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Treatments for Sleep Problems and Insomnia

Are sleep problems affecting the quality of your life? Isn’t it time to wake up feeling well rested and ready for the day?

At Dr. Diane® Brain Health, we use a variety of traditional, alternative, and complementary treatment methods to help you overcome your sleep problems and achieve restorative sleep so you can wake up ready to take on each day!

Lack of Sleep

One of the chief complaints worldwide, regardless of age, is lack of sleep, let alone getting restorative sleep. However, in a recent sleep survey, which included 5,256 patient-members with a range of health conditions, many reported chronic difficulties with sleep. Some of the responses were:

  • 30% of respondents said they “rarely” or “never” got a good night’s sleep
  • 53% of those who believed they had a sleep problem had been dealing with their sleep difficulty for at least a year

It’s not surprising that patients coping with illness would report difficulties with sleep. The relationship between sleep and pain is a common and complicated one. Pain creates significant challenges to sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep and hard to stay asleep. At the same time, being short on sleep can make us more sensitive to pain.

For optimal brain function, your brain needs a specific number of hours of sleep to repair and maintain itself and optimize your neural connectivity. In addition to the hours of sleep needed, there is also precise sleep method that is necessary for repair. Picture your brain as a bridge connecting several roads. When a bridge is under repair, each night all traffic must stop to allow for the repair and maintenance. With your brain, restorative sleep allows for this repair and maintenance to occur.

What is “Restorative Sleep?”

Restorative sleep consists of the completion of all five stages of sleep, and also the chemical changes that occur within a twenty-four-hour period that allow the brain and body systems to be repaired, heal, and grow. People follow a natural sequence of sleep called the circadian rhythm, which is the sleep/wake cycle within twenty-four hours. As the day wears on, we begin to desire rest and sleep. Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle by lowering the body temperature and inducing drowsiness. Melatonin affects a small nucleus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, in the hypothalamus, or upper brain stem.

During these five stages, there is dreaming, which is the integration period and the repair phase when the limbs are almost paralyzed. If you have a pet dog, restorative sleep is very obvious. When the dog is in the repair mode, the dog appears frozen in space and if you try to pick it up, it is dead weight. On the other hand, when the dog is in the integration period (rapid eye movement, called REM), this is when it is dreaming. This is why dreaming is important. Dreaming provides the integration of the repair work. Some of the most famous inventions and theories have come out of dreaming!

What’s Keeping Me From Getting Restorative Sleep?

There are a number of reasons for not achieving proper sleep, including stress, poor sleep hygiene, eating fast foods and foods with high sugar content. These can cause dysregulation of brain activity and prevent restorative sleep. Injury to the brain, be it from a concussion, stroke, MS, or Parkinson’s Disease, all cause a dysregulation in the sleep cycle and interfere with restorative sleep.

There are four types of sleep disturbances that are most common. The first is, insomnia, which is the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep. It is the most common sleep problem among the world’s population, and has increased with the fast pace of today’s lifestyle. Insomnia often occurs immediately following a concussion and, if not treated, may continue for years. Hypersomnia is the inability to become fully awake or the need for excessive quantities of sleep. This is a very common symptom after a concussion, the sleep/wake cycle disturbance, or circadian rhythm disturbance, is an interference with one’s inner clock that regulates periods of sleep and wakefulness. This condition may predate a concussion but be worsened by the injury, or it may be caused by the injury itself. Finally, parasomnias are types of motor problem that includes night terrors, nightmares, periodic leg kicking, or the twitching of restless legs syndrome. Any disturbances in sleep can cause problems with memory and thinking, mood issues such as depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain.

What Causes Sleep Problems?

As the result of a concussion, the brain becomes dysregulated, thus causing sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation. When an individual is sleep deprived, they are unable to achieve stage five, needed for restorative sleep. Sleep disturbances can cause issues related to memory and thinking, mood problems such as depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue and chronic pain. The two most common types of sleep problems that occur after a concussion are insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, and hypersomnia, the need for excessive amounts of sleep or inability to stay awake. There is also sleep/wake cycle disturbances, an issue regarding a person’s internal clock that regulates periods of sleep and wakefulness, as well as parasomnias, or motor problems such as night terrors, nightmares, and occasional leg kicking.

The two types of sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, encompass five stages of sleep that are all crucial for restorative sleep.

These five stages are:

  1. Light theta wave sleep
  2. True light theta sleep
  3. Light delta wave sleep
  4. Deep slow wave delta sleep
  5. Rapid eye movement sleep (REM)

These five stages of sleep must be achieved in order for restorative sleep to occur, in which the brain repairs itself by achieving brain wave regulation and creating needed connections through the brain.


Electroencephalogram Patterns of Human Sleep Stages?


See the video below to learn why sleep is imperative to optimum brain health, as explained by Neuroscientist Jeff Iliff.

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Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

If you're suffering from a concussion, or any other form of mild traumatic brain injury, pick up Dr. Diane's book Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and start healing today!

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Dr. Diane® Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.
7 Hodges Street
N. Andover, MA 01845
Phone: (800) 500-9971


Dr. Diane is a catalyst for change

Image Credit Elaine Boucher

Within each person shines an inner light that illuminates our path and is the source of hope. Illness, trauma, suffering and grief can diminish the light and shroud hope. I am a catalyst for hope and change, offering a way to rekindle this inner light.

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