One of the superpowers you get to have as a hypnotist is the ability to hypnotize people to sleep. With insomnia being as common as it is these days, this is a very useful skill to have.
So how do you hypnotize someone to sleep? Humans are predisposed to sleep when we’re tired, so all you need to do is help your subject to clear their thoughts, then send them down a hypnotic pathway designed to induce sleep. In this article, we’ll go over the important things to consider when helping someone to sleep, how to do it, and how to help them structure their days to aid sleep.
When should you hypnotize someone to sleep?
The very first thing to consider with any sleep-related hypnosis is whether there could be some medical condition inhibiting their sleep.
As a rule, it’s a bad idea to use hypnosis to mask any medical symptoms without first having a doctor say it’s ok to do so.
In short: If the reason they can’t sleep is that something has gone physically wrong with their body, while hypnosis might send them to sleep, it may also mask symptoms. This in turn can lead to them not seeking medical help when they need it.
Many life-threatening conditions are easily treated if they are caught early enough, so seeking medical advice is important whenever we experience health anomalies.
Now the truth is that people have trouble sleeping all the time for no reason other than they can’t stop thinking, or something similar.
Usually when someone wants to be hypnotized to sleep, they are a friend in a different timezone. Customers tend to want to have something done to help overcome their insomnia rather than just be sent to sleep.
So what I usually do if someone wants me to hypnotize them to sleep is casually mention that if they continue to have trouble sleeping, they really should see a doctor to make sure there’s not something else going on. Because they’re a friend, I’m probably going to be talking to them in the near future anyway so I can check up on them to see how it went.
If things are medically ok, the next question to ask is whether it is socially acceptable for you to be around that person when they’re sleeping. This will depend on where you are in the world and the nature of your relationship with them.
In practical terms, they’re probably not going to ask unless they’re already comfortable with it.
How does insomnia work?
Assuming there’s no underlying medical condition, it’s generally very safe to hypnotize someone to sleep.
In order to do that, we need to have some basic understandings of what causes insomnia in the first place.
There are four classes of things that can cause insomnia: Medical conditions, poor sleeping environment, bad habits during the day, and uncontrolled thoughts when we want to sleep.
In this article I’ll leave medical conditions to one side, because I’m not a doctor. All I can suggest around those is that if your subject has a medical condition causing their insomnia, don’t use hypnosis to help them sleep unless a doctor says it’s ok first.
Poor sleeping environment
If someone has a poor sleeping environment, it can lead to difficulties with sleeping. This can include things like background sounds, lighting, and uncomfortable beds.
Before hypnotizing someone to sleep, ask them if there is anything keeping them awake, such as noises or discomfort. This information allows us to incorporate suitable suggestions into their hypnosis session to help overcome their environment.
Bad habits that can make it difficult to sleep
Quite often we have habits during the day that can make it difficult for us to sleep. Examples include consuming caffeine, taking naps during the day, using devices in bed, and living an unhealthy lifestyle.
Most people aren’t aware that these things can cause poor sleep.
From our perspective as a hypnotist who wants to send someone to sleep, the one we want to focus on is doing things in bed other than sleeping. Electronic gadgets have a particularly profound effect since the blue light can trick our brains into thinking it’s still daytime.
Modern devices usually have a blue light filter that can help when turned on. The issue with this is that blue light is only one thing that keeps people awake.
When we use devices in bed, it attaches every use of that device to our bed.
Naturally, this can lead to difficulty sleeping. If you’d like to know how it works, I’ve written about it more in my article How to Fall Asleep Even If You Can’t Stop Thinking.
Uncontrolled thoughts keeping us awake
A common thing that keeps people awake at night is having uncontrolled thoughts.
We want to sleep, but can’t stop thinking. Sometimes it’s worries about the day or the future, other times it’s because we’ve had an idea. In both cases, the solution is the same.
Conveniently, both can be easily helped with hypnosis.
Congruence is important when you’re hypnotizing someone to sleep
With all hypnosis, it’s important to be congruent. This means that we do stuff that supports whatever it is that we’re trying to achieve.
Before you begin the session, check their environment for things that might be inhibiting sleep. For stuff they can do something about, have them fix the problem. For other things, make a note so that you can incorporate it into the hypnosis itself.
If you’ve got them on a call of some kind, make sure that neither they nor their device will come to any harm when they do fall asleep.
When we’re hypnotizing someone to sleep, we want to make sure that our hypnotic manner fits in with the overall concept of sleep.
How do we do that?
It starts with our voice: Generally speaking, we want to keep our voice quiet, soft and deep.
Next, we want to do our best to only engage low energy states. As a rule, we generally don’t want our subject hyperactive and excited when we’re trying to send them to sleep.
And finally, as with all hypnosis, we want to minimize the amount of effort our subject has to apply. This means we give them clear instructions and don’t make them think too much.
What are the steps to hypnotize someone to sleep?
As with most hypnosis, the scope here is vast. So it’s important to have an appreciation of the basic steps to go through in order to help someone to fall asleep.
Step 1: Have them optimize their sleeping environment as best they can
This typically includes such things as minimizing background noise, blocking out light, and so on. We’ve all slept lots, so all of us know what kinds of things to do here. If there’s anything that looks like it might be keeping them awake, see if they can fix it before you begin.
Step 2: Clear their thoughts
One of the biggest things that keeps people awake is being unable to stop thinking. So once we’ve got them ready to start, we want to clear out any unwanted thoughts. The induction will do most of this for us.
Before you start, suggest that they’ll be able to sort out whatever is on their mind in their dreams.
Step 3: Induce hypnosis
When inducing hypnosis with the intention of hypnotizing someone to sleep, it’s important to choose an induction that supports sleep. We’ll come to this in a little while.
Step 4: Deepen hypnosis
The further we can move someone into hypnosis, the more easily most people can drift off to sleep. So spend a bit of time deepening their hypnotic state.
Step 5: Give them helpful suggestions
Once you’ve got them into a nice, deep hypnotic trance, give them suggestions along the lines of there’s nothing they have to do, they can allow the worries of the day to drift away, and so on.
If they have been particularly disturbed by their thoughts, it’s often helpful to ask them what color those thoughts are, then tell them to allow that color to transform to the color it wants to be. This usually takes less than 3 minutes.
Step 6: Tell them that they can allow themselves to sleep now
Gently segue from the suggestions into telling them that they can allow themselves to sleep. Continue to layer in more suggestions that support the idea that they can sleep.
Step 7: Tell them how long they will sleep and how they will wake up
Tell them that they’re going to sleep for exactly the right amount of time.
Tell them that when they wake up in the morning after sleeping for exactly the right amount of time, they’ll feel fully refreshed, having had the best night’s sleep ever.
Step 8: Cycle through steps 4 to 7 until they fall asleep
And then keep on repeating until they fall asleep. You have to use your judgment at this step. Some people will happily fall asleep during the session, while others will need you to stop talking and go away.
Most people can tell what to do by looking at the person who wants to sleep.
What hypnotic induction is best to hypnotize someone to sleep?
When we want to hypnotize someone to sleep, it’s important to choose a hypnotic induction that supports sleep.
My favorite options here are some kind of non-awareness induction, or a guided visualization leading them on a journey.
Often I’ll use both, since I build non-awareness into everything I do.
A progressive relaxation induction can also work brilliantly.
Whichever induction you use, run it like you normally would, then stop before the part where you bring them back out of hypnosis and instead tell them they can allow themselves to drift off to sleep.
Pay particular attention to telling them that their eyes are becoming heavy at the appropriate part of the induction.
If you’d like a script you can read to your subject, you might enjoy my Guided Visualization Hypnotic Induction Scripts and my Progressive Relaxation Hypnotic Induction Script.
And if you’d like to know how to perform a non-awareness induction, I cover that in my article How to Hypnotize Someone Secretly.
Once you’ve got them into hypnosis, any standard deepener will work.
If in doubt, tell them there’s a staircase down in front of them, describe their multi-sensory experience of the steps, and then count them down. When they reach the bottom of the staircase, tell them they find themselves in a room and have them look around for somewhere to sleep. Then have them move to that place to sleep and lie down.
The key with all of this is to make it as fluid and as easy for them to follow as possible.
What kinds of suggestions are useful when you’re hypnotizing someone to sleep?
After you’ve deepened the hypnosis, it’s time to make some suggestions.
It’s critical that you clear out any thoughts they may have that have been preventing them from sleeping.
There are three components here, and you’ll have to use your judgment about how much to apply each.
Transform your hypnosis subject’s thoughts to help them sleep more easily
It’s often helpful to allow your subject’s unconscious mind to transform unwanted thoughts.
The easy way to do this is by asking them about the physical properties of those thoughts, such as color, size, shape, spin, distance, and so on. As we do that, we have them allow each physical property to transform to whatever it wants to be.
For example, we might ask them to scan through their body looking for anything associated with those thoughts, noticing where the physical manifestations of those thoughts are located throughout their body. Then ask them about the boundaries, whether they’re hard, soft, fuzzy, and so on. Finally, have them watch as those boundaries transform into what they’d like to be.
As a rule, you want to manipulate things that are one or two layers out from the thoughts themselves. Most people have no idea that the feedback system will also modify their thought patterns, so they tend to be unable to resist.
Give your hypnosis subject something else to think about
Human minds can only consciously track about 7 things at once. And short-term memory only lasts for about 30 seconds. This means that if we can stack enough other things for our subject to think about, they won’t have enough capacity left over to maintain the thoughts that have been keeping them awake.
This is where guided visualizations and journeys are useful. We can include so many details that by the time our subject is in hypnosis, that’s all they can think about.
If you’d like to know more about this, you might enjoy my article on How Human Memory Works With Hypnosis.
Send your hypnosis subject to a void
Naturally, this being hypnosis, we can also tell our subject to go to a place where they have no thoughts. This is a technique from Ericksonian hypnosis.
You can achieve this by saying something like:
And you can allow yourself to drift into a wonderful, comfortable place where there’s nothing to do… nothing to see… nothing to feel… nothing to hear… but the sound of my voice carrying you all the way into deep hypnosis.
As with the rest of hypnosis, riff around the basic concept and repeat until they are there.
Other suggestions for hypnotizing someone to sleep
As a rule, anything you can suggest that will aid the sleep process is helpful here.
Early on in the session, you can suggest that they’ll be able to resolve anything that they’ve been thinking about in their dreams. Making this suggestion will fire up those unwanted thought patterns a bit, so only do this before clearing out those thoughts.
When there are environmental conditions that have been keeping them awake, suggest that those conditions will fall away and they won’t be bothered by them. If they’re uncomfortable, layer in things to make them feel more comfortable. If they’re too hot, have them imagine feeling cool.
Whatever is keeping them awake, suggest that it won’t bother them.
You can also suggest new behaviors if there are things they do throughout the day that keep them awake. For example, when someone drinks caffeine all day, it can be difficult to sleep. So suggest that after lunchtime they’ll prefer water.
When changing someone’s behaviors like this, make sure you discuss it with them beforehand so that they’re happy with the outcome.
Naturally, if there are things you know they have on tomorrow, it can be helpful to suggest that they’ll be able to easily do whatever it is. This one is particularly useful for exams. In the case of an exam, you can also suggest that they’ll be able to revise their notes in their dreams.
As with the unwanted thoughts, only do this early in the session to avoid keeping them awake.
Whatever suggestions you make, keep them positive, and avoid anything that might cause a heightened emotional state.
Weave suggestions that they will sleep throughout the entire process.
How to Instantly Hypnotize Someone to Sleep
When I use a non-awareness induction, I find that I can guide most people from wide awake to asleep in about 5 minutes or so.
And I also recall that when I was starting out as a hypnotist, it would take a lot longer to do everything.
Wouldn’t it be handy if there was a way that we could hypnotize someone instantly to send them to sleep?
As luck would have it, there is!
Using a hypnotic process known as anchoring, we can build a series of anchors that allow us to take our subject from wide awake and alert to drifting off to sleep in the space of seconds.
To do this, we want to anchor the state of deep hypnosis, and also the state of drifting off to sleep.
An anchor is something our subject can experience that reminds their unconscious mind to do something.
When we’re hypnotizing someone to sleep, we usually want the anchor to be a spoken word or phrase. If it’s not, they’re unlikely to be able to experience it with their eyes closed. We generally can’t use touch for this because it might accidentally trigger hypnosis at inopportune times.
There are lots of ways to create anchors.
In fact, everything we do creates anchors in one way or another.
Anchor your subject going into deep hypnosis
To create a simple anchor to send someone into deep hypnosis, say something like this when your subject is already in deep hypnosis:
From now on, every time you hear me say the phrase Go Into Hypnosis Now, you’ll fall into a wonderful, deep hypnotic trance, at least twice as deep as this one you’re in right now. The phrase Go Into Hypnosis Now will automatically cause you to return to this state, twice as deep, twice as comfortable, twice as relaxed as ever before.
And so on.
Basically you want to riff around the idea that them hearing you say the phrase Go Into Hypnosis Now will cause them to go into hypnosis.
Repeat at least three times to make sure they’ve got it, then bring them out of hypnosis to test.
If it’s working properly, they should instantly drop back into hypnosis when you say Go Into Hypnosis Now. Usually it’s a good idea to repeat the anchor phrase at least three times when you want to trigger it in case they weren’t listening properly.
If you’re wondering, these are also known as hypnotic triggers.
Once you’ve got that anchor working, you can use it to send them into hypnosis in future.
Anchor your subject falling asleep
Next, we want to anchor the act of drifting off to sleep. This one is a bit trickier because once they fall asleep, they won’t be able to hear or process information as well as when they’re conscious.
They will still process any suggestions you might make even when they’re asleep, so all you really have to do is keep on talking. Just be aware that it may require more iterations. And yes, this means that you can hypnotize them in their sleep.
As with the anchor for sending them to deep hypnosis, hypnotize your subject and send them to sleep.
Then, as they’re drifting off to sleep, use the same basic pattern to install an anchor to send them to sleep:
From now on, every time you hear me say the phrase Go To Sleep Now and it’s safe and appropriate to do so, you’ll find that your eyes immediately become heavy, your thoughts slow right down and you drift off into a wonderful, blissful sleep. Every time you fall asleep like this, you’ll sleep for exactly the right amount of time, waking up fully refreshed in the morning. The phrase Go To Sleep Now will always send you directly to sleep when you hear me say it and it’s safe for you to fall asleep now.
And so on.
Riff around it a few times.
Then, when they wake up in the morning, test both anchors.
First, drop them into deep hypnosis with the Go Into Hypnosis Now anchor, then send them to sleep with the Go To Sleep Now anchor.
Wake them up within 5 minutes to avoid disrupting their sleep patterns, and test a couple more times to make sure everything is working.
You may have to build the sleep anchor over several nights to get it to the point where it works reliably.
Anchoring in depth
So that’s the simple way to set up anchors.
Anchoring itself is a vast topic based in the core operation of our brains themselves, and it’s a crucial skill for any hypnotist to master.
Once you get good at anchoring, you’ll discover that everything out in the world is an anchor, and you’ll learn how to tweak your subjects’ responses to these anchors.
This makes it easy to get impressive results in lightning time.
Now because anchoring is such a big topic, I’ve written a book about it.
My book Artful Hypnotic Anchoring was specifically designed to take someone from not even knowing what an anchor is, to being able to create and use anchors of all kinds on demand.
And because I hate fluff, I’ve made it as short as possible with the intention that you can get results fast.
If you want to be able to hypnotize someone to sleep instantly, by far the easiest way to do that is with anchors.
And anchors have lots of uses beyond that, including improving your memory, guiding people’s thinking without them knowing, getting people to agree with you, and more.
Inside Artful Hypnotic Anchoring I also go over things it’s important to appreciate about anchoring including what anchors really are, how to create them, and how to prevent them from degrading over time.
If that sounds like something you’d like to know about, go check out Artful Hypnotic Anchoring right now!