Updated: May 8
Treating Insomnia with Hypnosis - a Case Study
In all case studies, identifying details may be slightly altered or omitted to protect client privacy.
Sleepless in Somatic-ville
You know that feeling when you just can’t sleep—the frustration, the jitters, the malaise?
Now imagine it goes on for over fifty years!
Doris, a 62 year old female, came to me recently at the request of her Health Care Provider. She was in a high level position with her company, but had been battling insomnia, sleep disruption and anxiety for as long as she could remember. Lately, it had become an issue in her job. Although her employer made accommodations because Doris was excellent at what she did, they began looking at other alternatives (like Hypnosis) in a final attempt to help her.
Over the years, Doris had been prescribed sleeping pills, strong (and very addictive) anti-anxiety medications and herbal sleep aids. She even went so far as to have surgeries in a desperate bid for relief. Nothing really helped. Although she could go to sleep, she would wake up every single day at two am, in fight or flight mode. From there, she would toss and turn and struggle for the rest of the night, oftentimes giving up and starting her day at three or four in the morning.
This went on for FIFTY FIVE YEARS!
As time went by, although she remained in fairly good health, the sleep deprivation began to have a confounding effect on her, making her irritable, impatient, foggy brained and sometimes difficult to work with. She knew it was an issue, tried to make adjustments, but felt helpless to change.
Root Causes of Insomnia
During our first session, we discussed the situation, medical interventions and what approach to take. Because it was such a long term problem, I suspected that the issue stemmed from something deep-seated in the past; i.e., the cause of the problem. Why couldn’t Doris sleep? What kept waking her up?
With some trepidation, Doris agreed to a hypnotic regression, a process in which the subconscious mind is taken back in time, and instructed to provide a clear picture of where and when the problem began. One never knows what will be found during a regression, and sometimes the results come as a complete surprise. Looking at the strong, confident woman in front of me, I wondered what purpose the sleep disruption served. Did it give her added attention that met an unrealized need? Did she have an eating disorder and the extra activity kept her weight off? Was it a way to spend extra time with a loved one? What had happened to young Doris that gave her the idea that waking up at 2am was a good idea?
Doris was a good subject and entered a hypnotic sleep easily and deeply, and I watched as her eyes moved under her closed eyelids while she explored her inner psyche and as her arms and hands grasped, opened and the closed knobs, doors and other objects in her mind.
Perfect. She was ready.
Taking her further and further back in time, I asked her subconscious mind to reveal the origin of the sleep problem. Where did this begin? What happened?
As the image became sharper in Doris’ mind, I watched her body tense and her fists clench.
“I can see you!” she declares, accusingly.
“I see your face... I know your name... I will never forget!”
Doris is back in time with her seven year old self. She is simultaneously watching and experiencing everything.
“What’s happening?” I ask.
“I was sleeping,” she answers. “I was just sleeping and then she was there. I woke up and she was there, moving on top of me. On my chest and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get away.”
Doris awakened from a deep sleep to sexual abuse at the hands of a female babysitter. She was young. She felt scared, vulnerable and alone.
So what did Doris’ psyche decide she needed to do?
Anxiety, Hyper-vigilance and Insomnia
She felt she needed to be vigilant, to be watchful. She needed to stay awake so she would be safe. And, in a way, it worked. She was never again startled from sleep to face a sexual predator. So, with that reinforcement, the cycle perpetuated and strengthened itself year after year after year after year after year after year.
I’d like to be able to say that we were able to overcome the fearful pattern in a single session, but saying so would be a lie. There was some work involved.
Doris’ inner child needed to know that she could relax and that she was safe—a realization that took time… but it happened. Doris began to sleep. The entire night! And if she awakened, she rolled over and immediately went back to dreamland!
In six sessions, over three months, together, we overcame a lifelong debilitating issue! For fifty five years, a frightened inner child had been tortured with horrible insomnia, but now…
Now, Doris is sleeping through the night.