Harnessing Brain Power to Improve Sleep
Written by Dr. Keri Chiappino, DC DACNB BCN
Millions of people around the world struggle with insomnia, a condition that significantly impacts their daily lives and overall well-being. In the quest for natural and effective solutions, an innovative approach has emerged: neurofeedback for insomnia. This treatment option, born from modern advancements in neuroscience, offers a ray of hope for those seeking natural and effective solutions for their sleeping troubles1.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Prevalence of Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects about 10-30% of adults globally.2 It can manifest as difficulty falling asleep, frequent wake-ups during the night, or waking up too early and being unable to fall back asleep. This condition can leave individuals feeling tired, irritable, and unable to function optimally in their daily activities.
In our Smithtown Neurofeedback and Chiropractic office we see many patients whose daily lives have been affected by insomnia. In many cases, insomnia is just one of the conditions that the patient complains about. It is frequently associated with anxiety disorders, ADHD, fibromyalgia pain, foggy brain, chronic pain and stress. Through the holistic insomnia treatment provided at our office, our patients are able to overcome insomnia and find the restful sleep that their bodies need.
Identifying Imbalances through QEEG
To effectively address insomnia, it is crucial to identify the underlying imbalances within the brain. In our office, we rely on the findings of Quantitative Electroencephalogram (QEEG), a non-invasive brain mapping technique, which provides valuable insights into the brain’s electrical activity and helps identify specific areas that may be contributing to sleep disturbances.
By analyzing the QEEG results, Dr. Keri Chiappino, DC DACNB BCN, a board-certified Neurofeedback provider, can pinpoint irregularities in brainwave patterns associated with insomnia, such as overactivity in the beta frequency range or decreased theta activity during sleep.
How Neurofeedback Works for Insomnia
Neurofeedback is a cutting-edge therapeutic technique that utilizes real-time feedback of brainwave activity to train the brain to function more efficiently. It is a safe, non-invasive, and drug-free approach that harnesses the brain’s inherent ability to regulate itself. Here’s how neurofeedback works specifically for insomnia3:
- Assessment: The first step in the neurofeedback for insomnia treatment process involves conducting a comprehensive assessment, including a thorough medical history and QEEG analysis. This assessment provides valuable insights into the specific brainwave patterns that may be contributing to insomnia.
- Treatment Plan: Based on the assessment results, a personalized treatment plan is created. The neurofeedback sessions are tailored to address the identified imbalances in brainwave activity. Each person’s treatment plan is unique, taking into consideration their specific needs and goals.
- Training Sessions: During neurofeedback sessions, individuals typically sit in a comfortable chair and have sensors placed on their scalp to monitor brainwave activity. They then watch a movie, while receiving real-time feedback through visual and auditory cues.
- Feedback and Reinforcement: As individuals engage in neurofeedback activities, the computer software detects and analyzes their brainwave patterns in real-time. When the brain produces desired patterns associated with healthy sleep, it receives positive feedback in the form of a reward, with the image being bright and the sound being ideal. Over time, the brain learns to self-regulate and produce these healthier patterns more consistently.
- Brain Training and Regulation: Neurofeedback helps train the brain to optimize its functioning by reinforcing the production of targeted brainwave patterns associated with deep relaxation, stress reduction, and improved sleep quality. With repeated practice, the brain becomes increasingly adept at maintaining these beneficial patterns even outside of the training sessions.
Benefits of Neurofeedback for Insomnia
Neurofeedback has shown promising results in improving sleep quality4, reducing sleep latency, and decreasing the frequency of nighttime awakenings. By targeting the specific brainwave imbalances identified through QEEG analysis, neurofeedback helps promote relaxation, enhance sleep architecture, and regulate circadian rhythms. Additionally, many individuals who have undergone neurofeedback therapy for insomnia report added benefits of reduced anxiety, improved mood, and increased overall well-being.
While many individuals have experienced significant improvements in their sleep quality through neurofeedback therapy for insomnia, it’s important to note that results can vary. Each person’s experience with neurofeedback is unique, and factors such as individual brain patterns and lifestyle can influence the effectiveness of the treatment. We encourage those interested in this therapy to have an open discussion with our specialist to set realistic expectations and understand that neurofeedback is a part of a holistic approach to improving sleep health.
Frequently Asked Questions about Neurofeedback Therapy for Insomnia
What is neurofeedback therapy and how does it work for treating insomnia?
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive therapy that uses real-time displays of brain activity to teach self-regulation of brain function. For insomnia, it specifically targets brainwave patterns associated with sleep disturbances, training the brain to achieve and maintain states conducive to healthy sleep.
How effective is neurofeedback in treating chronic insomnia compared to traditional treatments?
While individual results can vary, neurofeedback has shown promising outcomes in many cases of chronic insomnia. It’s particularly beneficial for those seeking a drug-free alternative. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution and should be considered alongside other treatments.
Are there any side effects or risks associated with using neurofeedback for insomnia?
Neurofeedback is generally considered safe with minimal risks. Unlike medication, it doesn’t involve chemicals or invasive procedures. Some individuals might experience temporary fatigue or a change in sleep patterns initially, but these typically resolve as the brain adjusts.
How long does it typically take to see improvements in sleep patterns with neurofeedback therapy?
The time to see improvements can vary. Some patients notice changes within a few sessions, while others may need more time, depending on individual brain patterns and the severity of insomnia.
Can neurofeedback therapy cure insomnia, or does it just manage the symptoms?
Neurofeedback doesn’t claim to ‘cure’ insomnia but rather helps manage and alleviate its symptoms. It trains the brain to adopt healthier patterns that can lead to improved sleep over time.
Is neurofeedback a suitable treatment for all types of insomnia, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep?
Neurofeedback can be effective for various types of insomnia, including trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The treatment is tailored to address specific brainwave patterns related to each individual’s sleep issues.
What does a typical neurofeedback session for insomnia involve, and how many sessions are usually required?
A typical session involves placing sensors on the scalp to monitor brainwaves while the patient relaxes, often watching a screen. The number of sessions varies depending on the severity of the patient’s condition, their current lifestyle, and other personal factors.
How does neurofeedback therapy for insomnia differ from other sleep therapies like CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia)?
Unlike CBT-I, which focuses on changing sleep habits and attitudes about sleep, neurofeedback directly targets the neurological basis of sleep disturbance. It’s a more direct approach to altering brain function.
Can neurofeedback be used in conjunction with other treatments for insomnia, such as medication or lifestyle changes?
Yes, neurofeedback can be used alongside other treatments. It’s often part of a holistic approach that might include lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, or even medication in some cases.
Are the results from neurofeedback therapy for insomnia long-lasting, or will treatment need to be ongoing?
Many patients experience long-lasting improvements. The goal of neurofeedback is to train the brain to maintain healthy patterns independently, but some individuals might benefit from occasional ‘booster’ sessions.
Neurofeedback Therapy: Holistic Insomnia Treatment
Neurofeedback offers an exciting avenue for individuals seeking relief from insomnia. By harnessing the brain’s innate capacity for self-regulation, neurofeedback targets specific imbalances within the brainwaves to promote healthy sleep patterns. With personalized treatment plans based on QEEG analysis, neurofeedback has the potential to transform sleep quality and overall well-being for those struggling with insomnia. If you or a loved one are looking for a drug-free and effective insomnia treatment near Smithtown NY, we encourage you to explore the possibilities that neurofeedback can offer. Schedule an intro consultation at our office or book your initial QEEG appointment to get started on a wellness journey to a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.
Remember, a good night’s sleep is not just a dream – it can become your reality with neurofeedback!
Neurofeedback for Insomnia and Sleep Improvement: Current Research and Studies
- Hammer, B. U., Colbert, A. P., Brown, K. A., & Ilioi, E. C. (2011). Neurofeedback for Insomnia: A Pilot Study of Z-Score SMR and Individualized Protocols. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. ↩︎
- Roth, T. (2007). Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 3(5 Suppl), S7–S10. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine.
- “Neurofeedback for Insomnia: Current State of Research.” World Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 11, no. 10, 19 Oct. 2021, pp. 897–914. PubMed Central, ↩︎
- Garcia, D., Gevirtz, R., Gunkelman, J., & Lu, H. C. (2020). Neurofeedback for Severe Insomnia: An Uncontrolled Pilot Study. SSRN Electronic Journal. ↩︎
About the Author
Dr. Keri Chiappino, DC DACNB BCN
Dr. Keri Chiappino offers a unique, expanded approach to alternative healthcare. With the combination of neurological, orthopedic and chiropractic care, Dr. Chiappino works to restore normal nerve function to the body, promoting optimum health and wellness. Dr. Chiappino has distinguished herself as one of 1000 doctors worldwide achieving Diplomatic status on the American Chiropractic Neurological Board (ACNB), with more than 1000 hours in Chiropractic Neurological coursework. In addition to traditional Chiropractic and Chiropractic Neurological care, Dr. Chiappino also offers BrainCore neurofeedback therapy and our Smithtown office is an authorized BrainCore neurofeedback clinic in Smithtown, NY.