This article is one woman's experience and should not be substituted for professional medical advise. Please always consult your GP or health professional if you're having issues sleeping.
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