neurofeedback for insomnia

Does Neurofeedback For Insomnia Really Work?

Brainwave Entrainment Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback has always been said to be effective in treating insomnia and a good deal of people have reported rewarding results with it.

However, there have been mixed results with this technique among the people who have used it when dealing with the condition.

We take a deep look at how effective neurofeeedback for insomnia is and what researchers say about it.

What The Insomnia Condition is Like

Some people are troubled by sleep for a couple of days, others for a few weeks, and for others, it is daily suffering that has been going on for years

Estimations done by the National Institutes of Health come to about 10% of the general population who find it difficult to perform at their best during the day due to the condition. And about 30% who say they are normally affected by the disruption of sleep (1)

Some of the common symptoms associated with insomnia include waking up early and having a really difficult time falling asleep again, struggling to sleep when it is time to, waking up feeling all worn out and exhausted instead of feeling fresh and relaxed, and lastly, having lots of waking moments during the night.

The 2 main symptoms many have reported about are waking up feeling tense, exhausted, and refreshed as well as waking up many times at night.

When there is a lot of activity that is happening in the brain, it remains aroused thus keeping you awake for long instead of falling asleep.

One of the methods that have shown great potential in dealing with insomnia is neurofeedback that aims to help you regulate the activity of the brain and brain waves so that it is possible for you to fall asleep quicker and remain asleep throughout the night.

Neurofeedback is a form of brain training that provides you with a real-time view of your brain wave activity on a screen and helps you master ways to alter the brain wave activity in your brain so that you are able to function much better and overcome various health issues including insomnia.

Types of Neurofeedback For Insomnia

As earlier mentioned, neurofeedback takes advantage of the brainwave activity of the brain.

Just like brainwave entrainment, it uses the brain wave patterns created in the brain for different states to help you alter your brain waves to get into the state of mind you desire, in this case, sleep.

A typical neurofeedback session involves helping you see your brain wave patterns on a screen as they are in your brain at that particular moment and get you to alter them, and the change happens in real-time as you do it.

Operant conditioning that uses rewards and punishment to help you master a certain behavior is used to help you defeat the condition you have, but it is used in a fun and interactive way (2).

You get to watch movies, play video games, and work with music to help you as a way to shift your state of mind and brain wave patterns.

Our beginner’s guide on neurofeedback explains at length how this is done.

When dealing with insomnia, the technician will analyze your brain wave patterns and look out for abnormal patterns and aim to rectify the situation.

People with insomnia show brain wave patterns that indicate wakefulness and alertness and what neurofeedback does is to reduce these mental states by helping you change your brain wave patterns.

There are many types of neurofeedback that are designed for different conditions (3)(4).

The 3 types of neurofeedback that are known for handling insomnia include:

* Frequency/power neurofeedback, which involves using 2 to 4 electrodes that get to change the amplitude or speed of specific brain waves in specifically targeted areas in the brain. Other than insomnia, this type of neurofeedback also helps with anxiety and ADHD.

* Live Z-score neurofeedback, which works with continuous calculations that makes comparisons of brain function variables like power, coherence, asymmetries, and phase-lag to a scientifically developed standard database.

* Low energy neurofeedback system (LENS), which involves conveying a tiny electromagnetic signal aimed at changing a patient’s brain waves when they are in a still position and when their eyes are closed. Apart from insomnia, LENS is also used for anger, depression, restless leg syndrome, ADHD, brain injury, anxiety, and fibromyalgia.

What Studies Say About Neurofeedback For Insomnia

The few studies on neurofeedback have revealed that it can be a good intervention for insomnia and other health conditions such as migraines, learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Parkinson’s disease, cognitive enhancement, addictions, improving musical performance and even boosting the performance of the working memory (5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10)(11).

However, other studies have concluded that the effectiveness of neurofeedback for insomnia could be nothing more than a placebo effect (12)(13).

The researchers said that the improvement noted in the participants could have been due to other factors like care and empathy they received as well as experiencing trust during the study.

However, it is worth noting that this study was only limited to the sensorimotor-rhythm neurofeedback for insomnia and their sample was small.

So it doesn’t mean that neurofeedback in its entirety works due to the placebo effect.

This, therefore, calls for more research to assess neurofeedback and its various types on its ability to treat insomnia.

In essence, many of the research studies have shown that it could be a reliable and potentially effective technique for treating different health conditions.

If studied more, it would be possible for us to understand how exactly it works, the benefits, and how it can be enhanced to bring even better results.

However, at the moment, one of the reasons why it works is because of its perceived ability by the patient to improve the health condition they are having.

More studies and analysis may help us determine why this is the case and also allow us to discover more of its uses and mechanism of action.

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10 thoughts on “Does Neurofeedback For Insomnia Really Work?

  1. kimlee2694 says:

    Hi, I also learned somewhere that there was a study that made compassions of neurofeedback and biofeedback interventions for a group of people that had insomnia and they found that neurofeedback increased total sleep time and decreased the waking periods after sleeping. Neurofeedback is actually pretty effective. It is a treatment that will help lots of people with insomnia despite the few studies done on it. 

    1. Improve Your Brain Power Team says:

      Hallo there Kim, 

      Thanks for letting us know about the study.

      You have helped us all know about it. 🙂

      We appreciate the contribution a lot.

      Good luck with neurofeedback.

      Cheers, 

      The IYBP Team

  2. Hello there,  thanks for this very detailed and informative post,  I must say this post is really timely for me because this is exactly what I am looking for, My relative is really suffering from insomnia and one of her friend recommended neurofeedback though I have small knowlesge about it but I needed to be sure how it really works hence my research and this post has provided a comprehensive answers to the questions I have regarding neurofeedback for insomnia. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Improve Your Brain Power Team says:

      Hallo there Jomata, 

      Thanks for stopping by.

      We are glad to hear that our post helped you.

      We wish you the best with your relative’s case.

      We also hope to hear how neurofeedback works out for her once she’s done with the treatment.

      We look forward to your feedback soon.

      Cheers, 

      The IYBP Team

  3. Samikingss says:

    Scientists say that if we can make use of 50% of our brains we can be super human. That’s incredible right? Well I am hearing most of these words for the first time and it is interesting to note that someone actually cares how we sleep or why we don’t. That’s very thoughtful of you. Now I am well informed about insomnia, thanks very much for this wonderful article and your wonderful advice on how to go about overcoming insomnia. 

    1. Improve Your Brain Power Team says:

      Hallo there Sami, 

      Thanks for stopping by.

      We appreciate your thoughts and your contribution to the topic. 🙂

      Cheers, 

      The IYBP Team

  4. Sheddy Ovb says:

    Helo there, a big thanks to you for sharing this insightful and informative post on neurofeedback for insomnia.. I actually stumbled on this site which I must say is really interesting, it has got  lots of nformation  neurofeedback for insomnia. I have really been impacted by this article, a big thanks for sharing this. Well done.

    1. Improve Your Brain Power Team says:

      Hallo there Sheddy, 

      Thanks for your kind words.

      We wish you good luck with neurofeedback as you get into it.

      We also believe you will share your experiences with the treatment with us.

      We would love to hear how things go for you.

      Cheers, 

      The IYBP Team

  5. Skuchmane says:

    hello dear, wow what wonderful content you have here, it’s really nice to have come here. I am writing a research paper on neurofeedback for my college and your content is going to offer me a lot of the kind of information I need to complete the paper. I just wanted to say thanks.

    1. Improve Your Brain Power Team says:

      Hallo there, 

      It is awesome to hear that we have helped you with your schoolwork.

      We wish you the best with the paper and look forward to hearing how well you score on it. 🙂

      Cheers, 

      The IYBP Team

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