How Long Can You Stay Hypnotized

Written By

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Updated:

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How Long Can You Stay Hypnotized

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Hypnosis is a trance-like state in which a person has a heightened focus and concentration. It’s characterized by extreme relaxation, susceptibility to suggestions, and an altered state of consciousness.

But how long can someone actually stay hypnotized? Here’s an in-depth look.

What Is Hypnosis Exactly?

To understand how long you can stay hypnotized, you first need to understand what hypnosis actually is.

Hypnosis is a natural state of mind where your brain waves become more synchronized and responsive. While hypnotized, you experience increased focus and concentration along with extreme relaxation.

Most people describe hypnosis as feeling very calm and peaceful – almost like daydreaming. Your body feels very still, your breathing slows down, and you tune out external distractions.

You’re aware of what’s happening but feel “zoned out” at the same time.

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Techniques Used For Inducing Hypnosis

There are a variety of techniques used for “hypnotic induction” – which is the process of guiding someone into a hypnotic trance. The most common methods include:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Tensing and relaxing muscle groups to achieve physical relaxation
  • Fixed gaze: Staring at an object while breathing deeply
  • Mental imagery: Visualizing peaceful scenes or locations
  • Auditory: Listening to soothing music or a hypnotist’s voice

A hypnotic subject needs to fully cooperate for these techniques to work effectively. It’s not possible to hypnotize someone against their will.

YouTube video

Levels of Hypnotic Depth

Not all hypnotic trances are the same. Hypnotic depth varies greatly depending on factors like:

  • Suggestibility: How responsive someone is to hypnotic suggestions
  • Absorption: How immersed in imagination and fantasy someone can get
  • Dissociation: Detaching from one’s surrounding or situation

There are generally three levels of hypnotic depth:

Light Hypnosis

  • Heightened suggestibility and imagination
  • Muscle twitches or mild paralysis
  • Dissociation from surroundings

Moderate Hypnosis

  • Loss of awareness of body and time
  • Temporary amnesia
  • Hallucinations

Deep Hypnosis

  • Complete detachment from reality
  • Sensory/memory distortion
  • Loss of voluntary muscle control

The depth reached depends mostly on the individual – not everyone is capable of reaching the deepest levels.

How Long You Can Stay Hypnotized

So how long can someone actually stay in a hypnotic trance? The duration varies greatly:

Hypnotic StateTypical Duration
Light5 minutes to 1 hour
Moderate30 minutes to several hours
Deep1 to 3 hours

As you can see, deep hypnotic trances tend to last the longest – up to 3 hours in some cases. However, this requires advanced hypnotic skill by the hypnotist and high suggestibility of the subject.

Here are some of the main factors affecting duration:

  • Depth of trance: The deeper the level, the longer hypnotic phenomena persist
  • Individual traits: Highly suggestible people sustain effects longer
  • Hypnotist’s technique: Quality of inductions and suggestions impacts longevity
  • Purpose of session: Entertainment shows don’t require deep trances

Generally for therapeutic purposes, sessions run 30-60 minutes on average. Stage entertainment hypnosis is mostly very light, lasting just minutes. Self-hypnosis audio sessions are usually 20-45 minutes long.

waking from hypnosis

Waking From Hypnosis

Waking someone from a hypnotic trance is straightforward for the hypnotist – they simply give a pre-agreed upon trigger, like counting backwards or saying “wake up now.”

The person then emerges feeling refreshed and relaxed – they typically recall the session clearly but may have fuzzy memories of deeper trances. Any disorientation or headache would be extremely rare.

Importantly, you cannot get “stuck” in hypnosis and be unable to wake up. Subjects will always rouse from trances naturally even without a specific exit cue. The mind instinctively returns to normal alertness after some time passes.

Final Thoughts

In summary, hypnotic trances can potentially last for several hours – especially at deeper levels with highly suggestible subjects.

However, most therapeutic and entertainment hypnosis sessions range from only 5 minutes on the low end up to 1 hour on the high end.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of how long someone can remain hypnotized. The duration varies substantially but generally stays under 3 hours total before natural waking occurs.

Just remember - you'll always emerge feeling relaxed and comfortable.

References

  • Green, J.P., & Lynn, S.J. (2000). Hypnosis and suggestion-based approaches to smoking cessation: An examination of the evidence. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Taylor & Francis. Available at: Link
  • Elkins, G.R., & Rajab, M.H. (2004). Clinical hypnosis for smoking cessation: Preliminary results of a three-session intervention. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Taylor & Francis. Available at: Link
  • Becker, P.M. (2015). Hypnosis in the management of sleep disorders. Sleep Medicine Clinics. Available at: Link
  • Gibson, H.B., & Heap, M. (2021). Hypnosis in therapy. Google Books. Available at: Link

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About the author

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Mindful living for a happier, healthier you. I’m a medical writer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with nine years working as a therapist. I hold a Master's in Clinical Psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social connections are vital to mental well-being, and I am dedicated to fostering communities of support and empathy. By sharing knowledge and personal insights, I strive to create a more compassionate world. Social

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