The use of hypnosis to treat both somatic and psychological conditions is being more and more acknowledged thanks to the consolidation of the results obtained through research. But hypnosis is not just a useful instrument for suffering patients: self-hypnosis, for example, is a technique that individuals can use to improve their own well-being.
An area of applicability of such technique is stress management1. A recent study2 explored how self-hypnosis can modulate the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, responsible of the activating responses that are caused by stressful stimuli, and of the parasympathetic nervous system, that favours opposite responses.
Results, obtained from a sample of subjects who didn’t know hypnosis, demonstrated, as suggested by previous researches3,4, that a training in self-hypnosis can promote the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, facilitating the reaching of a state in which the respiratory frequency decreases along with heart rate and blood pressure, and in which the subject can experience a pleasant state of psycho-physical relaxation.
The fact that self-hypnosis allowed to lower the level of anxiety was also confirmed by previous studies. One in particular5 compared two groups: the first one was trained in self-hypnosis while following a cognitive-behavioural therapy to reduce anxiety levels; in the second group, self-hypnosis was substituted by relaxation techniques. At the end of the study, the self-hypnosis group reported better results that lasted longer in time compared to the other group.
The reduction of stress and anxiety levels can improve the functioning of the individual.
An example is provided by the positive effect that this reduction can have on situations that require high levels of attention because of an imminent work or academic performance. In a study6 conducted on first-year medicine students, levels of anxiety of a group trained with self-hypnosis and a control group were compared. Results showed that the first group’s anxiety progressively decreased with the passing of time and that the peak of anxiety of the day of the exam was lower in the subjects of the self-hypnosis group.
This training had an important effect on the students’ quality of life, allowing them to better focus attention, to be more concentrated, to reduce the typical symptoms of stress and to sleep better.
A field in which a certain number of scientific publications exist is that of the treatment of insomnia through self-hypnosis trainings. Insomnia is a difficulty in falling asleep, in remaining asleep during the night that can be accompanied by poor quality or duration of sleep7,8. The sleepiness that derives from this condition can cause a drop in academic or work performance, because of the difficulty to concentrate and to memorize8.
Treating insomnia through hypnosis showed positive outcomes in both children and adults9,10,11, resulting, in some cases, more effective than drugs10. The fact that self-hypnosis allows to lower the levels of physiological activation12, to put stressful thoughts aside and the fact that it can evoke positive images and sensations, allowed, in a study9 conducted on a paediatric sample, to obtain a success percentage of 87%. Such percentage is almost the same for adult patients. Another interesting fact is that in this study the mean duration of insomnia of treated patients was 3 years.
We conclude reporting that in the studies cited above “hypnotisability” of the subjects was irrelevant, qualifying self-hypnosis as a cheap, efficient and generalizable instrument to improve well being that can be used autonomously.

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 Hippel CV, Hole G, Kaschka WP. Autonomic profile under hypnosis as assessed by heart rate variability and spectral analysis. Pharmacopsychiatry. 34;34:111-113.
 O'Neill LM, Barner AJ, McConckey K. Treating anxiety with self hypnosis and relaxation. Contemporary Hypnosis. 1999;16(2):68-80.
Whitehouse WG, Kinges DF, Carota Orne E, Keller SE, Bates BL, Bauer NK, Morahan P, Haupt BA, Carlin MM, Bloom PB, et al. Psychosocial and immune effects of self-hypnosis training for stress management throughout the first semester of medical school. Psychosomatic medicine. 1996;58:249-263.
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 Glaze DG. Childhood insomnia: why chris can't sleep. Pediatric clinics of North America. 2004;51:33-50.
 Anbar RD, Slothower MP. Hypnosis for treatment of insomnia in school-age children: a retrospective chart review. BMC Pediatrics. 2006 Aug 11;6:23.
 Anderson JAD, Dalton ER, Basker MA. Insomnia and Hypnotherapy. Journal of the royal society of medicine. 1979;72:734-739.
 Becker PM. Chronic insomnia: outcome of hypnotherapeutic intervention in six cases. American journal of clinical hypnosis. 1993;36:98-105.
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