Updated: Jan 1
If you’ve ever said, “My hypnosis client keeps falling asleep. What should I do?” you are in the right place. We will provide some tips to help ensure that your client doesn’t fall asleep in hypnosis and show you how to use a client’s sleeping to help them reach their goals in hypnosis.
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Tip #1: Set Your Client’s Expectations
Have the client do a question-and-answer with you (ideally, conduct a proper intake assessment) before you do any type of hypnosis, letting them know that hypnosis is not sleeping. It’s not like any type of sleep that you would do at night. It is where they get to a relaxed place mentally, but still, they are able to move around if they need to. Telling the client how to show up for best results helps immensely towards reaching their goals using hypnosis.
Tip #2: Keep the A/C Cool
Too much warmth and coziness lead to falling asleep. If you turn up the air-conditioning, your clients will be far less likely to fall asleep. So don’t keep it too warm in the room.
Tip #3: Don’t Keep It Too Dark
If it’s too dark, your clients are just going to fall asleep. They’re not going to do the work you want them to do necessarily. Hypnosis is active participation between the hypnotist and client. Soft ambient lighting is good, but not too dark.
Tip #4: Say Their Name
If you notice that your client is sometimes falling asleep, you can say their name and bring them back up into more conscious awareness. You can be in a very deep type of trance without technically being in a sleep state.
Tip #5: Sit Them Up Comfortably
Have the client sit upright in a chair or in a slightly reclined chair instead of lying down. Don’t put clients completely horizontal if you find that they fall asleep. If you’re using a massage table, you can prop your client’s head up with pillows, which can be a nice approach. But if clients are routinely falling asleep, put them in a sit-up chair or reclining chair.
Tip #6: Ask Clients Questions While in Hypnosis
This keeps them somewhat aware. You can do some different types of inductions and deepeners so that their mind stays more active. Giving your client a mental activity to do, such as writing their name in the sand at the beach or writing things they want to focus on while providing suggestions, helps keep them awake, aware and active. I like to do an activity where the client cleans up a room or cleans up their garden so that their mind is focused on doing something instead of just passing out.
Sleep vs. Awake
You can tell the difference between somebody falling asleep versus someone in a light trance, and that difference is snoring and the breathing getting way too deep. If eye movements are rapid and consistent, or if the client isn’t answering your questions, that is also an indication of sleep, and thus, they’re not in a productive state for hypnosis. So we want to keep them in a nice productive state so that their brain is more active because you can still be in a trance state walking around and talking, driving cars, etc. and be in hypnosis. So keep them aware, and at the same time, help them to stay in that relaxed place where are your suggestions are getting in.
If you’ve conducted a proper intake assessment, you know what type of learner your client is, which will be predominantly visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. You can capitalize on that for the type of activity or analytical vehicle you give them during hypnosis.
When Sleeping in Hypnosis is Okay
You want your clients in a hypnagogic state, which is the state just between awake and asleep. We’ve already talked about how to tell the difference. It’s okay if your client goes into deeper levels to where they seem very relaxed, not paying attention to anything you’re saying, and you know that they’re not. You may know that they’re getting ready to fall over into that sleep time. And there are times where I have just let people sleep because they needed it, like the nurses who never fully let themselves relax (at least the ones I have worked with).
Giving them just five minutes where you allow them to fall right over into deep sleep can feel very rejuvenating for them. So if you’ve given the suggestions you’ve needed to give, and everything is going well, and you feel like they’ve gotten what they needed to get from their time with you, then let them have five or ten minutes of pure sleep. It’s totally okay for that to happen.
It’s because they have a sleep deficit that they haven’t been able to pay back, and so this will help them rejuvenate all their physical systems. It will help heal those physical symptoms and psychological issues that might come up because of a lack of rest and sleep. So it’s okay for the body to rejuvenate in that way. The kidneys are releasing. The liver is replenishing itself. They might start to dream (which they don’t normally do), which is good for clearing out the mental burden caused by their repressed feelings, memories, and experience. So if you do let them rest, give them five or ten minutes to sleep, and then call them back and wake them back up. It’s okay if they fall asleep.
How to Use Sleep to Benefit the Client
It’s not ideal if they immediately fall asleep as soon as they lay down. That is not going to get them where you want them to go. Instead, you want to get some good information in there via suggestions. Then if they do fall over into sleep, they’re going to process the suggestions even deeper into the subconscious mind. So you can even set that up for them ahead of time while they are in the hypnagogic state where they are between awake and asleep, and you can even say to them, “If you do fall over into sleep, if you do completely go to that restful place, you will integrate all of the information that I’ve given you easily and effortlessly, and even more fully than ever before, and you will act on those positive suggestions that feel the best to you.”
So instead of making it into a problem and saying, “No, don’t do that, it’s bad, wake up,” you avoid making it a problem by creating a suggestion ahead of time and utilizing it as an opportunity for your client to integrate everything you’ve said to them fully.