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Insomnia and Sleep Problems

We all know the expression “sleeps like a baby”, but it turns out this is an elusive goal, even for babies themselves! People of all ages, from infancy on, may have various types of insomnia, that is, difficulties getting a good night’s sleep, either occasionally or all the time. There may be difficulties falling asleep, waking up and falling back asleep, waking up too early in the morning, or nightmares. Some people need an hour or more to transition to sleep; children may experience fears before falling asleep, or when they wake up in the middle of the night. Another, less usual sleep problem, is sleeping too deeply and having great difficulty waking up in the morning. Bed-wetting can be classed as a sleep problem, because the brain is too asleep to manage this function.

A common form of insomnia, for adults and children is difficulty shutting off the mind at night and find oneself victim of a brain that endlessly replays concerns, worries, plans, or trivia. Many children stay up late not because they want to but because they have no alternative, a source of endless family conflicts with exasperated parents.

There are any number of causes for insomnia. In some cases it can be traced to the lingering effects of trauma, either from childhood, or a more recent physical or emotional trauma. Birth difficulties can lead to recurrent insomnia. In looking for causes, it is always important to make sure the hormones are balanced properly, especially the adrenals. Many cases of insomnia, though, are simply the way the brain is tuned for reasons we don’t entirely understand.

Neurofeedback is by far the most safe and effective treatment for sleep problems. Medications for sleep are highly addictive, and in the long run create even more problems than they solve. For this reason, many people currently taking sleep medications are looking for alternatives. Neurofeedback has no side effects, and once the brain is re-tuned, the results last for a long time, with only occasional tune-ups needed. In most cases 10-15 sessions are all that is needed to produce significant improvements in sleep -although that goal of 8 hours of wonderful sound sleep may remain elusive. For children, improvement in sleep often occur after the first session. Bed-wetting is usually resolved in 8-10 sessions. Where there has been trauma, past or present use of sleep medications, the course of treatment is a little more complex and is likely to take longer.

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© copyright 2012 Dr. Carl Shames