Reducing Insomnia Severity
Additionally, there was an increase in sleep satisfaction and, during the course of the study, an improvement in falling asleep as well as sleeping through the night.
The Hypnosis Group also leads in terms of sleep quality
Test subjects in the Hypnosis Group also rated their quality of sleep higher than those in other groups. In comparison with the No Treatment Group, the rated sleep quality of the Hypnosis Group was 3.4% higher by the end of the intervention. When comparing the Hypnosis Group with the Placebo Group, the Hypnosis Group rated their sleep quality as 3.16% higher.
It is especially interesting to observe that HypnoBox users who subjectively reported not to feel any effects of the hypnosis treatment, overall had higher positive sleep scores (T= 2.245; p = 0.02) than the rest of the group. A significant improvement in these 11 participants’ sleep scores (by 0.796 points per night) could be observed. The positive effect of the HypnoBox app is present, even when it is not consciously perceived.
One reason for this curious result may be that the hypnosis treatment works on a subconscious level during sleep. However, it is difficult to test such a hypothesis. The result, though, is an indication this might be the case.
Deeper Sleep as a Result of the HypnoBox App!
There was a significant increase in the variable ‘deep sleep duration’ in the Hypnosis Group when compared with the No Treatment Group.
Deep sleep is vital for our sleep to be restorative. A longer duration of deep sleep has positive effects on our physical and mental health, whereas a lack of deep sleep can negatively affect those areas. At the same time, the Hypnosis Group did not experience a reduction in the REM phase duration, which is also integral to restorative sleep. Thus, the increase in deep sleep duration had no negative effects on other important sleep phases.
Furthermore, the sleep score (based on sleep duration, depth, regularity, time taken to fall sleep, disruptions and time taken to wake up) significantly improved in the Hypnosis Group during the 14 days of treatment, while it deteriorated in the No Treatment Group and stayed the same for the Placebo Group.
The study took place between May 2020 and December 2020 and examined the effectiveness of the HypnoBox app relating to sleeping problems in people with insomnia.
Test subjects were between the ages of 18 and 60 and were suffering from insomnia according to criteria of the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5). Requirements for taking part in the study were owning a smartphone, not taking any substances that may influence sleeping behaviour and not suffering from mental disorders that may disrupt sleep
An additional requirement was to have a neutral to interested attitude towards hypnosis, in order to secure the integrity and objectivity of the study.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- The Hypnosis Group – was instructed to listen to the ‘Sleep Session’ of the HypnoBox app while trying to fall asleep. During the night, they recorded their sleep data using a sleep sensor (‘Withings Sleep Analyzer’).
- The Placebo Group – was instructed to listen to recordings of stories while trying to fall asleep and to record their sleep data using the ‘Withings Sleep Analyzer’.
- The No Treatment Group (control group) – only recorded their sleep data using the ‘Withings Sleep Analyzer’.
Test subjects were given a questionnaire on three occasions over the course of the study, where they had to provide information about their well-being and sleeping behaviour.
The results of the study showed a significant effect provided by the hypnosis intervention. Using the HypnoBox app helped to improve the participants’ sleep and everyday well-being. These positive improvements in the Hypnosis Group lasted even after a period of four weeks, when a follow-up measurement was conducted.
Furthermore, the rating of the ISI Scale had significantly improved at the third measurement point (T2). The app users reported an improvement in their difficulties falling asleep, sleeping through the night and waking up early in the morning. They also reported increased satisfaction with their current sleep and fewer problems with daily functioning, as well as stress and worries concerning their sleep disorder.
Technical data also showed an improvement in sleep in the Hypnosis Group. Analysis demonstrated an overall higher proportion of the deep sleep phase in test subjects undergoing the hypnosis intervention. Moreover, the sleep score significantly improved in the Hypnosis Group.
In the Placebo Group, sleep only partially improved and any improvements were not shown to last when measuring sleeping behaviour after four weeks.
The measured variables in the No Treatment Group (control group) remained the same over the course of the study. No significant changes were observed on any of the scales measuring sleeping behaviour.
The study has two main limitations.
Firstly, the questionnaire that was used was a combination of three validated questionnaires investigating sleeping behaviour and its consequences. This would have made the questionnaire too long for participants to reasonably fill out, so that some items from the original questionnaires had to be left out.
Secondly, the Sleep Analyzer showed some inaccuracies in its measurement, so that faulty values had to be replaced by averages in order to secure integrity of the data.
The present study shows that hypnosis can be used in the treatment of sleep disorders. The greatest effects were observed regarding everyday well-being and level of fatigue.