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Insomnia

Struggling with Sleeplessness or Insomnia?

Do you lay awake at bedtime, or wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep? There’s nothing worse than not sleeping. Insomnia can disrupt daily life by causing irritability, mood changes, exhaustion, tiredness, and difficulty focusing and remembering. Not only does it make you feel like a zombie — sleep deprivation is believed to be a significant risk factor for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity, and lower sex drive. Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect your appearance.

Many people do not get enough quality sleep, and this can affect their health, well-being, and ability to do everyday activities. Chronic, or recurrent, insomnia is a widespread condition affecting nearly 10-15% of the global population

 

Insomnia: What is it? What are the causes and symptoms?

Insomnia, also known as sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder in which people have trouble sleeping. They may have difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep as long as desired. Insomnia can be classified as episodic, persistent, or recurrent. Insomnia lasting from one month to three months is episodic. If the symptoms last three months or longer, the insomnia is said to be persistent. Insomnia is considered to be recurrent if two or more episodes occur within the space of one year.

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Zone Health & Performance Psychology offers direct billing. Your therapeutic treatments may be covered by your health insurance plan or employee health benefits. Contact us or your health insurance provider about coverage.

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Insomnia Has A Variety of Contributors

Many complex factors contribute to sleeplessness and insomnia. Neurologically, we find that many people are predisposed to sleep disturbances. Research in the field of sleep disorders has indicated that there are several conditions that can predispose individuals to experience insomnia. Examples of these conditions include:

  • Advanced age (insomnia occurs more frequently in older adults)
  • Occurs more frequently among females
  • Having a history of depression

 

There are a number of possible causes of insomnia:

  • Shift work
  • Jet lag or other sleep-wake disturbances
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive worry
  • Stress
  • Grief
  • Intense excitement
  • Poor sleep conditions, such as a bed or bedroom not conducive to sleep
  • Use of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, or stimulants
  • Eating before bedtime
  • Medications or illicit drugs
  • Medication withdrawal
  • A new medication
  • A change in medication
  • Bright-light exposure
  • Excessive daytime sleep
  • Excessive stimulation at bedtime, physical or intellectual (e.g., gaming and/or using electronic devices)
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Conditions that impair breathing
  • Arthritis or other chronic illnesses
  • Heartburn or other gastrointestinal condition
  • Co-occurring disorders or medical illness
  • Stroke
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Aging
  • Menopause

 

Episodic or situational insomnia generally occurs in people who are temporarily experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Environmental disturbances, such as noise
  • Change in environment
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Jet lag or other sleep-wake disturbances
  • Medication side effects
  • Stress

 

These can often be resolved on their own with time. The more complex chronic insomnia often results from factors, including underlying physical or mental disorders. Depression, for one, is a common cause of chronic insomnia. Other underlying causes include asthma, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, arthritis, kidney disease, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, and hyperthyroidism. Chronic insomnia may also be due to behavior problems, including the abuse of caffeine, alcohol, other substances, stress, shift work, or other lifestyle behaviors.

Some behaviors often can exacerbate insomnia, or they may cause sleep difficulty in the first place:

  • Worrying about difficult sleep
  • Excessive caffeine
  • Alcohol intake before bedtime
  • Smoking cigarettes before bedtime
  • Excessive afternoon or evening naps
  • Sleep-wake disruptions

How Does Insomnia Affect My Brain?

Until recently, insomnia was studied from a behavioral perspective, but as this problem grows, new research and insights have been discovered. Recent studies suggest that in cases of insomnia, the brain is unable to process information properly due to cortical hyperarousal. This creates abnormal brainwave function. The brain regulates sleep. The EEG, which shows brainwaves, clearly reflects changes in sleep stages. Training brain patterns using neurofeedback to decrease or increase brainwave activity appears to help the brain normalize sleep. Based on reports from a large number of health professionals, the evidence shows that training brain patterns impacts sleep regulatory mechanisms, and people sleep better.
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Because the brain synthesizes neuronal proteins and produces rejuvenating neurochemicals and neurotransmitters in sleep state, those who go without sleep begin to experience many of the symptoms we have listed above.

Results from qEEG brain mapping consistently demonstrates that Sleep difficulties are usually characterized by a deficiency in slow brainwaves (such as delta and theta) and/or an excessive fast brainwave profile (such as excessive high beta). Slow brainwaves are responsible for putting you to sleep and keeping you asleep. Too much fast brain wave processing signals that our neurological system is in overdrive, unable to calm and relax, due to various reasons. An inability to fall asleep or stay asleep is a problem that compiles and compounds over time.

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How Do We Help Restore Sleep Naturally?

The Centers for Disease Control consider lack of sleep to be a public health problem. Treatment options are consistently expanding and breaking out of the traditional mold of prescription medication. Zone Health & Performance Psychology offers a wide variety of non-pharmaceutical treatment approaches to improve the quantity and quality of our client’s sleep, namely:

Neurofeedback Therapy can make a powerful, positive impact on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. This technology helps to identify the brainwave imbalance that may be contributing to your inability to sleep. By retraining the brain and improving brainwave function in those key areas affected by insomnia, the brain is rewarded through neurofeedback for creating healthier patterns.

As the brain learns new responses, new patterns and pathways develop improving brainwave function as you begin to sleep better and for longer periods of time. Generally, when someone experiences poor sleep it’s often the result of a low alpha response. When you close your eyes, alpha should increase, creating a feeling of alert calmness, which then helps you cycle into theta, and eventually fall asleep.

However, when something is interrupting your alpha rhythms, whether it’s mental illness, a trauma response, chronic pain, or apnea, falling or staying asleep becomes difficult, sometimes impossible. In our experience, sleep is one of the first things to improve in neurofeedback training, regardless of what rhythm or section of the brain we are working on. As the EEG dynamics stabilize, people often require more sleep, and it’s a good sign that the training is working. In Alpha/Theta Neurofeedback training, we can teach the brain to produce more alpha waves on its own, simply by providing the brain with feedback every time it spontaneously produces the alpha rhythm, which helps improve sleep, anxiety, concentration, and focus.

Clinical studies have shown neurofeedback to be an effective, drugless, natural approach to insomnia, especially for people who have struggled for years. If you are ready to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep, for improved energy, health and wellbeing, then it’s time to relax and reward your brain for improved function with Zone Health & Performance Psychology Neurotherapy program.

Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) is a technique that uses pulses of light and sound at specific frequencies to gently and safely guide the brain into various brainwave patterns. Zone Health & Performance Psychology in partnership with Mind Alive Inc. provides our clients portable hand-held AVE devices that can be utilized at the convenience of their home to provide a cutting-edge, non-invasive, drug-free approach to help you improve the onset of sleep with five specially designed sessions: Schumann for Sleep, Meditate to Sleep, Alpha/Theta for Sleep, SMR for Sleep, and Delta.

AVE is most effective for helping people fall asleep by turning off or shutting down the mental “chatter” after a busy day. People who have difficulty falling asleep often have low levels of serotonin. AVE helps boost serotonin which converts to melatonin. AVE sessions used during the day reduce stress and anxiety, which also provides for a better quality of sleep – the more relaxed your day, the more relaxed your sleep. To help you sleep even better – we suggest using blue or a blue-green blend on our multi-color eye sets.

Breathwork Therapy helps to regulate the natural rhythm of your breath. We don’t think much about breathing, mostly because we don’t have to. This autonomic reflex occurs in healthy adults whether or not we consider what’s going on when we inhale or exhale. But breath is a remarkable tool we can use to heal a variety of conditions. Breathwork for insomnia is just one way you can use your own body to heal itself. Breathwork describes a group of exercises that teach you to manipulate your breathing rate and depth with the goal of bringing awareness to your breath and ultimately providing the same benefits you might get from a meditative practice. Clients will be taught a wide variety of different breathing techniques, programs and exercises. For example, clients will start to understand how the simple practice of mouth taping at night to ensure nasal breathing while sleeping can dramatically improve the quality of their sleep. Most formal practices involve 20 minutes to an hour of sustained, rhythmic breathing techniques. It is important to understand that there is a direct interplay between breathing, emotions, and sleep:

  • If your breathing patterns are poor, mood regulation, and sleep will be poor.
  • If sleep quality is inadequate, the emotions are unbalanced, you feel tired and anxious, and breathing is dysfunctional.
  • If the emotions are high, you may have difficulty falling asleep or suffering from insomnia, and breathing will be fast, in the upper chest and effortful.

 

When we engage in deep, slow, diaphragmatic, and rhythmic breathing, we activate the Vagus nerve, turn on our parasympathetic nervous system, and put the brakes on anxiety and stress. Slow breathing also causes the body to produce melatonin. New research also suggests that slow breathing may help orchestrate oscillatory brain activity, providing a mechanism to alter brain waves. This has implications for the potential modulation of brain activity to promote sleep.

With the aid of Apps, guided practices, and technological devices such as Oxygen Advantage Sports Mask, Heart Math’s Emwave Pro, and Thought Technology’s eVu-TPS clients will learn how to self-regulate their nervous system at the convenience of their home so that they can improve the 3 pillars of their Functional breathing:

  1. The mechanics of breathing (diaphragm function)
  2. The biochemistry (exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide)
  3. The cadence (the speed and rhythm of their breath)

 

Breathwork is a powerful way to access your body’s innate intelligence to heal itself. Breathwork, the conscious awareness of your breath, is a practice that is thousands of years old, and while there are many variations, styles and names, all types of breathwork offer the chance for personal transformation through improved mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia-Research suggests that various types of meditation can help improve insomnia, and may even improve sleep quality for those without existing sleep problems. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, appears to improve sleep quality and reduce daytime disturbance in people with chronic insomnia and older adults. The principles of Acceptance and Letting-Go from MBCT (Mindfulness Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy), MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), MBTI (Mindfulness Based Therapy for Insomnia) and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) in conjunction with Neurofeedback, HRV (Heart Rate Variability) Biofeedback Breathing enable our clients not only fall asleep faster, stay asleep but also achieve a more restorative sleep. Our therapeutic program is designed to cultivate a mindful approach to your sleep concerns which in turn, will help guide your personal inquiry into your own sleep needs and the optimal state of mind for initiation of sleep (at the beginning or middle of the night).

In doing so, bring attention to changing your relationship to sleep rather than to the amount of sleep you get each night. As you begin to change this relationship, you might notice an improvement in the quality of your sleep. Later, you will likely see an increase in the amount of sleep you get. This approach requires discipline and consistency but follows the principles of mindfulness outlined below:

  • Beginner’s Mind: Remember that each night is a new night. Be open and try something different! What you have been doing to this point is probably not working well.
  • Non-striving: Sleep is a process that cannot be forced, but instead should be allowed to unfold. Putting more effort into sleeping longer or better is counterproductive.
  • Letting go: Attachment to sleep or your ideal sleep needs usually leads to worry about the consequences of sleeplessness. This is counterproductive and inconsistent with the natural process of letting go of the day to allow sleep to come.
  • Non-judging: It is easy to automatically judge the state of being awake as negative and aversive, especially if you do not sleep well for several nights. However, this negative energy can interfere with the process of sleep. One’s relationship to sleep can be a fruitful subject of meditation.
  • Acceptance: Recognizing and accepting your current state is an important first step in choosing how to respond. If you can accept that you are not in a state of sleepiness and sleep is not likely to come soon, why not get out of bed? Many people who have trouble sleeping avoid getting out of bed. Unfortunately, spending long periods of time awake in bed might condition you to being awake in bed.
  • Trust: Trust your sleep system and let it work for you! Trust that your mind and body can self regulate and self correct for sleep loss. Knowing that short consolidated sleep often feels more satisfying than longer fragmented sleep can help you develop trust in your sleep system. Also, sleep debt can promote good sleep as long as it is not associated with increased effort to sleep.
  • Patience: Be patient! It is unlikely that both the quality and quantity of your sleep will be optimal right away.

 

These are just some ways that mindfulness principles are related to sleep. You might discover other connections between these principles and the process of going to sleep or falling back asleep. We encourage you to explore this for yourself and share your experience throughout this program.

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Quantitative Electroencephalography

We start by using advanced qEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalography) technology that precisely measures your unique brainwave activity. It is performed to investigate brain wave patterns associated with concentration and attention.

The assessment usually takes between 3-4 hours and consists of:

  1. Interview and history. Review of previous assessments if any.
  2. A series of questionnaires and behavior checklists.
  3. Cognitive Performance/Perceptual Assessments.
  4. Psycho-Educational/Executive Assessments.
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Cognitive Assessments With Cambridge Brain Sciences

Zone Health & Performance Psychology is proud to partner with Cambridge Brain Sciences. They are a leading provider of cognitive assessment tools for clinicians and medical practices, providing scientifically-validated cognitive tasks that produce objective measures across multiple cognitive domains.

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Cognitive Assessments

A series of Cognitive Performance tests that provide objective and quantifiable measures of:

  1. Attention: Visual and Auditory, selective attention, vigilance, memory and verbal working memory.
  2. Executive Functioning: Figural Fluency, interference, cognitive flexibility, response inhibition and task switching.
  3. Visual Information Processing and Mental Processing Speed.
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John Stevenson is one of the most passionate and dedicated professionals I’ve ever met. He provided me with a new perspective and insight with regards to chronic pain and anxiety. He has a genuine desire to help others realize their maximum potential. I would highly recommend John and his team of professional staff to anyone.

Five Star Google Review

I would highly recommend everyone at Zone. They are absolutely amazing and caring. They customize a plan to fit you individually, follow up on progress and keep you posted consistently. This is hands down the best place for neurofeedback ! Very happy with the results and I appreciate every single employee at Zone, including John who provides excellent patient care.

Five Star Google Review

I want to share my experiences at Zone Health & Performance wIth John Stevenson. I had a stroke and my speech was irreversible damaged so I had to remap my brain for my speech again. I worked with John and his staff diligently 3X a week for over a year! It was hard work but it also was fun.My speech has improved so much that when I meet someone that don’t know that after my stroke I couldn’t even put a sentence together! I would highly recommend Zone Health & Performance it…improved my life!

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Why Should You Choose Zone?

One of the things that makes us unique at Zone Health & Performance Psychology is that we combine these types of Talk Therapies with Neurofeedback/Biofeedback to optimize the nervous system. Our clients learn a variety of Mindfulness-based/Biofeedback tools and strategies to stabilize their mind while simultaneously optimizing their internal physiology and overall health. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Zone Health and Performance will provide permanent and natural alternative solutions for those who are seeking non-pharmaceutical options to their health and well-being.