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            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.


Many turn to Neurofeedback Therapy to fight the invisible battle with PTSD

October 11, 2010 (Los Angeles, Calif.) – The nine-year Afghanistan and Iraq war is now being dubbed as America’s longest war. During a recent CNN segment, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on the alarming suicide and hospitalization rates among U.S. troops. There were more soldiers hospitalized in 2009 for mental health issues (17,538) than physical injury (11,156). It was also reported that if a soldier is redeployed, their susceptibility to PTSD increases at a rate of 2.5. Some soldiers reported up to 12 re-deployments during the course of this war.

Soldiers are not the only ones at risk of suffering from PTSD. Children may develop PTSD through experiencing prolonged bullying. After student, Justin Aaberg, committed suicide because of a school bully, a string of teen suicides related to bullying have surfaced. Repeated bullying can cause unnaturally prolonged periods of anxiety which can onset conditions such as PTSD.

People with PTSD can re-experience events through memories or dreams so real, that it’s as though the event is happening again. As traumatic as these re-experiences can be, one will avoid triggers – these can include places, people and emotions. PTSD can also create problems with anxiety, sleep and focus.

The symptoms of PTSD become a part of everyday life for sufferers. However, the symptoms are learned and that means there is hope because many times those with PTSD can ‘un-learn’ the symptoms. This is how one treatment is helping combat the silent war with PTSD.

It’s called Neurofeedback Therapy. The therapy combines the body and mind, a treatment many PTSD experts prefer over one tactic techniques. After experiencing a traumatic event, the brain rewires itself to help us cope. However, prolonged trauma makes our brain assume this is normal and the rewiring becomes more permanent. Neurofeedback Therapy allows one to manipulate the wires back to their normal state.

While hooked up to electrodes, patients play a video game with their mind. After several trainings, clients are able to shift their brain waves with ease, and hence alter their emotional state during triggering situations. As the treatment is highly individualized, a therapist can tailor the treatment to meet every client’s specific needs.

“Neurofeedback Therapy works extremely well in treating the symptoms of PTSD,” said Mindy Fox, a leading neurofeedback therapist in the Los Angeles area. “It curbs anxiety and issues with anger, fear, sleep and focus.”

Most experts agree that treatments such as Neurofeedback Therapy should also be combined with treatments such as talk therapy. “As the stigma of PTSD reduces, I would expect more organizational bodies to support more treatment options as well as make them more readily available to those who need them,” said Fox.

Mindy Fox is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over eighteen years of experience. With a Master of Arts in Psychotherapy, Fox is also certified in somatic experiencing and trained in neurofeedback EEG (also referred to as eeg biofeedback therapy). Her expertise in psychotherapy, EMDR, and neurofeedback helps her treat clients with attention deficit disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, addiction and depression issues. Fox employs body-mind therapy techniques such as EMDR, somatic experiencing, guided imagery, and neurofeedback, along with traditional methods to treat clients of all ages. Fox chairs the State CAMFT Trauma Response Committee and served as President of South Bay/Long Beach CAMFT Chapter.

I’ve joined Twitter with the rest of the planet.  Will try to keep my tweets from being too mundane, but alas therapy has a mundane aspect to it, as it takes many sessions to see results, but this neurofeedback, when it does work, works far faster to deal with trauma and allow you to at least function on a daily basis in your basic needs like sleeping, eating, and interpersonal relations.

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