Neurofeedback and Sleep
Sleep is one of the most healing things that we can do for our bodies and brains. Restorative sleep helps you rest from the day before and recharge for the day ahead. But when this type of deep sleep does not happen, it can lead to a whole host of health issues like lack of focus, brain fog, and memory problems.
You may have tried many things to improve your sleep, but have you ever incorporated your brain into the equation? The human body has many parts, it doesn’t work in isolation. When we approach health with more of a collaborative effort, addressing the whole body, we’ll find better results.
There’s an estimated 80 different categories of sleep issues. You may be able fall asleep, but then wake up throughout the night. Maybe you can’t get to sleep at all. Or perhaps you’re taking medications which don’t allow for a deep restful sleep.
A common issue is sleep apnea. If you are not getting enough oxygen, then your brain will trigger a fight or flight response and cause you to wake up. One of the reasons for sleep apnea is oral ties, which are basically an excess of connective tissues between the tongue and the jaw, or the jaw and the lips. This literally means that the tongue is not able to move forward. An early warning sign is latching issues, which turn into feeding issues, which turn into speech issues. A reason for this can be a genetic mutation on the MTHFR gene. Basically, this can be a physical cause of oxygen issues related to sleep apnea. However, it can be fixed with laser work, combined with exercises and stretching.
Another reason you may wake up during the night is that your brain is worried that you’re going to forget things. Part of the reason we sleep is to consolidate all the information that you’ve taken in during the day. It’s supposed to get processed from short-term memory into long-term memory. So this backup can cause inflammation and the information won’t stay with you. Your brain wants to be metabolically efficient. It doesn’t want to lose this information, so it wakes you up multiple times throughout the night with an influx of stress chemicals to remind you what it doesn’t want to forget.
Stress can also contribute to sleep issues. If too much valuable real estate in your brain is being taken over by chronic stress patterns, you can find yourself in a pattern of poor sleep as well. And it doesn’t have to be a long pattern, stress lasting as little as 90 or less days is considered chronic.
Everything generates waste, and the processes in your brain are no different. We get exposed to so much information in a day, and so much brain chemistry is happening. When we sleep, it’s supposed to be a cleansing experience for your brain. If that restorative sleep is not happening, it’s like a garbage can getting filled up and never dumped out. Over time, there is an accumulation of toxins that can lead to an inflammatory response, a metabolic reaction in the brain that will cause poor sleep.
The brain is always looking for the pattern so it can be efficient metabolically. The more we practice anything, we can generate different patterns. Unfortunately, this means that it is easy to get caught in a pattern of any type of sleep issue. We get caught in a negative feedback loop and the situation gets worse and worse over time. So if you’re caught in that pattern, you need to practice a new one in order to break it.
At Connect My Brain, we utilize a whole-body approach. We understand that the brain and body are networks that are constantly in communication. Healing comes from addressing the whole body, not just one element. We do this first by helping you become aware, and then helping you to make a change.
First, we conduct a brain map. This allows us to actually take a look at your brainwaves and see if you have enough of the slower alpha and theta brainwaves. We especially take a look at delta, as that is the brainwave most closely associated with sleep. Too little of these brain waves can cause poor sleep, but too much can cause brain fog and lack of focus.
From there, it’s time for neurofeedback – the art of self-regulation. The brain is a network that is always communicating. With neurofeedback, we can focus on the parts that need strengthening and optimize the brain as a whole. It is personalized self-regulation, which means that it is unique to the individual and whatever specific issues they may be facing.
One of the easiest ways to improve sleep at home is to have better sleep hygiene. Here are some examples of the behavioral changes that can be made:
- Turn off your devices at night to improve circadian rhythm
- Write things down before you sleep to calm your mind
- Increase light in the morning and decrease it at night to improve melatonin production
- Lower the temperature in the morning and increase it at night to relax your body
- Allow for personal time, and give yourself breaks to practice your slower brainwave patterns
- Learn to breathe with the entirety of your lungs to improve oxygen intake
- Evaluate drug and alcohol intake to see if that could be a contributing factor
- Exercise when you can, but morning is the best time
- Get some sunlight as early in the day as possible
If you’d like to book a consultation, or if you have any questions, call us at (678) 501-5172
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