There are many different forms of sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and sleepwalking. Alternative therapies targeting brainwave activity such as brainwave entrainment therapy and QEEG neurofeedback therapy can restore healthy sleep patterns.
What are the different names and types of sleep disorders that people suffer from?
Dr. John Silva: Sure. In no particular order, restless leg syndrome, something we see quite commonly, especially with older adults. This is a condition characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs. Typically, it’s present in the evenings while the person’s sleeping, and it really drives their spouse crazy because their significant other is constantly moving throughout the evening, and it, oftentimes, can get so severe that it actually wakes people up many times throughout the night.
Jet lag is another one, especially for those that travel a lot for their business or people in the airline industry, but this is basically a sleep disorder that can affect those who travel quickly across multiple time zones.
Another one that I don’t see quite as often is probably a little bit more on the rare side, but narcolepsy, which is a chronic sleep disorder that causes overwhelming daytime drowsiness. It’s beyond I guess you’re zoning out, where you actually become very sleepy and can actually almost fall asleep at the drop of a hat.
Night terrors is another one. We do see quite a bit of that, especially with patients who suffer with PTSD.
Sleepwalking. It goes without saying that is the act of getting up and walking around while you’re sleeping; that can be very scary.
Obstructive sleep apnea, very common, again, especially amongst the older adults that may be overweight or suffering cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, but this is basically an airflow blockage that will intermittently cause disruption during sleep and even breathing problems.
Then, of course, the most common when we talk about sleep is insomnia. This is just a persistent and almost day in, day out, or night in, night out, problem falling and staying asleep or it could be a combination of both.
If someone thinks they have a sleep disorder, what should they do first to get help?
Dr. John Silva: I would highly recommend what’s called a quantitative EEG brain map. EEG stands for electroencephalogram. It’s used by many neurologists and has been for well over 50 years. It’s a way of noninvasively mapping brainwave activity. Where our sleep basically comes from is proper brainwave regulation, particularly with what’s called delta brainwaves. By performing a QEEG brain map, we can map out the different regions of the brain, the different brainwave states and particularly look at delta brainwave activity to see if it’s underperforming or over-performing, running too high or too low, as I call it, and that can lead to sleep issues. It starts there, and, of course, we have therapies that can help people.
Then, next on the list would definitely be a sleep study. In fact, that’s what most people often will be prescribed by the primary care physician, to do a sleep study. Basically, you are sleeping throughout the night, and they’re running a battery of tests, including an EEG brain map, typically. They’re also looking at other metrics like eye movements, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, body movements, to really get a really in-depth picture of what’s going on and what’s disrupting that person’s sleep.
What therapies do you use in your practice to treat sleep disorders, and how do they work?
Dr. John Silva: Our two primary therapies that we use are QEEG-based neurofeedback therapy. It’s using the same EEG technology, but, instead of diagnostically, we now use it to retrain irregular brainwave patterns. Particularly if, again, if someone’s suffering with sleep, they usually have a dis-regulation of delta brainwave activity, so we can direct our neurofeedback therapy and guide that delta brainwave state to a better state, more balanced state, and that’ll help improve sleep and, oftentimes, resolve sleep issues, even very chronic sleep issues.
Next on my list that we often use and, oftentimes, we will actually prescribe this for home use because it’s best used just prior to when a person intends to go to sleep, but this is called brainwave entrainment therapy. Again, it’s a type of therapy. It’s been in the industry for many, many years, highly researched, very effective, noninvasive. Basically, it’s using what I can describe as glasses with blinking LED lights behind the lens of the glass. You typically have your eyes closed, and these lights will pulse as specific frequencies to provide proper brainwave function or regulation, and, of course, the protocols we use, we’ll use delta brainwave stimulation to lull that person into a sleep and then, overtime, with enough use, each and every night, basically improve their chronic sleep issues.
Do these therapies provide additional benefits beyond helping to restore normal sleep pattern?
Dr. John Silva: Most definitely. Both of those therapies that I mentioned, both QEEG neurofeedback therapy, and brainwave entrainment therapy go well beyond just sleep issues. Especially the neurofeedback therapy, because when you can provide a therapy that is able to bring the brain into proper function and balance, the list can be endless. If you really stop and think about it, the most important part in the overall regulating system of our body is our brain and nervous system. Everything, every physiological function from head to toe is ultimately controlled by our brain, so the possibilities are almost limitless. Not only do you get the benefits of improving sleep, but perhaps you are able to improve your anxiety, your depression, whatever else might be ailing you that is stemming from your brain dis-regulation.
Do you have an example of someone you treated who as able to overcome their sleep disorder?
Dr. John Silva: Yes. Just several years ago, we had a mom and dad bring their child in for ADHD, a young seven-year-old boy who was responding very well to neurofeedback therapy. We were doing some nutritional counseling with the whole family, and Mom was inquisitive about some of our other therapies, including the brainwave entrainment therapy that I just described. So, we offered her a demo session while her son was receiving neurofeedback therapy. It was amazing because she put the glasses on, she put the headphones on, and, oftentimes, people listen to some nice, relaxing music while they go through this process. We kick them back into a zero-gravity recliner, and she went into a deep sleep.
The process that we use while they’re here in the office for demonstration purposes takes them out of a deep sleep, and then moves them back into what we call beta brainwave activity, so we don’t leave them groggy for the day, so they can go home and drive their car. She invested in the technology for both her son and the rest of the family, and within just a matter of a couple of weeks, her chronic insomnia, and she had such a struggle getting to sleep and staying asleep, constantly waking up throughout the night, was virtually resolved within a couple of weeks of using this brainwave entrainment therapy. So very powerful benefits.
To speak with Dr. John Silva, visit www.drjohnsilva.com or call 772-429-8800 to schedule an appointment