Does Hypnosis Still Work If You Fall Asleep?

does hypnosis still work if you fall asleep? Picture of a person asleep

Does Hypnosis Still Work If You Fall Asleep?

Have you ever listened to a self hypnosis recording and woke up at the end wondering does hypnosis still work if you fall asleep? Or did you visit a hypnotherapist and can’t remember some of the session? The real question is – does your subconscious mind actually hear and absorb the hypnotic suggestions you received when you “fell asleep”? Or were you really asleep or actually in a state of deep trance? In this article, we’ll explore some of the questions, reveal some of the science and I’ll give you my opinion based upon over 15 years of clinical experience as a hypnotherapist.

Hypnosis has long been used for those suffering from sleep issues or chronic insomnia. With the help of hypnosis by using a hypnosis audio recording on a regular basis, many people have managed to wean themselves off of sleep medications and have positive results. However, this article is not focussed on people with sleep problems. Instead, we ask the question “does hypnosis still work if you fall asleep”.

When Is The Best Time To Listen To Hypnosis?

Many people ask me this question. The answer is, broadly speaking, whenever suits you. However, please bear in mind some of the guidelines below.

Some people find that if they listen to a self hypnosis recording at bedtime, the waking suggestion causes them problems sleeping afterwards. This is why I always suggest to my clients that the best time to listen to hypnosis audios is whatever is the best time for you. The aim is to get into a daydreamy state but not fall deeply asleep. If you are hugely tired, that is probably not a good time to listen. On the flip side of that, if you are a bit “wired”, or if you have some deadline about to happen, that’s probably not a good time either. 

The best time is where you’ve had a little time to let the stresses of the day fade. It’s also that time where you don’t have to be somewhere in 45 minutes time and you are just going to try to sqeeze in the hypnosis session beforehand. I always suggest picking pretty much the same time every day (if your schedule allows for that). Make it a routine. Pick the same time. Listen in the same place if you can (eg. lying down on your bed, or sitting on a comfy armchair). 

If you just aren’t relaxing after about five minutes of listening to the recording, then stop. Leave it until a different time. This particularly applies if your mind is racing for some reason. Because we want to turn listening to hypnosis recording into a habit, it’s important to do it the right way. If all you are experiencing is frustration, then you don’t want that to become part of the habit. You want to create a desire to listen to the recording every day and that is only going to happen if it’s a pleasant experience.

Try out listening at bedtime. If that’s not suiting you, then maybe listen when you come home from work, or perhaps a couple of hours before bedtime.

Understanding Brain Wave Frequencies

Brain Waves Infographic

There are five main brain waves frequencies that you can see in the infographic above

  • Gamma – this is when you are in a state of deep concentration and focus
  • Beta – you spend most of your time in the beta state. It’s normal levels of alertness and awareness of your surroundings.
  • Alpha – this is when you are definitely calmer. Typical examples of the alpha state are reading a book or being in your favourite, quiet place in nature. You’re still aware, and awake but not quite as alert. This is the state that people sometimes call “escape”.
  • Theta – deep daydreaming would best describe this state. You are not fully asleep but not fully awake either. This is the ideal state for good hypnosis.
  • Delta – this is the state of really deep sleep where you are fully unconscious and unaware of the outside world.

The aim, when it comes to hypnosis, is to get to the “Theta” state. In this state, your conscious mind cannot interfere with the suggestions you are hearing in the recording. This is because your “critical factor”, in other words, the part of your mind that is involved in questioning and weighing up what to believe or not believe, is on pause. When your critcal factor has paused, it is much easier to get into the hypnotic state.

In order to avoid ever asking yourself the question “does hypnosis still work if you fall asleep. all you’ve got to do is avoid the “Delta” state.

Were You Really Asleep Or In Deep Trance?

What is the difference between sleep and deep trance? Actually, it can be quite difficult to tell for the person who is asleep / in trance. For instance, if you were listening to one of my self hypnosis audios and you awaken at the end and liiterally have no idea what I have said, what are you to believe? Because you are not an expert on hypnosis, you are left wondering. Of course, the question this prompts is “is it having any effect because I can’t remember it?”.

I believe there is a simple way to tell whether it was sleep or deep trance. On most of my audio recordings, there is a waking suggestion (or trance termination) at the end. This is where, I count from one up to five and tell you that by the time I reach the number five, you’ll be wide awake and fully aware. At this point, you leave your trance-like state and open your eyes and re-orient yourself to the real world around you.

If you return to your full alert awareness on the count of five, then you have been in a hypnotic trance. However, if, at the end of the session, you do not awaken immediately and only eventually awaken half an hour or an hour later, it is more likely that you were in a sleep state.

Is There Any Benefit To Listening To Hypnosis While Sleeping?

is there any benefit to listening to hypnosis while sleeping image of a guy asleep with headphones on

Actually, yes. You might think that when you are asleep, that your mind doesn’t hear anything said on a recording. In a study conducted in 2014, it was shown that:

  • the amount of “slow-wave sleep” increases (ie. your sleep quality gets better)
  • sleep disturbances (ie waking in the middle of the night) reduced

We can deduce from this that self hypnosis downloads can be an effective way of achieving a very deep state of hypnosis. Sleep hypnotherapy can help you to achieve a state of deep relaxation and can help you, not only with sleep problems or sleep disorders but by ensuring you have enough sleep, help with various conditions, both mental health conditions and even a medical condition. While we cannot say for absolute certain if every suggestion is being heard and absorbed, we do know that just by listening, at the very least, you will improve your sleep outcomes and have better quality sleep.

There is anecdotal evidence from the story of the golfer Tiger Woods who was conditioned to be a golfer by listening to hypnosis tapes during his sleep while just a child. His father made hypnosis tapes and played them for him when he was just a young child. Some would argue that this was an attempt at brainwashing, however, it did actually work. Tiger turned out to be the world’s leading golfer for quite a number of years.

Can You Be Hypnotized While Sleeping?

In the book “Brain & Behaviour” published in 1981, it is claimed that “some hypnotizable individuals can respond while sleeping (particularly in stage REM sleep) to behavioral suggestions administered during sleep without having any awareness of their response in the subsequent waking state.”

The implication is that the only people who can experience hypnosis while asleep, or be guided into a trance state by the use of hypnosis while they are already asleep, are those people who would be described as highly suggestible. For best results the hypnotherapist would need to use a very low, soothing voice right from the outset so as not to awaken the subject. Through the use of hypnotherapy techniques by a trained therapist, sleep hypnosis can be a powerful tool in implanting conditioning suggestions.

Sleep hypnosis work is not something that most hypnotherapists are trained at. I remember discussing an interesting tv show with other hypnotherapist a number of years ago. The hypnotist / mentalist featured in this tv program was Derren Brown, who will probably be better known to people in the UK and Ireland. The premise of this show was that he got into the subjects room after he had gone to sleep. This was made possible by the collaboration of the subjects family. Derren took him from sleep into a hypntoic state and then gave him suggestions which he acted upon the following day.

During my training, I was never taught how to do this, or even told that it was possible. What this tv program did highlight was that our sense of hearing is not fully shut down when we are asleep, (or at least not during all of our sleep). I reckon your ability to absorb suggestions actually depends on what stage of sleep you are at. This varies dramatically from person to person. Some people will fall into a deep sleep immediately while others will go through the stages of light and medium levels of sleep at a slower pace.


Learn Hypnosis For Beginners

Learn how to get someone into hypnosis, how to deepen trance, post-hypnotic suggestions and how to end trance safely.


Learn Hypnosis For Beginners

Learn how to get someone into hypnosis, how to deepen trance, post-hypnotic suggestions and how to end trance safely.

How Often Should You Listen To Hypnosis Recordings?

I only ever ask my clients to listen to a recording once per day. Over the years, I have had some clients who told me they listened a couple of times per day. That is really up to you. If you’d like to listen more often that should be perfectly fine. Getting more relaxed more often is a good thing.

Hypnotic suggestions are best embedded in your mind by constant repetition, so I always recommend to my clients that they listen once per day for thirty days. This means that the visualization of success on the recording is being vividly imagined every day, stored as a memory and turns into a habit because of repeating it for thirty days. This becomes even more powerful if the recording prompts you to experience a strong emotion in relation to the success you are achieving.

So, Does Hypnosis Still Work If You Fall Asleep?

Hypnosis is a helpful tool in solving many problems The hypnosis process involves being “induced” into hypnosis. Most recordings contain what’s called a “progressive muscle relaxation” induction where you are prompted to focus on each muscle group in tun and relax that area deeply. Then there is a deepening which usually involves counting downwards until the numbers get a bit muddled up. When you are fully and deeply relaxed, you’ll hear suggestions for changing the way you think about whatever is your problem.

So, for instance, if you are afraid of dogs, you might be prompted to imagine having fun throwing a ball for a dog to fetch and rubbing the dog on the head when it returns. In your relaxed state of hypnosis, those positive mental images become part of your reality, contradicting your old fear beliefs and counteracting them. Many people have asked me whether the recording is till effective if they’ve fallen asleep. 

My personal feeling is that it is better if you are not fully asleep, although I have had clients who tell me they always fall asleepv when listening but yet they get the desired effect. I would always explain that hypnosis is a subjective thing. If you feel you are not getting the desired result because you feel you might be falling asleep, then maybe sit in a chair instead of lying down, or listen at a different time of the day.

Picture of Author: Paul Hunter

Author: Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here



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Picture of Paul Hunter

Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here

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