How much sleep do I really need? It’s an age old question that gets a different response depending on who you’re asking. How old is the person? What about the quality of sleep? How long do I need to stay in each sleep phase? With all of these factors it’s quite overwhelming. One of the most important aspects of sleep that I’ll focus on is the quality, not quantity, of sleep. Tons of people get 7-8 hours of sleep but wake up not feeling rested.
A new neurological study is finding that people who get less REM sleep, or dream stage sleep, are at a higher risk of developing dementia later in life. One of the causes of getting less REM sleep is insomnia. There is a lot of research and evidence in the medical community that links lack of sleep with increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and now dementia. If getting poor quality sleep can lead to all of these problems, how can we improve sleep so that we never sacrifice our health?
First, it needs to be determined what is causing the lack of quality sleep in the first place. Many people suffer from migraines or chronic pain in other parts of their bodies that interferes with their ability to fall soundly asleep. Others can get the most out of their sleep phases because they have a lot of anxiety and “mind chatter” keeping them up at night. Mind chatter is the feeling that your brain is always “ON.”
The brain sends us these signals, for better or worse, to indicate whether there is tissue damage (pain) or a possible change in emotional state or activation (anxiety and mind chatter). If we could train the brain to diminish the pain signals or to maintain a more stable state, then the result would be better quality sleep. Medications can only do so much when it comes to quality sleep and even then you have to worry about the side effects. Therapy can be very beneficial for processing what’s at the foundation of the “mind chatter.”
Neurofeedback has also shown to be beneficial with training the brain to self-regulate and alleviate the symptoms of insomnia. The non-invasive training uses computer software to guide your brainwaves into a more effective range. What does that even mean? Well, this equates to less pain, a calmer mind, and deeper, more restorative sleep. The Better Brain Center tracks our own outcomes with neurofeedback and clients struggling with sleep and found 77% of clients improved with the treatment. There is growing research expanding on the efficacy of neurofeedback and sleep disorders.
For more information on neurofeedback and how The Better Brain Center can assist, you can reach us by calling 833-964-8483 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Derek Russell, MA, NCC – Neurofeedback Therapist, Technician at The Better Brain Center. If you would like to get in touch with Derek please call 833-964-8483 or email email@example.com.