Sleep & Neurofeedback – 5 Steps to Great Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

You need sleep as much as you need to breathe and eat. While you’re sleeping, your body is busy tending to your physical and mental health and getting you ready for another day.

In children and adolescents, hormones that promote growth are released during sleep. These hormones help build muscle mass, as well as make repairs to cells and tissues. Sleep is vital to development during puberty.

When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain can’t function properly, affecting your cognitive abilities and emotional state. If it continues long enough, it can lower your body’s defenses, putting you at risk of developing chronic illness. The more obvious signs of sleep deprivation are excessive sleepiness, yawning, and irritability. Chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with balance, coordination, and decision-making abilities. You’re at risk falling asleep during the day, even if you fight it. Stimulants like caffeine are not able to override your body’s profound need for sleep.

When you’re sleep deprived, the effects of alcohol consumption are magnified, as is your risk of being involved in an accident. According to Harvard Medical School, studies show that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15 percent. Sleep deprivation is dangerous to your mental and physical health and can dramatically lower your quality of life.

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5 tips to Great Sleep

  1. No caffeine after 4 PM. It takes the body 8+ hours to rid itself of all that “wake up” juice.

  2. No stimulating emotional content 1 hour before bed–scary movies, upsetting or work related emails, enraging political discussions—if it gets your mind racing it has to wait until 7 AM.

  3. Eat dinner at least 3 hours before you plan on going to sleep. And don’t make it your biggest meal of the day. Eating big meals stimulates us—increases blood to digestive tract, intestinal muscles work harder, all of which keeps us awake.

  4. Keep bed for sleep and sex. No working; no computers in bed.

  5. Listen to a guided meditation for 10 minutes when you first get into bed. Here are some from UCLA Meditation for Sleep



how Neurofedback Training helpS with sleep

Read an interview by sleep expert and advanced NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback trainer Edward O'Malley

Dr. O’Malley has been board certified in sleep medicine for fifteen years and an insomnia sleep researcher for the last twenty. He holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology and is one of the nation’s leading experts in sleep medicine. He is also a certified NeurOptimal® trainer. For many years now, Dr. O’Malley has seamlessly incorporated neurofeedback with more traditional techniques to help resolve insomnia issues. Dr. O' Malley findings from his recent study in which he measured neurofeedback’s effectiveness for normalizing sleep disorders like insomnia. 

NEUROPTIMAL RESEARCH ON SLEEP: "Optimal Sleep Using NeurOptimal®-Insomnia Studies", by Edward B. O'Malley, PhD, FAASM Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine Managing Director, Sleep HealthCare of CT Fairfield, CT. 

In 2014, I presented findings from a research study I did that incorporated NeurOptimal neurofeedback with behavioral therapy for insomnia. We found a couple things that were very interesting; first, on average it took only 15-16 NeurOptimal sessions to resolve our patients’ sleep issues. We also found that the neurofeedback training helped our subjects tolerate the standard cognitive behavioral therapy much better.

On average the test group were getting only about 30% of the optimal amount of sleep per night and they typically took up to an hour or more to fall asleep. Many were taking sleep medications. Since the insomnia population overlaps heavily with anxiety and depressive disorders, some of our patients were taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications as well. We left them on their medications while immediately starting them on the neurofeedback.

Traditionally, insomnia is considered “cured” when the patient is brought up to 85% of normal sleep; but honestly, that is still not a normal level of sleep. Almost every one of our patients by the end of the testing fell within “real” normal levels of sleep. They were all falling asleep within 15 minutes, which is also considered well within the normal range.Everyone decreased their meds. By the end of the study, 90% of them went off their meds completely. Some decided to stay on their meds, but their sleep still improved. Read the study here

"Don’t go to bed too early; it won’t work. And most importantly: take time during the day to de-stress."

– Edward B. O'Malley

Schedule a neurofeedback session or rent a home system

Neurofeedback training is an effective and non-invasive alternative method to alleviate symptoms from insomnia, stress, ADHD & PTSD. The NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback system is often used in sleep clinics throughout US & Canada. What is neurofeedback?