Neurofeedback for Insomnia

Treatment for Sleep Disorders

Treatment for Sleep Disorders


The Background of Insomnia

There are a myriad of reasons why people can't sleep at night. Psychiatric and medical conditions, like anxiety or sleep apnea are among the most common illnesses that create poor sleep. With anxiety, the brain has difficulty shutting off, so thoughts race, bad feelings take over, and the person may become so stressed that sleep is elusive.

In the case of apnea, the person's respiratory rhythm is interrupted by periods of either shortness of breath, or cessation of breathing, which jolts the brain awake out of fear that it's not going to get enough oxygen. Lack of oxygen to the brain, or anoxia, means death. 

Sleep is essential for so many things. It helps with concentration, judgement, good decision making, and many other executive functions that help us be effective throughout the day. The side effects on the brain of little to no sleep are extensive as well, outside of poor functioning throughout the day.

Memories aren't consolidated, healing doesn't occur the way it should, and the brain actually starts eating itself when a person doesn't get enough sleep. I'm not joking about that last part! Fun fact: staying up for an extended period of time was actually removed from the Guinness Book of World Records as a category because lack of sleep is so dangerous for the body! 

If you have insomnia, please don’t be alarmed. Your brain is not eating itself, but you’re likely feeling the effects of consistent lack of sleep. Neurofeedback can help.  

Neurofeedback for Insomnia

Generally, when someone experiences poor sleep it's often the result of a low alpha response. When you close your eyes, alpha should increase, creating a feeling of alert calmness, which then helps you cycle into theta, and eventually fall asleep.

However, when something is interrupting your alpha rhythms, whether it's mental illness, a trauma response, chronic pain, or apnea, falling or staying asleep becomes difficult, sometimes impossible.

In my experience, sleep is one of the first things to improve in neurofeedback training, regardless of what rhythm or section of the brain we are working on. As the EEG dynamics stabilize, people often require more sleep, and it's a good sign that the training is working.

In Alpha/Theta training, we can teach the brain to produce more alpha waves on it's own, simply by providing the brain with feedback every time it spontaneously produces the alpha rhythm, which helps improve sleep, anxiety, concentration, and focus. 


Go back to the main Neurofeedback page. 

Watch a Video about Neurofeedback for Insomnia