Insomnia can be a wickedly frustrating problem for a variety of reasons. Patterns of sleep may change with age, metabolic, thyroid or endocrine problems, and may also respond to brain injury or stress with disturbance of sleep architecture.
As mentioned, in the LENS we do not treat diagnoses or single problems, just people, whose unique form of CNS problems may manifest in a number of areas. If we were to pick out a single symptom area on which the whole enterprise of improvement would depend, it could easily be sleep. The feeling of many clinicians has now been that if we see sleep restored fairly early in the treatment process, everything else, mood, anxiety, cognition, will follow along more smoothly.
Recently at Stone Mountain Center we have seen several cases of acute chronic insomnia that were drug-refractory, and that became so bad, that people felt like they were headed for a “nervous breakdown” or hospitalization. Fortunately both cases are doing well now. A problem with some of the frequently-resorted-to sleep medications such as Ambien, is that while people sleep they may not feel rested or refreshed because dreaming is inhibited and sleep architecture is disturbed in other ways.
Practitioners over about fifteen years have now noticed that almost immediately after beginning the LENS neurofeedback treatments there is more dreaming, and more vivid dreaming. If children or adults have nightmares or night terrors, these may continue, or even (rarely) intensify in the early weeks and months of treatment, only to normalize later on.
It is not uncommon to find young people who also have attentional or anxiety problems also with a disturbed circadian cycle–usually so that they stay up later and later and get up only at noon or even later in the afternoon. If a more normal cycle is not restored they often find themselves with social problems, missing classes or showing up late for work as well as a “slow start” in the morning. Sometimes these problems are exacerbated by stimulant medications as well.
It is also known that with aging, people’s pineal glands produce less and less melatonin, the neurohormone that regulates the circadian cycle, in which sleep is embedded. Having demonstrated efficacy with jet-lag, melatonin supplementation (under the advice of a physician, naturopath or nutritionist) can also help to restore normal sleep-waking cycle. Melatonin supplementation with neurofeedback has proven effective in dozens of cases treated at SMC and other locations.