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Virtual Reality Hypnosis And COVID-19: How VR Hypnosis Improves Sleep Quality Of COVID-19 Medical Staff

For frontline medical staff, getting enough sleep has always been an issue.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, however, things have gotten considerably worse.

Two studies were undertaken to try and work out the following:

  • How COVID-19 affects the quality of sleep for medical staff
  • What effect impaired sleep has on their physical and mental health

As well as examining the data, one study looked at combining Hypnosis and Virtual Reality (VR) to improve sleep quality.

Virtual reality hypnosis and COVID-19 might seem like strange bedfellows, but this innovative approach has yielded some promising results.

There’s already a link between hypnosis and sleep improvement, as hypnosis is a well-established tool for overcoming insomnia.

With the addition of virtual reality, the potential for reducing anxiety while simultaneously improving sleep quality has mushroomed.

That’s significant because if these frontline workers aren’t getting the sleep they need to function, both they and the people they care for will suffer even more.

Before checking out the studies in detail, let’s find out a bit more about this groundbreaking technology and how it works.

How Virtual Reality Hypnosis Became Part Of The Picture

In simple terms, virtual reality hypnosis (VRH) is simply a combination of hypnosis and virtual reality.

As you probably know, hypnosis is a state of consciousness during which the subject focuses their attention inward. The idea is to switch off from the outside world in order to access their own unconscious mind.

Traditionally, this is accomplished with the help of a hypnotist or therapist, who is usually guiding the subject with a hypnotic script.

Virtual reality is a computer-generated life-like environment that immerses the subject in a 3D world using responsive hardware such as a headset. They can interact with this environment and feel like they’re actually in that place.

One of the issues with hypnosis is that it’s not always easy for people to imagine themselves somewhere else, such as walking through a forest, strolling on a beach, descending an ornate staircase, and so on.

With virtual reality, that problem is eliminated. There’s no need to try and “see” yourself in a particular landscape, because the software and hardware will transport you there.

That makes it easier for the hypnotic suggestions to be made while the subject explores their new environment.

So virtual reality hypnosis actually refers to a hypnotic induction that is delivered using a customized VR hardware/software setup.

It’s already been used successfully for pain management and anxiety relief. With the ongoing prevalence of coronavirus, it makes sense to try to apply this combined technology in as many facets of life as possible.

And one of the most important facets concerns the quality of sleep.

But what does the evidence tell us?

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Clinical Evidence Of Virtual Reality Hypnosis And Its Effects On Sleep

Luigi Ferini-Strambi et al decided to investigate sleep quality among medical staff for three reasons:

1. Poor sleep makes people more susceptible to COVID-19
2. Disrupted sleep leaves medical staff at greater risk of developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
3. Healthier medical staff are better able to deal with the pandemic and its many pressures

An investigation among 1563 medical staff during the COVID-19 outbreak showed that 33% suffered from insomnia. Meanwhile, in a group of 123 pediatric healthcare workers in Wuhan, 38% suffered from sleep disturbance while 20% had anxiety and depression.

Clearly, poor sleep or the lack of it has a dramatic impact on the mental and physical health of medical staff. To find out how to alleviate the situation, researchers in another study put VRH to work.

They devised and distributed a questionnaire to medical staff, and also used the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS) to assess subjects’ sleep disorders.

VRH was delivered via an iPad with VR headsets on head-mounted displays. Participants could choose from 3 VR scenarios:

i. a moonlit scene in a lotus pond
ii. hazy scenes of the sea and a moonlit night
iii. scenes of sea and sky merged into one

There were thirty-six participants in total, 28 females and 8 males. The results showed rapid improvements in sleep quality, with the researchers stating the reasons why they believed this to be the case:

1. The participants accepted the virtual scene immediately without having to imagine it. It is thought that this helps promote greater engagement than can be achieved using traditional hypnosis.

2. VRH reduced negative emotions such as anxiety and depression, both contributing factors to sleep problems. This improvement in mood is thought to translate into better quality sleep. Participants reported less depression after VRH sessions as well.

3. Fatigue and exhaustion can lead to disturbed sleep, while the VR environment helps provide relaxation and a reduction in stress levels. Letting participants choose their own VR scenarios helps them relax and goes some way towards improving their sleep regime.

Of course, the virtual reality part of the technology is simply a way to get the subject engaged quickly and fully. It’s only when you add hypnosis to the mix that so many other things become possible.

How Virtual Reality Hypnosis Can Help COVID-19 Medical Frontliners


If you were to make a list of the issues that hypnosis can help alleviate, it would be a very long list indeed.

It’s already being used on its own to help treat problems relating to pain management, weight control, fighting phobias, beating bad habits, recovering from trauma, depression and OCD, insomnia, stress and anxiety.

And that’s just a few of the possibilities. Teaming hypnosis up with this new technology means that even more people will be able to benefit from its far-reaching and near-limitless applications.

Where frontline medical workers are concerned, virtual reality hypnosis offers a faster session than might normally be available in a typical hypnotherapist’s office.

But can virtual reality hypnosis offer greater benefits to frontline medical staff than hypnosis alone? Here are some of the potential advantages:

  • VRH makes it easier to immerse yourself in an “internal” landscape, which means the hypnotic element of the procedure can get to work more quickly
  • VR distracts the subject from outside influences, making it easier to switch off from the outside world
  • Technically speaking, VR scenarios can be almost anything and can be tailor-made to the meet the needs of individual subjects
  • Once the software/hardware is set up, there’s no need for a hypnotherapist to be present. Scripts can be recorded, meaning that sessions can take place as often as necessary
  • Having this kind of apparatus at your disposal means sessions can take place in situ, which also means a faster turnaround and less time that medical staff need to be away from their duties

Hypnosis and sleep improvement techniques are already widely available. Adding virtual reality to the mix gives a whole new dimension to this kind of treatment.

So what does the future hold for this incredibly powerful combination?

>> Related Article: What Is Virtual Reality Hypnosis? VR Hypnosis As A Breakthrough Technology

Some Perspectives & Ways Forward

There’s no question that VRH works better at improving sleep quality than any one technique on its own. And this is only the beginning.

Whenever new technology comes along, it tends to replace what came before it and make it redundant. That hasn’t happened in this case, however.

That’s because hypnosis is not a stagnant field but one that continues to evolve and develop to meet the changing needs of people.

The second study above appeared in the Journal of Translational Science promoting VRH technology for frontline medical staff during the COVID-19 crisis. When they analyzed their data, they discovered that:

  • The technology reduces contact time between psychological professionals and team members, helping to curb the spread of the virus
  • The technology can be used to tackle several symptoms at once, such as stress, anxiety, fatigue and insomnia
  • The technology can contribute to relaxation and symptom relief without the stigma of having to undergo psychotherapy

Much of the research highlights the need to “mitigate poor sleep quality and its associated risks” – especially since the impact of COVID-19 is likely to be with us for some time.

As mentioned earlier, frontline workers traditionally experience poor sleep quality, and the pandemic has made things even worse. It’s also known that there is a notable correlation between sleep disorders and mental health issues.

This has the potential to impact healthcare personnel caring for COVID-19 patients. And since medical staff are at the forefront of any emergency such as this, it makes sense that solutions have to be found to ensure their ability to function.

Technology-assisted therapies such as virtual reality hypnosis have been proven to improve sleep quality while reducing anxiety and relieving fatigue. It’s likely that new ways to use hypnosis will continue to develop to meet whatever crisis or emergency lies around the corner.

Conclusions & Key Takeaways

Getting enough sleep has always been an issue for frontline medical staff, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse.

Researchers wanted to find out how this affected their sleep quality as well as their physical and mental health.

They used virtual reality hypnosis (VRH) to try to improve the quality of sleep for medical workers, while at the same time helping them overcome fatigue and anxiety.

VRH is the combination of hypnosis with virtual reality (VR) technology, delivering a hypnotic induction while subjects explore a 3D immersive world through a VR headset.

The virtual reality environment makes it easier to “see” an imaginary landscape than might be possible with traditional hypnosis.

Participants were able to choose from various VR scenarios including:

i. a moonlit scene in a lotus pond
ii. hazy scenes of the sea and a moonlit night
iii. scenes of sea and sky merged into one

Research teams noted that the VR helped distract the subjects, making it easier to deliver the hypnotic suggestions. They also pointed out that the technology improved participants’ moods, reducing anxiety and depression.

The VRH apparatus can be used in situ, meaning staff don’t have to leave the building to undergo treatment. This cuts down on therapy time and gives more time for them to be with their COVID-19 patients.

It seems clear that technology-assisted hypnosis therapies such as VRH can improve sleep quality and will probably play a major role in these kinds of treatments in the future.

The post Virtual Reality Hypnosis And COVID-19: How VR Hypnosis Improves Sleep Quality Of COVID-19 Medical Staff appeared first on Hypnosis Training Academy.

This post first appeared on Hypnosis Training Academy - Learn Hypnosis | Hypnotherapy Training, please read the originial post: here

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Virtual Reality Hypnosis And COVID-19: How VR Hypnosis Improves Sleep Quality Of COVID-19 Medical Staff


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