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Neurofeedback For Better Sleep – How It Can Help Insomnia

Neurofeedback training helps you learn to change the way your brain functions. This can help you get better sleep without taking pills.

In a placebo-controlled study, sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) neurofeedback improved subjective sleep. Participants in this study reported a decrease in their ISI score below the insomnia threshold after just one session.

How It Works

The good news is that insomnia can be corrected with neurofeedback. Neurofeedback Toronto, which uses sensors to provide real-time feedback on your brainwave frequencies, teaches your brain how to self-regulate and create healthier patterns that facilitate a better night’snight’s sleep.

People with insomnia often have elevated levels of Delta and Beta brainwaves. These can be seen on a QEEG (brain map) and are associated with increased levels of hyperarousal. Neurofeedback can reduce these patterns by rewarding your brain for creating more optimal brain wave activity.

This is accomplished through open-loop audio-visual stimulation (AVS). Studies have shown that neurofeedback for insomnia improves sleep and reduces daytime dysfunction. This is without medication use and with long-lasting effects, even after your sessions. Many clients with insomnia report sleeping better than they have in years and feeling more rested. This is especially true of those who have tried other therapies and lifestyle changes to no avail.

Getting Started

Sleep problems can have a huge impact on the quality of your life. If you’ve tried changing your bedtime routine, reading a book before bed, or drinking chamomile tea, nothing has helped. It may be time to consider neurofeedback training.

Studies of closed-loop neurofeedback (NFS) have shown that increased sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) activity is associated with reduced insomnia symptoms and improved subjective sleep quality. SMR neurofeedback involves measuring brainwaves with an EEG headset and using a computer program to display real-time feedback based on the results of those measurements.

The client receives visual and auditory rewards when they produce SMR, with negative feedback for undesired signals. This helps to train the brain to minimize hyperarousal, which can lead to insomnia. SMR neurofeedback also increases sleep spindle density, which promotes deeper sleep and a more restful waking state. In addition, the benefits of neurofeedback for insomnia last long after treatment has ended. Unlike medication, which often has side effects, this non-invasive approach does not interfere with your normal function.

The First Session

Often the first change that clients report after neurofeedback training is better sleep. This is because the brain is rewarded for creating healthier patterns of activity that promote good rest. A 75-year-old client reported that she “slept like a baby” for the first time in 25 years after her neurofeedback sessions, and parents of children with ADHD frequently comment on how much easier it is to get their kids to fall asleep.

Moreover, neurofeedback is an excellent alternative to sleeping pills because the results are long-lasting and do not depend on continued medication use. Medication for sleep disorders can often lead to unpleasant side effects, such as changes in appetite or attention problems, daytime drowsiness, and dependence on the medication.

The number of sessions required to see significant results will vary from person to person. However, studies using sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) neurofeedback have shown that a minimum of 20 sessions is needed to improve sleep duration and onset latency.

The Second Session

Once the brain is re-trained to function in more healthy ways, sleep usually improves. It is common for clients to report falling asleep easier and sleeping better after neurofeedback training, often without medication.

Neurofeedback shows the client real-time feedback of their brainwaves via audio and visual cues. When the brain produces the desired brainwaves, a reward is delivered to encourage the brain to maintain those healthy brain functions.

The goal is to teach the brain to self-regulate rather than rely on medication. While many medications for insomnia have side effects, neurofeedback is an ideal alternative for those looking to avoid them. The results gained from neurofeedback are also permanent, whereas most sleep medications must be continually taken to continue working. 

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