October 29

Why Do Hypnotherapists Need to Get Serious About Sleep?

Sleep & Dreams


Sleep research is showing that persistent depression, anxiety, and PTSD may be signs of an underlying sleep disorder.  Sleep deprivation makes any problem worse.  So hypnotherapists need to take sleep issues seriously.

According to sleep expert, Dr. Rubin Naiman, there are over 60 million insomniacs out there. Think about that.  That’s 60 million people who have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep!

Sleep deprivation is a big problem.

It impairs memory, concentration, and attention span.  It drains your energy.  And it worsens any underlying health problem.

Whether you realize it or not, many of your clients are suffering from sleep deprivation.  And that just makes any problem worse. Research is showing that and underlying sleep disorder may be at the root of persistent conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.

The biggest issue for most people is poor quality sleep. They may think it’s about the quantity of sleep they’re getting.  But it’s really their quality of sleep that’s the problem.  So if you have a client who:

  • doesn’t sleep well at night …
  • isn’t sleeping well night after night ….
  • is not waking up feeling refreshed and rested …
  • doesn’t have the energy they need to get through the day …

Realize they’re not getting enough sleep and work on improving the quality of their sleep. If you improve the quality of their sleep the problem of quantity will usually take care of itself.  The body will come back into balance once you take care of the sleep problem.

Sleep problems can be caused by many things.  

Unresolved emotions can cause sleep loss.  Sleep problems can be caused by physical problems. Medications can disrupt sleep patterns.  Breathing issues like sleep apnea can cause sleep disorders.  And unresolved emotions can contribute to sleep problems. The most common problem is anxiety.

The most common problem for poor sleepers is an inability to turn the mind off.  So instead of slowing down and nodding off at the end of the day their mind keeps spinning. This is an emotional problem.  The problem is a lack of emotional closure at the end of the day.  And that keeps the mind spinning.  

This is important.  If you have a client who is really chatty . . .  or their mind seems to be all over the place . . .  or they’re spinny . . . they may have a sleep issue. The common profile for a troubled sleeper is either they are out of touch with their emotions or they don’t know how to manage their emotions during the day. 

People who don’t know how to regulate their emotions, or who are out of touch with their emotions during the day, often find themselves haunted by their emotions at bedtime. All the unresolved feelings and unmet needs of the day (and yesterday) are struggling for recognition.  And the most common emotion they wrestle with at bedtime is anxiety.

According to sleep expert, Dr. Rubin Naiman, “What WAKES us up is not what KEEPS us awake.  Going to WAR is the problem.”

It’s natural to wake up during the night.  Everybody does.  It’s when you wake up and cannot get back to sleep that you have a sleep problem.  It can become a self-sabotaging pattern. For example:

  • obsessing over the time
  • clock watching
  • time monitoring
  • counting the number of hours slept

If your client is obsessing over the time, guess where they’re hanging out?  In thinking.  They’re actually keeping themselves awake.  Weird, huh?

When sleep doesn’t come, self-sabotaging behaviors can develop.   This only compounds the problem by keeping the mind active. When the pattern becomes habitual the person begins to accrue a sleep deficit, which contributes to depression, weight gain, foggy thinking, and a multitude of health issues.  And, oh yah, anxiety.

Sleep deprivation contributes to every problem you work with.

Many of your clients are going to have sleep issues and not even realize it. Sleep affects energy, cognition, and emotional state.   It can contribute to or even cause weight problems. Lack of sleep inhibits the body’s ability to heal.  It makes pain worse.  And it’s the leading cause of accidents – both on the highways and in the workplace.

Many sleep disturbances have their roots in unresolved emotions.  So if you’re a hypnotherapist, you need to get serious about sleep. Many of the people you are already working with are seriously sleep deprived.  And helping improve the quality of their sleep can make a profound difference in how they feel.  And it will improve the results you’re getting.

Ready for Regression

Whether the client’s presenting issue is pain or depression, or some unwanted behavior that’s driven by anxiety, resolving their sleep issues can pave the way to healing.  Once you have taken care of the underlying sleep issue the client will get a new lease on life.   And give you a client who is more hopeful and, therefore, more ready to do the regression work.

Many of your clients are going to be sleep-deprived and not even realize it.  If you address sleep as routine part of your approach to healing hypnosis you’ll get better overall results.  And when you get a client who comes to you for help sleeping you’ll know what to look for.

Include sleep as part of your intake process.

Sleep problems can be caused by breathing issues like sleep apnea.  It’s best to rule out any physical causes first.

The biggest issue for most people is poor quality sleep.  So, during the intake ask your client about both the quantity and the quality of sleep they’re getting.

  • How much sleep do they get, on average, each night?
  • Do they sleep well every night?
  • Do they wake feeling refreshed and rested?
  • What’s their energy like throughout the day?

Sleep medicine expert, Dr. Barry Krakow, says that the clients who come to you for help with insomnia need to understand what the over-riding problem actually is.  So if your client isn’t getting quality sleep, educate them about the value of sleep.

The over-riding problem is that the brain is moving too fast to sleep. The reason it’s so busy is because they don’t want to go to sleep.   They’re not ready to go to sleep because their day is not done yet.   They’re actually preventing sleep from coming.

If they’re obsessing over time that can lead to frustration because they can’t get to sleep.  And that can lead to anger because they’re not getting enough sleep. Anger just generates more fear because they start to worry that they’ll never get enough sleep.  Then they can start obsessing over physical sensations.

Frustration and fear and anger generate tension in the body.  All of which is keeping them awake.  So, the mind gets stuck on the hamster wheel.  Spinning.

Your primary goal should be to get them off the hamster wheel.

Regardless of the client’s issue.  Everyone can benefit from improved sleep.  And helping your client improve the quality of their sleep will give you a better client to work with. So during the emerging process throw in some suggestions for:

  • Deep and restful sleep
  • Waking feeling refreshed and rejuvenated
  • Having plenty of energy throughout the day

You can’t make a person sleep any more than you can make them relax.  All you can do is guide them through a process to release the underlying contributing factors.  Make the client responsible for the results.

Sleep issues often have unresolved emotions at their root.   You can help with that.  But there is much the client can do right now to put themselves back in charge of their sleep routine.  A good place to start is stopping the war.

Stop trying to get to sleep.

Stop the clock watching.

Stop the obsessing over time.

You need an agreement from the client.

They must be willing take action because you can’t change their sleep habits.   Help the client understand that they have learned to associate not sleeping with the bed.  They have anchored being awake with being in bed.  That’s a problem. Lying in bed trying to sleep is only making things worse. 

Bed is not for mental activities like thinking and worrying and planning.  Bed is for sleep. Subconsciously, obsessing and worrying just makes bed an unsafe place to be.  Which generates anxiety.   If they can’t sleep – the first step is to stop trying.  Instead, get out of bed.  Get up and do something.  Preferably something relaxing and pleasurable.

The goal is to s-l-o-w . . . d-o-w-n.

Help the brain unwind at the end of the day.  And prepare for sleep.  As soon as they start to feel sleepy it’s time to go to bed.  What do they find pleasurable (that’s legal and non-fattening)? 


  • Read a book
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Play solitaire or a computer game
  • Write in a journal
  • Work on a jigsaw puzzle

The client must re-learn the association between bed and sleep. This is important.  They are NOT to fall asleep on the sofa or in the chair or anywhere else except bed.  That just anchors sleep to some place other than bed.

Like any acquired habit you can help to make it easier for the client to overcome the habit.  But you can’t do it for them. The client must be ready, willing and able to take action to make those changes permanent.

It’s like weight loss. If a person wants to lose weight they must be willing to take action.  YOU can’t do it for them. Fortunately, even the smallest improvement can be used as evidence that change is possible.   This will increase client motivation.  

So, that's it.  Get serious about sleep because, once you have taken care of the underlying sleep issue, the client will get a new lease on life.   And this will give you a client who is more hopeful and, therefore,  more ready to do the regression work.

One last thing . . .

It’s also important that you take care of your sleep hygiene as well. You need to be showing up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for your clients. You need to on your game.  And thinking sharp.  And feeling clear.  And have lots of energy to get yourself through the day.  Think about how giving attention to sleep can help get you better results.

About the author 

Wendie Webber

With over thirty years of experience as a healing practitioner, Wendie brings a broad range of skills to her approach to regression to cause hypnosis. She combines a gentle, yet commanding way of presenting with a thorough, clear and systematic approach to helping healing practitioners to make sense of regression hypnotherapy.