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“... several studies have demonstrated that SMR neurofeedback results in increased sleep spindle density during sleep (Hoedlmoser et al., 2008; Sterman et al., 1970), decreased sleep latency (Hoedlmoser et al., 2008) increased total sleep time (Cortoos et al., 2010; Hoedlmoser et al., 2008) and sleep improvements in ADHD (Arns, 2011). Research has also demonstrated that melatonin results in an increased sleep spindle density (Dijk et al., 1995) and decreased sleep latency (Van der Heijden et al., 2007), suggesting overlap in the working mechanisms of SMR neurofeedback and melatonin.”
Arns, M. & Kenemans, J.L. (2012). Neurofeedback in ADHD and insomnia: Vigilance Stabilization through sleep spindles and circadian networks. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.10.006
Difficulty with sleep: delayed sleep onset, waking during the night, waking early, waking unrested all result in a degree of sleep deprivation with resulting consequences for one’s physical, mental, emotional and relational health, as well as negatively impacting work and productivity. Sleep deprivation produces fatigue, problems with concentration, focus, memory, low motivation, high blood pressure, increases in errors, accidents and depression. Lack of sleep can have serious health consequences. It is linked with cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, work-related injuries, and driving accidents.
There are common patterns of brain activity underlying sleep disorders, and it is not unusual for them to clear up in the midst of addressing other problems using neurofeedback interventions. This has happened often in our practice. We are addressing depression, and the client comments that she just got the best night of sleep she’s had in years. This is because neurotherapy stabilizes the brain, rebalances it, and many anomalies we address overlap with those underlying sleep issues.
When we reinforce the sensory motor rhythm as we often do for ADHD, this increases sleep spindles and K complexes that can resolve problems with sleep onset, sleep restlessness, and waking. Similarly, while addressing a cause of anxiety and poor stress tolerance in the right posterior area of the brain by reducing high beta and encouraging slower brain waves, we are also addressing another common cause of sleep disturbances. If there are slow waves in the front of the head, suppressing them helps with sleep onset.
We combine neurofeedback training with other modalities to achieve a synergistic approach to better sleep and have been very happy with our successes. And of course, good sleep is foundational to everything else and when we can resolve that problem, it supports resolution of other disorders. There has been some controversy in the research literature recently about whether neurofeedback training is any more effective with insomnia than sham neurofeedback, yet there is very strong clinical and research support for its efficacy* and we have had good success with it. When we first do a brain map to locate the specific location of the problem, tailor the neurofeedback training to the individual, then use active neurofeedback to augment traditional neurofeedback training, we substantially increase our efficacy.