Sleep is a necessary part of each and every day! It is vital to replenish our energy daily, and most healing takes place while our body sleeps. Thus, if we don’t get enough sleep, our health suffers. It makes sense that sleep would be a priority for all of us.
Unfortunately, sleep disturbances affect much of America. More than 40 million Americans suffer annually from chronic, long-term sleep disorders. Additionally, another 20 million Americans experience occasional sleep problems. The economic costs of sleep problems are staggering! According to a study in 2010, the annual direct cost of sleep-related problems in America is $16 billion, with an additional $50-$100 billion in indirect costs related to accidents, litigation, property destruction, hospitalization, and death. It is estimated that more than 100,000 vehicle accidents annually in America are sleep-related.
Most sleep disorders can summarily be placed into two categories: dyssomnias (difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or having excessive sleepiness) and parasomnias (behavioral abnormalities which occur during sleep).
- Insomnia- the inability either to fall asleep or to remain asleep during the course of the night. Insomnia can be further classified into:
- Sleep onset insomnia- taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, followed by a relatively normal night of sleep.
- Sleep maintenance insomnia- waking up one or more times during the course of the night and taking more than 30 minutes to fall back asleep after each awakening.
- Early-morning awakening insomnia- waking up before sunrise and not getting back to sleep.
- Sleep Apnea- this is the experience of the intermittent cessation of breathing. The most common form of this condition is obstructive sleep apnoea, in which the air passages become blocked, causing respiratory distress.
- Restless Legs Syndrome- the feeling of creeping, crawling, prickling, burning, itching, or tugging sensations in the legs while resting or sitting for extended periods of time. Sometimes the arms may be affected as well.
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder- This often coexists with restless leg syndrome and is characterized by sudden, involuntary, and repetitive leg jerking that occurs at the onset of sleep as well as during the course of sleep.
- Narcolepsy- a chronic sleep disorder in which patients experience daytime sleepiness so extreme that they fall asleep at inappropriate times for anywhere from a few seconds to 30 minutes.
- Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome- a condition in which the person chronically stays up quite late, usually until 3 to 4am, and then sleeps all morning, getting up at 10 to 11am.
- Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome- a condition in which the person falls asleep very early in the evening, usually between 6 and 9pm, and wakes up before sunrise, sometimes as early as 1am.
- Hypersomnia- a collection of sleep disorders in which someone sleeps too much, either for prolonged periods at night or during the day.
- Sleepwalking- involves the action of walking during the night (usually during stage 4 sleep), typically lasting between 5 and 15 minutes.
- Night Terrors- the experience of suddenly letting out a piercing scream or cry during sleep. Some people can even leap out of bed, run out of the house, or do harm to themselves or others. The sufferer usually has no recollection of the event.
- REM Behavior Disorder- during REM sleep (when our muscles normally become paralyzed) the sufferer physically engages in their dream without being actively conscious of their behavior.
- Rhythmic Movement Disorder- this involves the actions of head banging, head rolling, body rocking, body rolling or other repetitive movements during sleep.
- Bruxism- this consists of the grinding of teeth during sleep.
Traditional treatment for sleep disorders varies, depending upon the specific condition from which the child or adult suffers. Many treatment programs include medications to induce sleep or control behaviors during the sleep cycle. Specific breathing aids, including CPAP machines to assist with sleep apnea symptoms are common. Unfortunately, these can be quite restrictive and uncomfortable, and many users decide to live with their symptoms rather than uses these aids daily. Exercise and diet also play a role in establishing a healthy treatment plan for those suffering from sleep disorders.
Recently, neurofeedback has been utilized as a very effective treatment modality for various sleep disorders. There is a brain function component related to sleep disturbances, and as these are addressed and corrected with neurofeedback, sleep naturally improves and sleep issues are abated. In fact, because so many conditions related to brainwave activity affect sleep either directly or indirectly, it is very common for those in neurofeedback therapy for conditions other than sleep disturbances to comment during the course of treatment that they are sleeping more soundly and waking more rested.
How We Can Help:
Our clients regularly comment on the improvement in their sleep during the course of neurofeedback therapy. Regardless of age or condition for which they seek treatment, improved sleep is a typical positive side effect of the healing that takes place as the brainwaves return to a normal state. Just recently, a client commented to me:
“I am sleeping so much better now. I used to wake up and smoke a cigarette at least 3 times every night. Now, I may wake up once, but I usually sleep through the night. I am realizing how much better my anxiety and depression have been since my sleep has improved, too.”
At Brain Changers, our goal is to help our clients find improved physical, emotional, and spiritual health. We begin with an initial evaluation, where we gather a full assessment of issues and symptoms. We then run a QEEG, or brain map, to determine the areas of the brain that are functioning outside of the norm. This data, along with the symptomology gathered from the client, is then used to develop a treatment plan for neurofeedback therapy and counseling. We monitor symptoms and improvements closely during treatment, and we tackle unhealthy thought and behavior patterns that have developed as a result of the issues and disorders experienced. When treatment is complete, the client is healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Symptoms are significantly diminished, sleep is improved, the need for medication is greatly reduced or eliminated, and the client is ready to face the future with hope and healthier coping skills!