Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

        Historically it has been difficult to treat insomnia, in part because it is hard to define insomnia since the amount of sleep required for each individual varies widely.  Some insomniacs have a terrible time falling asleep.  Others have trouble staying asleep.  Some have very poor quality of sleep.  Some wake early and cannot fall back asleep even if they don’t feel like they slept enough.  Fatigue, memory problems, irritability, depression, impaired performance, and concentration issues may accompany or be the result of these problems.

Additional symptoms and causes of poor sleep include waking up in the morning after a full night’s sleep feeling exhausted, feeling foggy upon awakening, having an anxious or busy mind, teeth grinding, nightmares, vivid dreams, and fears of going to sleep from trauma or abuse.  Neurofeedback can improve regulation of sleep states that typically results in better daytime functioning and more appropriate dream episodes.  People can have an easier time adjusting to daylight savings and time changes.  Sleep walking, nightmares and night sweats can also be helped.  Research has shown that neurofeedback can be very helpful in restoring better sleep regulation.  See Biofeedback Self Regul. 1982 Jun;7(2):223-35.  The treatment of psychophysiologic insomnia with biofeedback: a replication study.”

Poor sleep patterns can also come from physical discomfort, too much mental activity, or fear.  Neurofeedback therapy can help with these causes as well.  However, you may want to try things on your own such as getting a medical checkup to see if you have any hormonal issues, or other conditions that can disrupt sleep such as sleep apnea.  You should try to maintain a regular sleep schedule with the same bedtime and rise time each day.  Regular exercise can help you feel the physical effects that will help induce sound sleep.  You should avoid alcohol, smoking, and caffeine at bedtime.  Limit naps to 20 minutes during the day.  Avoid prolonged use of sleeping pills as it increases sleeplessness in many cases.  The pills only work for a limited time and can lead to tolerance and addiction.

To fall asleep effectively, there are several basic things you can control about your environment and your mental state at bedtime.  Make sure there is no light in your room. To ensure that your mind will not obsess about your tasks for the following workday, you may try making a list of things to do the next day.  Then, 1 or 2 hours before bed, relax and wind down.  Listen to relaxation tapes before bed.  If you like it, use white noise to create rhythmic sounds that encourage sleep and drown out noises that might keep you awake or interrupt a restful sleep.  Finally, make sure the temperature is as comfortable as possible. In addition to neurofeedback, we can discuss your sleep cycle and issues in more detail if necessary.

The other thing that can keep you awake as you eliminate other causes through neurofeedback and healthy habits, can be dealing with unresolved issues.  These problems can often be worked out in talk therapy.

If you’re dealing with an issue like this, I would be happy to help.  Please reach out by calling my office at 310-314-6933 or sending me a private email.