Hypnosis could replace medication in promoting better sleep: study
A new study will look at how sleep affects memory, problem solving, and other cognitive functions (Lars Zahner / shutterstock.com)
Published Wednesday, June 4, 2014 3:47PM EDT
Insomniacs and light sleepers alike might benefit from hypnosis to coax them into a deep sleep, suggests a new study published in the journal Sleep.
Researchers from the University of Zurich and Fribourg concluded that hypnosis can increase the quality of sleep, eliminating the need for medications the effects of which have long been questioned by the medical community.
"It opens up new, promising opportunities for improving the quality of sleep without drugs," says biopsychologist Björn Rasch, who headed the study at the Psychological Institute of the University of Zurich in conjunction with the Sleep and Learning project.
The study limited its participants to women, due to their increased susceptibility to hypnosis on average. A total of 70 healthy young women were divided into groups according to their susceptibility to hypnosis and invited to the sleep laboratory for a 90-minute midday nap.
The test group listened to 13 minutes of pre-recorded hypnosis before sleeping, and the control group listened to neutral dialogue over loudspeakers.
The most hypnotizable participants experienced an 80 percent increase in slow wave sleep.
"The results may be of major importance for patients with sleep problems and for older adults," says psychologist and study leader Maren Cordi. "In contrast to many sleep-inducing drugs, hypnosis has no adverse side effects."
The findings indicate that even healthy individuals with a delayed circadian preference could further increase their health by taking steps to get to sleep earlier.
Deep sleep is referred to in the scientific community as slow wave sleep (SWS) and is measured by the actual speed of the brainwaves.
It is understood to be the most restorative of the sleep phases, for during SWS growth hormones are secreted, promoting cell repair and stimulating the body's immune system.