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A recent study by Bekker et al. (2021) investigated the effect of infraslow neurofeedback therapy on sleep and identified significant positive change in sleep duration, latency, efficiency and overall sleep quality.
A poor night’s sleep can wreak significant damage on physical health, mental health, and emotional well-being. Even one night without sleep can result in feelings of exhaustion, overwhelm and irritability. Multiple nights without sleep can lead to chronic pain, cognitive deficits, and impaired coordination.
Regular, deep sleep is not only restorative and reparative for our bodies and brains, it also helps prevent sickness, helps maintain a healthy body weight, reduces the risk of heart disease, depression, prevents diabetes, reduces the risk of dementia, lowers stress levels, supports a positive social life and promotes good decision-making.
Insomnia affects approximately 1 in 4 Americans each year. In a world where professional and personal pressures make peak performance an important ingredient of success, lack of sleep has become, in the words of Arianna Huffington, “the existential cry of the modern age.”
Many people who suffer from a serious sleep disturbance, including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or sleep apnea turn to psychotropic medication as a way to help them sleep better. These drugs include sedatives, hypnotics, anticonvulsants, and some antidepressants.
Sleeping medications are said to be most effective when used sparingly for short-term situations such as traveling to places with different time zones or recovering from medical procedures such as surgery. In some cases where medication is required by professionals, it is best recommended to combine medication with therapy and healthy lifestyle changes.
ISF Neurofeedback offers an alternative to the prescription medicine paradigm. ISF (or infraslow) neurofeedback has been shown to help our clients improve sleep onset, quality and consistency, helping them feel and perform better. It regulates sleep architecture such that our clients are better able to access regular, restorative sleep.
A recent study by Bekker et al. (2021) investigated the effect of infraslow neurofeedback therapy on sleep. The experimental group participated in 10 sessions of ISF neurofeedback. Compared to the control group without sleep problems (who were also trained with 10 sessions of ISF neurofeedback) the experimental group had statistically significant positive change in sleep duration, latency, efficiency and overall sleep quality. They also had significantly fewer night-time disturbances, needed less medication to sleep, and reported significantly less daytime dysfunction due to sleepiness. They further presented with significant improvement in depression, anxiety and stress scales.
Balt, et al. (2020) demonstrated that ISF neurofeedback reduces anxiety and moves the autonomic nervous system into balance. Further, the infraslow frequencies have been shown to have a direct impact on neurons in the brain that influence our circadian rhythms (Lazar, Dijk et al. 2017), our 24-hour biological clock. As recent research discovered, ISF neurofeedback has a powerful effect on a sense of well-being.
Consistent with the above findings, clients regularly report that after a few sessions of infraslow neurofeedback training, they are better able to fall and stay asleep. The improvements in sleep can have profound effects on our client’s quality of life.
Balt, K., Du Toit, P., Smith, M. L., van Rensburg, C. J. (2020). The effect of infraslow frequency neurofeedback on autonomic nervous system function in adults with anxiety and related diseases. NeuroRegulation, 7(2), 64 – 74. https://doi.org/10.15540/nr.7.2.64
Bekker, M. Balt, K., Bipath, P., Jordaan, J., du Toit, P. (2021). The effect of infra-slow fluctuation neurofeedback training on a cohort of insomnia participants. NeuroRegulation, 8(3), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.15540/nr.8.3.137
Lazar, Z. I., Dijk, D., Lazar, A. S. (2017). Infraslow oscillations in sigma and sleep spindle activity in humans: effect of frequency, topography, sleep history and circadian phase. Sleep Medicine, 40: e181. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2017.11.529