London: Do you grab that bottle of sleeping pills every time you have trouble nodding off? Try hypnosis instead.
Researchers have shown that restorative slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep, can also be increased without medication - using hypnosis, a method that can influence processes which are very difficult to control voluntarily.
"It opens up new, promising opportunities for improving the quality of sleep without drugs," said biopsychologist Björn Rasch from University of Zurich in Switzerland.
The study involved 70 healthy young women who came to the sleep laboratory for a 90-minute mid-day nap.
Before falling asleep, they listened to a special 13-minute slow-wave sleep hypnosis tape over loudspeakers, developed by hypnotherapist Angelika Schlarb, a sleep specialist, or to a neutral spoken text.
Highly suggestible women experienced 80 percent more slow-wave sleep after listening to the hypnosis tape compared with sleep after listening to the neutral text.
For older adults and patients with sleeping problems, the results could come as a sigh of relief as in contrast to many sleep-inducing drugs, hypnosis hardly has any adverse side effects.
The study appeared in the journal Sleep.