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Are You Making Sleep a Priority? Here’s Why You Should Be

in Brain Health, How-To, Neurofeedback, Sleep by Ray McGarty

Most of us know that getting enough sleep is vital to our well-being. We’re happier when we feel rested, we have more energy to do the things we want to do. But, sleep does so much more than just replenish our energy. Getting enough sleep is essential to a healthy hormone cycle, cortisol cycle, and if that wasn’t enough, sleep can even impact how much we eat! It’s true – studies have found individuals who sleep 6 or fewer hours a night are on average eating an extra 385 calories a day. And not just any calories, they’re craving carbs and sugar because their brains think they need the quick fuel to get them through the day. That means lack of sleep alone contributes to someone eating an extra 2,695 empty calories per week.

We know that the amount of sleep is important, but what how good your sleep is? The quality of your sleep is almost more important than the amount you’re sleeping. If you’re getting 7 hours of poor quality sleep, you’re still not sleeping enough.  Good, quality sleep is hard to come by in this day and age. With so much artificial light, long schedules and the societal drive to “be busy,” sleep quality isn’t high on everyone’s priority list. But it should be. In order to have truly restful, restorative sleep, you have to progress through all stages of the sleep cycle, but most of us aren’t.

Join us this month to learn about why you should be making sleep a priority and what you can do to get better sleep. We’ll cover the things you’re doing that are keeping you awake, tips for improving your sleep space and how neurofeedback helps with insomnia. So stay tuned to get all the information on sleeping your way to better health!

 

Here are 5 things you can do today to get a better night’s rest:

  1. Sleep in the Dark – I know this seems obvious, but there are some many light-emitting electronics and devices in our rooms! Hide the cell phone, turn off or cover anything that emits light. Both your eyes and your skin have photoreceptors that can detect light and sends information to your brain that isn’t time to sleep yet. Our brains produce melatonin when it’s time to wind down and sleep, but when there are light sources being detected, the brain won’t make the right amount and when there’s less melatonin, there’s more cortisol, which is the stress hormone. So, sleep in the dark!
  2. 1-Hour Screen Rule – no screens 1 hour before bed. Our brains are amazing and complex organs, but they struggle to tell the difference between natural daylight and the artificial blue light coming from our phones and other devices. We love our devices, they entertain us, but they’re also keeping us awake. You just need one hour before bedtime to start sending the right signals to your brain that it’s night, it’s time to start winding down. So send the last emails, texts and check facebook for the last time one hour before bed.
  3. Read Fiction Before Bed – Since you no longer have your phone to look at, what are you going to do before bed? Read. Studies have shown that reading fiction for even 6 minutes slows the heart rate, calms the body and has a relaxing effect. Why fiction? Because it stimulates our creativity, it isn’t introspective and it doesn’t activate our brains in a way that causes us to worry. Fiction is usually light, entertaining and fantastical. So read a good story before bed.
  4. Snuggle – If you share your bed with a significant other – snuggle them! Snuggling and being close to those we love stimulates the brain to release oxytocin, our “love hormone,” but this signals to the body that it is safe and allowed to relax. Snuggling a pet also releases oxytocin. If no one is around, you can still benefit by doing easy self-massage. Rub your temples, or between your eyebrows. Touch stimulates the release of oxytocin.
  5. Light Exercise – 5-10 minutes of easy exercise when you WAKE UP in the morning, will improve your sleep the following night. So have your coffee, or your tea, wake up a little and then do some light stretches or some bodyweight exercises. When you first wake up, your cortisol levels are highest (because your melatonin levels are lowest), exercise can produce endorphins, which you feel better and it gets the blood moving, which stimulates the removal of waste. So improving your sleep actually starts in the morning!

 

Sweet Dreams!

-McGarty and Associates

Neurofeedback and Migraines

in Migraine, Neurofeedback by Ray McGarty

Before beginning neurofeedback I had been having migraines that regularly caused me to miss out on “life”. It was very discouraging to have to cancel events, be unable to perform my daily tasks, and hide out in a dark and quiet room. I had tried both traditional medicines and natural remedies with no success.On the day of my first neurofeedback session, I had a particularly bad migraine and had to have my daughter drive me to the appointment. I could barely manage to string words together into sentences and smiling felt like the last thing I wanted to do. By the time the session was over, I was able to hold a conversation and even smile with little effort. Not only did my pain decrease by several points on the pain scale, but the nausea and light sensitivity went away as well. An added bonus was that the migraine went away much more quickly than usual. My migraines had been lasting an average of 46 hours each. After 4 months of neurofeedback, the length of my migraines is now an average of 27 hours.I am getting migraines far less frequently now and they are far less severe. When I do get a migraine, I go see Jacquie and my pain levels drop very quickly. I am then able to go about my daily life and not miss out on all the things I used to miss out on.I am very hopeful that in the near future that I will no longer get migraines at all and that my neurofeedback sessions will be solely preventative.Neurofeedback has given me back my life. I am beyond thrilled. Thank you so much, McGarty & Associates!

H.P.

Migraines. A word that is too commonly used to describe a bad headache. But for those who do suffer migraines, the word conjures up the feeling of debilitating pain and days of being unable to function. With migraines being the third most common illness in the world, chances are that you or someone you know suffers from migraine attacks.

But what are migraines, what causes them and why do they happen? Despite how prevalent migraines are, it is still unclear what definitively causes migraines. There is a growing body of research that is finding there is a genetic component to migraines, and that each migraine sufferer has their own specific migraine triggers. Those triggers may be a combination of things from food, lights, hormones, and those triggers may change over time. Some migraines come from the over-use of certain medications, even those designed to treat migraines. It is also important to note, that none of the current medications prescribed for migraines, were developed to treat or cure migraines, they just happen to alleviate some of the symptoms.

With so many compounding factors that cause or trigger migraines, treatment can be confusing to navigate.  Can migraines be treated and eliminated in a manner that not only stops one in its tracks but prevents future migraine attacks from happening altogether? The answer is yes, with regular neurofeedback training.

Neurofeedback is a powerful tool for treating, preventing and eliminating migraines by training the brain and central nervous system to operate harmoniously. Regulating the brain improves communication with the hormonal output system, keeps the central nervous system in check and eliminates migraines.

 

What is a Migraine?

Migraines are intense headaches that may be accompanied by any of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light/sound
  • Sensitivity to smells
  • Changes in vision

Individuals with migraines have a more sensitive nervous system. In such individuals, the nerve cells of the brain are more easily triggered into abnormal activity. This activity spreads throughout the brain. Various functions and sensory modalities, such as vision, balance, muscle coordination and speech are temporarily disturbed. These disturbances trigger the symptoms that precede a migraine.

What Causes a Migraine?

Although there is no one cause for a migraine, doctors and researchers agree that there seems to be an underlying central nervous system disorder.

A migraine occurs when the 5th cranial nerve is stimulated and sends pain impulses to the eyes, scalp, forehead, mouth, and jaw. When the nerve is stimulated, the blood vessels of the brain become inflamed – which leads to a throbbing headache, nausea, and sensitivity to light.

 

Why do Women tend to have more migraines?

The predominant female sex hormone, estrogen, appears to trigger migraines. The rising and dropping of estrogen levels throughout a woman’s cycle can trigger a migraine. Hormone production and release is regulated via a communication loop that starts in the brain, so an efficient brain and central nervous system is key.

 

How can Neurofeedback Help?

Neurofeedback can stop or ease a migraine while it is occurring, but more importantly, regular training can be a preventative measure. Regular training helps the central nervous system operate in a more efficient and regulated manner, which leads to the decrease in number and frequency of migraines. Often, migraines will be completely eliminated.

For migraines with a hormonal trigger, neurofeedback allows the brain and the hormonal control center (HPA Axis) to communicate more effectively and operate more efficiently.

Contact us today for more information or to set up a consultation