‘NCIS’: A Murder Suspect Gets Hypnosis for Insomnia—Does It Really Work?

In the latest episode of NCIS, agent Gibbs must tackle a strange case when Marine Corporal Laney Alimonte (Camryn Grimes) becomes the subject of their latest investigation. Evidence is found that possibly points to her being her neighbor’s murderer. It’s revealed that she’s in treatment for insomnia with a hypnotherapist. Does hypnotherapy for insomnia really work? Should you even consider it? Here’s what the experts told Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

Mark Harmon and Sean Murray | Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon and Sean Murray | Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images

What causes insomnia?

There are a host of factors that could lead to trouble getting sleep. Julie Lambert, a certified sleep expert from Happysleepyhead.com, told Showbiz Cheat Sheet anything from health issues to emotional states and lifestyle choices could impact sleep quality:

Insomnia can be caused by medical conditions (such as chronic pain, asthma, acid reflux, nasal congestion) as well as by emotional states and psychological disorders (such as anger, grief, anxiety, depression). Specific lifestyles and habits can also take its toll on one’s ability to fall and stay asleep. Some of the examples are late-night work at home, irregular work schedules, evening coffee, heavy meals, etc. In some cases, the chemical imbalance in the brain–such as insufficient production of certain neurotransmitters–can lead to insomnia too.

Does hypnosis for insomnia really work?

Emily Wickersham as NCIS Special Agent Eleanor "Ellie" Bishop, Camryn Grimes as Marine Corporal Laney Alimonte, and Mark Harmon as Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs | Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images
Emily Wickersham as NCIS Special Agent Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop, Camryn Grimes as Marine Corporal Laney Alimonte, and Mark Harmon as Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs | Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images

After watching NCIS season 17 episode 5, you might be wondering about hypnosis for insomnia. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep should you try out hypnosis? Martin Reed, a certified clinical sleep health educator and the founder of Insomnia Coach doesn’t seem convinced that hypnosis will help much if you have insomnia. “There isn’t much evidence to support hypnotherapy as an effective treatment for chronic insomnia but there is overwhelming evidence to support cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) techniques. That’s because CBT-I addresses the root cause of chronic insomnia–the sleep-related thoughts and behaviors that perpetuate the problem,” said Reed.

Not everyone agrees on the efficacy of hypnosis for sleep. Jeanine Joy, Ph.D., a sleep researcher, says hypnosis could work for some people:

Hypnotherapy can work well for some types of insomnia. The efficacy partially depends on how suggestible the subject is to the suggestions given by the hypnotist. The cause of insomnia will also play a role in the effectiveness of hypnosis for sleep. When the cause is psychological, hypnosis is a viable treatment option. Hypnosis can make someone with irrational fears feel safe but if the fear is from a real fear, hypnosis is unlikely to alleviate it (and shouldn’t). Hypnosis can alleviate or reduce some types of pain, such as joint pain but it shouldn’t be used unless the source of pain is known. For example, stomach pain should not be addressed with hypnosis because it could be a sign of a dangerous condition. Hypnosis can be used to modify behavior which could be helpful in improving sleep quality.

How can you get a good night’s sleep?

If you’re tossing and turning at night, there are a few ways you can finally get some rest. Rose MacDowell, chief research officer at Sleepopolis, advises making sure your bed isn’t also used as a workspace. When you do to many different activities where you sleep, this trains your brain to keep you in active mode when you should be sleeping:

For a good night’s sleep, use the bed for sleep and sex only to avoid conditioning the brain that the bed is a place for thinking, working, or lying awake. If you can’t sleep, get up and engage in a quiet activity until you feel sleepy. Repeat until you fall asleep quickly. Avoid blue light exposure at night and use blue-light blocking glasses if you must use electronics or the TV within a few hours of bedtime. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals in the evening, and exercise in the morning or afternoon. Exercise helps to regulate the circadian rhythm and improves sleep efficiency.

Read more: ‘NCIS’ Season 17, Episode 5: The Team Faces an Unusual Situation, Gibbs Makes a New Friend

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