Hypnosis Extends Slow Wave Sleep, Research Shows

Sleep researchers at the Universities of Zurich and Fribourg published a study in the scientific journal “Sleep” in June of 2014 that showed hypnosis can improve slow wave sleep (SWS), a very even and slow oscillation in electrical brain activity. SWS has a very restorative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, secretion of growth hormone, memory, cell repair and immune system functioning. The 70 healthy young women in the study, deemed highly suggestible (Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Suggestibility), experienced 80% more slow wave sleep after listening to a sleep hypnosis tape for 13 minutes, compared with sleep after listening to a neutral tape. Time spent awake was reduced by about one-third. The implications are encouraging given hypnosis has no adverse side effects, compared to many sleep inducing medications.

You can read the article here.


Sports and Visualization

In a recent 2014 article in The New York Times February 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/sports/olympics/olympians-use-imagery-as- mental-training.html) as well as the Business Insider in January 2015 (http://www.businessinsider.com/olympic-athletes-and-power-of- visualization-2015-1) the power of visualization used by Olympic Athletes is discussed. (If you cannot link to these articles paste into your browser). The effectiveness has been proven by Russian scientists who conducted a study comparing the training schedules of four groups of Olympic athletes.

Each group used a different combination of physical and mental training:

Group one: 100% physical training
Group two: 75% physical training, 25% mental training
Group three: 50% physical training, 50% mental training
Group four: 25% physical training, 75% mental training

The scientists found that the fourth group performed the best during the Olympics. Such mental training practice stimulates the same brain regions as we do when we actually perform that same action – a sort of conditioning for your brain. Emily Cook, of the United States freestyle ski team, uses the word “imagery” as it involves using all the senses to perform her best. She also describes how you can rehearse negative possible scenarios by using stop thought or other dismissal techniques to clear the mind of obstacles.

In a relaxed state of hypnosis, the ability to visualize and imagine is enhanced for added benefits for success and
consistency, For more information on sports read the above articles and see my articles:
Sports Performance and Hypnotherapy

My Sports Performance Program

A Sampling of Scientific Research on Sports Hypnotherapy/Imagery

Famous Athletes and Teams Who Have Used Hypnosis

The use of hypnosis in top level sports is by no means a new phenomenon. The following is just a small sampling of reported athletes and teams who have used hypnosis, guided imagery or visualization.
As far back as 1956 it has been reported that eleven hypnotherapists accompanied the team to the Melbourne Olympics to instill confidence and the “will to win” in the athletes. In 1968 the Swiss Olympic ski squad used imagery and went on to win 3 medals in 1968 and more in 1972.

In 1959, Ingmar Johannson used hypnosis training to win the heavy weight boxing title from Floyd Patterson.

Boxer Ken Norton used hypnosis training before his famous victory over Mohammed Ali in 1973, where Ken was a 7-1 underdog. Mohammed Ali began using hypnosis shortly after this loss.

In the early 1980s, hypnotist Peter Siegel worked with bodybuilder Lee Haney who went on to win the Mr. Olympia title eight years in a row! In 1985 Peter worked with bodybuilder Mike Christian who went on to conclusively win the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles. In his book, Pro-Style Bodybuilding, Mr. Universe winner, Tom Platz, says, “Unless my mind triggers the will to improve my physique, it won’t happen. Essentially, the mind is the master potentiator in bodybuilding.” Yes, Tom consulted a hypnotist! Even heavy-weight boxing champion Mike Tyson had a personal hypnotist named John Halpin.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of hypnotherapy in professional sports is the story of the great baseball player, Rodney Carew. He played from 1967 to 1985. After suffering an injury which had technically healed, he was still experiencing pain symptoms and an elevated sense of self doubt. Carew began to work with a hypnotherapist and he eventually came back to the best season of his entire career, with a batting score of almost .400, and went on to win ‘The most valuable player award’!

The entire 1983 Chicago White Sox baseball team used hypnosis to help win their division and reach the playoffs that year.

Others in baseball include Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Maury Wills, Don Sutton, Mark McGwire who all reported using hypnosis to be able to relax for baseball games.

Time Magazine reported in a cover story on the 1984 Olympics that on the night before the finals in women’s gymnastics, famous athlete, Mary Lou Retton, then age 16, lay in bed at the Olympic Village mentally rehearsing her performance ritual. She had done the same on hundreds of previous nights, visualizing herself performing all her routines perfectly. The result, of course, was a performance of perfection, presented with charm, poise and confidence, culminating in a gold medal.

In 1996, Irish boxer Steve Collins used hypnosis for the Middleweight Boxing Championship of the world against Chris Eubank. The suggestion under hypnosis was to throw two punches for every one of reigning champion Eubank’s. In the bout Steve Collins threw twice as many punches as Eubank approx 600 to 300 and became champion of the world.

A Wall Street Journal article (February 11, 2002) brings recognition to the field of hypnotherapy. Bronze medal Olympic champion Adam Malysz used hypnosis for his ski jump victory: “And before ascending the ramp and lurching down that icy slide in the 90 meter event, he descended an imaginary staircase-20 slow deep steps into a trance.”

Phil Jackson, NBA head coach of the Chicago Bulls, practiced daily self-hypnosis when he coached Michael Jordon and the Bulls to their 6 NBA championships. Later, after coaching the L.A. Lakers to win the Western Conference Finals in 2002, Jackson credited his morning practice of self-hypnosis, meditation and visualization with giving the Lakers the belief they could win.

Jimmy Connors, used hypnosis in winning the U.S. Open Championship.

Tiger Wood’s mental coach, Jay Brunza, hypnotised him to block out distractions and focus on the golf course. When Woods was a teenager, he worked with a hypnotist to help place his mind in the proverbial zone.

Jack Nicklaus claims that his golf success due to practicing concentration and visualization. He estimated that 50% of his game is mental imagery.

Steve Hooker won the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal in pole vaulting after his hypnotist helped him visualize his success.

The Irish Athletes commissioned a hypnosis practitioner to work with team members in preparing for the 2012 Olympic games. Focus for performance under pressure was addressed.

This is just a sampling of a few of the better known athletes utilizing sports hypnosis and visualization. Perhaps you know of others?

Nancy Wheeler also works with Athletes of all ages and levels of experience. Contact me.

Thanks for the Award!


189Last Saturday I received a surprise award, “Fellow,” at the Oregon Hypnotherapy Association’s (OHA) 20th Commemorative Celebration. I was honored as the Association’s second Administrator after the passing of the founder, Larry Skolnik, in 2004. I was proud to move the organization from one with primarily a political focus to one of professionalism through continuing education, networking, communication and referral. Thank you to all the subsequent Presidents and members (old and new) for taking new leaps in building the Association. I commend you for your outreach to both local and national professionals who provide added recognition, support and education to OHA. Keep up the good work!

Comparing Meditation to Hypnosis


Clients often ask me “What is the differewnce between hypnosis and meditation?” Simply put:
Meditation and hypnosis can be similar in terms of the process utilized to achieve a relaxed state. For example both may use breathing, progressive muscle relation or a visualization of a calm, beautiful place to relax the mind and body. Both can recharge and rejuvinate, release stress and anxiety and quiet the mind’s incessant chatter. Both can be taught or practiced in a class/group format or done alone (self-hypnosis). From here, similarities begin to disappear.

Meditation and hypnosis differ in terms of outcome. Meditation is a practice of “mindfullness,” or nonjudgemental awareness of sensations, feelings, thoughts without “trying” to do anything but observe. Just letting such come and go and being at peace with it all IS the practice of meditation. In other words, the process is the practice. Hypnosis, in contrast, utilizes the relaxed state to suggest specific therapeutic change to the subconscious mind. This could be weight loss, release of fears, stop smoking, improvement in sleep, etc. In other words, hypnosis involves directing the awareness toward specific goals and outcomes, reprogramming the subconscious mind. Most often, a trained hypnotherapist works with a client to determine specific goals and suggestions and guides the process to give the subconscious mind the pre-agreed therapeutic suggestions.

Characteristics of Confident People

After working with and knowing many people throughout my life and career, I have noticed some characteristics that seem to be in common with happy, confident people in varied stages of life:

·        Have positive and attainable expectations

·        Take risks using experience and knowledge

·        Believe in their own abilities and uniqueness yet humble

·        See uncertainty as a challenge

·        Trust that perceived failure is a closer step to the goal

·        Trust their own judgment

·        Mistakes serve to motivate additional learning

·        Can genuinely laugh at themselves

·        Can listen but also express themselves with thoughtful words

·        Recognize the value of personal mishaps, learn and release the past

·        Feel worthy of good things happening

·        Like themselves and want others to feel the same

·        Nurture themselves in healthy positive ways

·        Are comfortable alone and with others

·        Feel compassion for others and a desire for a healthy planet

·        Can easily ask those they love and trust what they need                               ”

·        Realize that all of the above (and more) are a lifelong process where choices are available


Please add to this list. I welcome your thoughts.

If you would like to feel more of these characteristics, you can reprogram your subconscious mind to work with you and for you! This is what I enjoy doing.

Scientific Research Using Hypnosis for Pain Control

The literature and scientific research is extensive in the field of pain control. The rest of this article is a sampling of some of the more recent abstracts from 2000 to 2012.

Some good reviews:

Stoelb BL, Morton IR, Jensen MP, Patterson DR. (2009). The efficacy of hypnotic analgesia in adults: A review of the literature. Contemporary Hypnosis. Mar 1; 26(1):24-39.

This article both summarizes the previous reviews of randomized, controlled trials of hypnotic analgesia for the treatment of chronic and acute pain in adults, and reviews similar trials which have recently been published in the scientific literature. The results indicate that for both chronic and acute pain conditions: (1) hypnotic analgesia consistently results in greater decreases in a variety of pain outcomes compared to no treatment/standard care; (2) hypnosis frequently out-performs non-hypnotic interventions (e.g. education, supportive therapy) in terms of reductions in pain-related outcomes; and (3) hypnosis performs similarly to treatments that contain hypnotic elements (such as progressive muscle relaxation), but is not surpassed in efficacy by these alternative treatments. Factors that may influence the efficacy of hypnotic analgesia interventions are discussed, including, but not limited to, the patient’s level of suggestibility, treatment outcome expectancy, and provider  expertise. Based upon this body of literature, suggestions are offered for practitioners who are using, or would like to use, hypnosis for the amelioration of pain problems in their patients or clients.

Montgomery, GH., David, D., Winkel, G., Siverstein, JH., Bovbjerg, DH. (2002). The effectiveness of adjunctive hypnosis with surgical patients: A meta-analysis. Anesthesia and Analgesia. 94(6):1639-1645.

This meta-analysis examined the results of 20 published controlled studies examining the use of hypnosis as an adjunct with surgical patients. In these studies hypnosis was typically administered to patients in the form of a relaxing induction phase followed by suggestions for the control of side effect profiles (e.g. pain, nausea, distress). Only studies in which patients were randomised to either a hypnosis or control group (no-treatment, routine care, or attention control group) were included. The results revealed that patients in the hypnosis treatment groups had better outcomes than 89% of the patients in the control groups. It was found that adjunctive hypnosis helped the majority of patients reduce adverse consequences of surgical interventions.

Montgomery, GH., DuHamel, KN., Redd WH. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnotically

induced  analgesia: how effective is hypnosis? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 48(2): 138-53.
This meta-analysis examined the effectiveness of hypnosis in pain management. It compares studies that evaluated hypnotic pain reduction in healthy volunteers vs. those using patient samples, looks at the relationship between hypnoanalgesic effects and participants’ hypnotic suggestibility, and determines the effectiveness of hypnotic suggestion for pain relief relative to other nonhypnotic psychological interventions. Examination of 18 studies revealed a moderate to large hypnoanalgesic effect, supporting the efficacy of hypnotic techniques for pain management. The results also indicated that hypnotic suggestion was equally effective in reducing both clinical and experimental pain.
Patterson, DR, Jensen, MP. (2003). Hypnosis and clinical pain. Psychol. Bull. Jul;129(4):495-521.
Hypnosis has been demonstrated to reduce analogue pain, and studies on the mechanisms of laboratory pain reduction have provided useful applications to clinical populations. Studies showing central nervous system activity during hypnotic procedures offer preliminary information concerning possible physiological mechanisms of hypnotic analgesia. Randomized controlled studies with clinical populations indicate that hypnosis has a reliable and significant impact on acute procedural pain and chronic pain conditions. Methodological issues of this body of research are discussed, as are methods to better integrate hypnosis into comprehensive pain treatment.


Some Specific Areas:

This is an older but promising study:
Patterson DR, Everett JJ, Burns GL, Marvin JA. (1992). Hypnosis for the treatment of burn pain.  J Consult Clin Psychol. Oct; 60(5):713-7.

The clinical utility of hypnosis for controlling pain during burn wound debridement was investigated. Thirty hospitalized burn patients and their nurses submitted visual analog scales (VAS) for pain during 2 consecutive daily wound debridements. On the 1st day, patients and nurses submitted baseline VAS ratings. Before the next day’s would debridement, Ss received hypnosis, attention and information, or no treatment. Only hypnotized Ss reported significant pain reductions relative to pretreatment baseline. This result was corroborated by nurse VAS ratings. Findings indicate that hypnosis is a viable adjunct treatment for burn pain. Theoretical and practical implications and future research directions are discussed.

Mette MB, Davadant M, Marin C, Wasserfallen JB, Pinget C, Maravic P, Koch N, Raffoul W. Chiolero RL. (2010). Impact of a pain protocol including hypnosis in major burns. Science Direct. Aug; 36(5):639-646.
The study focused on the impact of a pain protocol using hypnosis on pain intensity, anxiety, clinical course, and costs. A pain protocol including hypnosis reduced pain intensity, improved opioid efficiency, reduced anxiety, improved wound outcome while reducing costs. The protocol guided use of opioids improved patient care without side effects, while hypnosis had significant psychological benefits.
Pain Management in Breast Cancer

Jensen MP, Gralow JR, Braden A, Gertz, KJ, Fann JR, Syrjala KL. (2012). Hypnosis for symptom management in women with breast cancer: A pilot study. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 60(2).

Eight women who were in treatment for breast cancer (n = 4) or breast cancer survivors (n = 4), presenting with 1 or more of 4 symptoms (chronic pain, fatigue, hot flashes, and sleep difficulties), were given 4 to 5 sessions of self-hypnosis training for symptom management. Analyses revealed (a) significant pre- to posttreatment decreases in pain intensity, fatigue, and sleep problems and (b) that pain intensity continued to decrease from posttreatment to 6-month follow-up. Although there was a slight increase in fatigue severity and sleep problems from posttreatment to 6-month follow-up, the follow-up scores did not return to pretreatment levels. The findings provide initial support for using hypnosis to manage symptoms in women who are breast cancer survivors.

Butler L D, Koopman C, Neri E, Giese-Davis J, Palesh O, Thome-Yocam K A, Dimiceli S, Chen X-H, Fobair  P, Kraemer HC, Spiegel D. (2009). Effects of supportive-expressive group therapy on pain in women with metastatic breast cancer. Health Psychology. Sept; Vol 28(5):579-587.

This randomized clinical trial examined the effects of group therapy with hypnosis (supportive-expressive group therapy) plus education compared to an education-only control condition on pain over 12 months among 124 women with metastatic breast cancer. Main Outcome Measures: Pain and suffering, frequency of pain, and degree of constant pain were assessed at baseline and 4-month intervals. Those in the treatment group also reported on their experiences using the hypnosis exercises. Results: Intention-to-treat analyses indicated that the intervention resulted in significantly less increase in the intensity of pain and suffering over time, compared to the education-only group, but had no significant effects on the frequency of pain episodes or amount of constant pain, and there was no interaction of the intervention with hypnotizability. Within the intervention group, highly hypnotizable participants, compared to those less hypnotizable, reported greater benefits from hypnosis, employed self-hypnosis more often outside of group, and used it to manage other symptoms in addition to pain. Conclusion: These results augment the growing literature supporting the use of hypnosis as an adjunctive treatment for medical patients experiencing pain.
Montgomery GH, Bovbjerg DH, Schnur JB, David D, Goldfarb A, Weltz CR, Schechter C, Graff-Zivin J, Tatrow K, Price DD, Silverstein JH. (2007). A randomized clinical trial of a brief hypnosis intervention to control side effects in breast surgery patients. J Natl Cancer Inst; Sept 5;99(17):1304-12.

In this study of 200 randomized patients undergoing breast biopsy or lumpectomy, using a 15 minute presurgical hypnosis session, hypnosis subjects significantly reduced pain medications, reported less pain intensity, nausea, fatigue, discomfort and emotional upset. Patients in the hypnosis group cost the institution $772.71 less per patient than those in the control group.
Chronic Muscular Pain

Grondahl JR, Rosvold EO, Hypnosis as a treatment of chronic widespread pain in general practice: A randomized controlled pilot trial.(2008) BMC Musculskelet Discord. 9:124-129.
This pilot study was performed to study the effect of a standardized hypnosis treatment used in general practice for patients with widespread muscular pain. The intervention group went through a standardized hypnosis treatment with ten consecutive therapeutic sessions once a week, each lasting for about 30 minutes, focusing on ego-strengthening, relaxation, releasing muscular tension and increasing self-efficacy. The treatment group improved from their symptoms while the control group deteriorated. One year later the treatment group had a persisting improvement. The sample size was small suggesting more studies are needed.

Castel A, Cascón R, Padrol A, Sala J, Rull M.,(2012). Multicomponent cognitive-behavioral group therapy with hypnosis for the treatment of fibromyalgia: long-term outcome. J Pain. Mar;13(3):255-65.

This study compared the efficacy of 2 psychological treatments for fibromyalgia with each other and with standard care. Ninety-three patients with fibromyalgia (FM) were randomly assigned to 1 of the 3 experimental conditions: 1) multicomponent cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT); 2) multicomponent CBT with hypnosis; and 3) pharmacological treatment (standard care control group). The outcome measures of pain intensity, catastrophizing, psychological distress, functionality, and sleep disturbances were assessed before treatment, immediately after treatment, and at 3- and 6-month follow-up visits. CBT and CBT with hypnosis participants received the standard pharmacological management plus 14 weekly, 120-minute-long sessions of psychological treatment. All but 1 session followed a group format; the remaining session was individual. The analyses indicated that: 1) patients with FM who received multicomponent CBT alone or multicomponent CBT with hypnosis showed greater improvements than patients who received only standard care; and 2) adding hypnosis enhanced the effectiveness of multicomponent CBT. This study presents new evidence about the efficacy of multicomponent CBT for FM and about the additional effects of hypnosis as a complement to CBT.

Martínez-Valero C, Castel A, Capafons A, Sala J, Espejo B, Cardeña E. (2008). Hypnotic
treatment synergizes the psychological treatment of fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Am J Clin Hypn. Apr; 50(4):311-21.

In this pilot the efficacy of treatment for fibromyalgia in multimodal cognitive behavioral treatments is studied, with and without hypnosis and with that of a purely pharmacological approach. Six hospital patients were randomly assigned to the three experimental conditions. The results suggest that psychological treatment produces greater symptom benefits than the conventional medical treatment only, especially when hypnosis is added. It is conclude that hypnosis may be a useful tool to help people with fibromyalgia manage their symptomatology.
Headaches (Tension and Migraine)

Hammond CD, (2007). Review of the efficacy of clinical hypnosis with headaches and migrains. 2007). Int. J Clin. Exper. Hypn. 55(2):207-219.

In this extensive review of the literature on tension and migraine headaches, hypnosis qualifies as both efficacious and specific.  Hypnosis has been found out to be statistically superior or equivalent in comparison with commonly used medication treatments, in a double-blind placebo controlled study, in comparison to established biofeedback treatments and in research performed by many investigations. This review recognizes that hypnosis has been found to be free from side effects, adverse reactions and ongoing expenses.
Pain Control in Children

Tomé-Pires C, Miró J. (2012). Hypnosis for the management of chronic and cancer procedure-related pain in children. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. Oct; 60(4):432-57.

The aim of this study was to review published controlled trials of hypnotic treatments for chronic and cancer procedure-related pain in children. Trials were included if participants were 18 years of age or below, were randomized and had populations with chronic pain or cancer procedure-related pain. After the studies were assessed, 12 were selected for review. Although the evidence is limited, the findings indicate that hypnosis is an effective pain-control technique when used with children suffering from cancer procedure-related pain or chronic pain. Further research into the use of hypnosis to manage chronic pain in children should be a priority so that empirically based conclusions can be drawn about the effects of hypnosis on children.
Landier W, Tse AM. (2010). Use of complementary and alternative medical interventions for the management of procedure-related pain, anxiety, and distress in pediatric oncology: an integrative review. J Pediatr Nurs. Dec; 25(6):566-79.
This integrative review aims to identify evidence in four electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL,

PsyINFO, and COCHRANE) regarding the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medical interventions, either alone or as an adjunct to pharmacological therapy, in alleviating procedure-related pain, anxiety, and distress in children and adolescents with cancer. A total of 32 articles met inclusion criteria. Results suggest that mind-body interventions, including hypnosis, distraction, and imagery, may be effective, alone or as adjuncts to pharmacological interventions, in managing procedure-related pain, anxiety, and distress in pediatric oncology.
Rogovik AL, Goldman RD.(2007). Hypnosis for treatment of pain in children.

Can Fam Physician. May; 53(5):823-5.

A review of research conducted at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada found hypnosis to be effective for analgesia in children. Children can be easier to hypnotize than adults. Studies have shown clinical hypnosis and self-hypnosis to be effective as adjunct treatments for children in pain. Examples include painful medical procedures, such as bone marrow aspiration and lumbar puncture in pediatric cancer patients, postoperative pain and anxiety in children undergoing surgery, and chronic headache.
Childbirth and Hypnosis for Pain Control

There are many studies in this area. Here are two recent reviews:

Landolt AS, Milling LS. (2011) The efficacy of hypnosis as an intervention for labor and delivery pain: a comprehensive methodological review. Clin Psychol Rev. Aug; 31(6):1022-31.

This paper presents a comprehensive methodological review of research on the efficacy of hypnosis for reducing labor and delivery pain. To be included, studies were required to use a between-subjects or mixed model design in which hypnosis was compared with a control condition or alternative intervention in reducing labor pain. An exhaustive search of the PsycINFO and PubMed databases produced 13 studies satisfying these criteria. Hetero-hypnosis and self-hypnosis were consistently shown to be more effective than standard medical care, supportive counseling, and childbirth education classes in reducing pain. Other benefits included better infant Apgar scores and shorter Stage 1 labor. Common methodological limitations of the literature include a failure to use random assignment, to specify the demographic characteristics of samples, and to use a treatment manual.
Cyna AM, McAuliffe GL, Andrew MI. (2004). Hypnosis for pain relief in labour and childbirth: a systematic review. Br J Anaesth. Oct; 93(4):505-11.

Five randomized control trials and 14 non-randomized comparisons studying 8395 women were identified where hypnosis was used for labour analgesia. Results showed women using hypnosis rated their labour pain less severe than controls (P<0.01). Hypnosis reduced opioid (meperidine) requirements (P<0.001), and increased the incidence of not requiring pharmacological analgesia in labour (P<0.001).
If you have a need for pain control please contact me for a free consultation at www.nancybwheeler.com or 503-684-4112. As a certified medical hypnotherapist and hypnoanaesthesia therapist I am qualified and experienced to assist you. Find out how you can live a life of quality and comfort.

My Second Office


Did you know I have a second office on the beautiful Oregon Coast? It is just south of Newport. Perhaps a session at the coast and some time to nurture yourself is due? You deserve it.


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