Your brain has 5 main types of brain waves: delta (the slowest frequency), theta, alpha, beta and gamma (the fastest frequency). The slower brainwaves are associated with sleep and feeling tired, slow, sluggish or dreamy. The higher frequencies are dominant when we feel wired, or hyper-alert. In the mid range are alpha brain waves, which are sometimes called the “relaxed brain waves.” They are responsible for increased calmness, a peaceful feeling and a sense of relaxation. Increasing alpha brain waves helps us have an overall sense of calm.
Research has shown that people who meditate for long periods of time have increased levels of alpha brain waves, such as monks who meditate all day. Neurofeedback brain-training produces the same state of mind that meditation does, and neurofeedback has been shown to be effective at promoting relaxation and improving sleep. In fact, it’s FDA approved for stress reduction by licensed health providers. (For more details about research on neurofeedback, visit the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research’s web site at www.isnr.org/resources.)
During neurofeedback sessions for relaxation, we seek to create alpha brain waves in the back of the head while decreasing high beta waves in the back of the head. What does this mean?
- There has been a lot of research proving the effectiveness of increasing alpha waves in the back of the head to promote relaxation.
- Increased levels of high beta waves lead us to be hyper-vigilant, or super aware, of what’s going on around us.
- Decreasing high beta waves leads to a reduction in anxiety, worry and sensitivity to our environment (such as sounds and noises) and a more relaxed state. We’re not so overwhelmed—rather, the opposite.
- In addition, our thoughts become less intense and we are able to slow down and feel more of an inner connection to our mind and body.
To promote relaxation through neurofeedback, we use a specific training protocol called alpha theta training, which also increases theta brain waves. Theta waves are present during relaxation as well as sleep; they help us get into a dream-like state, a time for the brain to slow down and relax. But we don’t actually put you to sleep, and you’ll be able to drive home after neurofeedback sessions!
What to Expect During a Neurofeedback Session
During neurofeedback brain-training sessions, you simply lie back on a comfortable chair, relax your muscles and listen to music or meditation while wearing a special cap with sensors connected to a computer. That’s it! It’s very easy for you.
The sensors on the cap monitor your brain waves and each time your brain waves are balanced, the computer reinforces the positive brain activity with sounds. Your brain loves the reinforcement and will strive to keep earning these “rewards,” thereby training itself to function more optimally. After each session, the brain works on that training for the next 24 hours.
Another benefit of neurofeedback for relaxation is that it typically helps improve sleep and is even effective at reducing insomnia long term, usually after 20-30 sessions. This type of brain training changes the neuron pathways so that the brain automatically produces more alpha waves, permanently changing sleep patterns to be more restful.
A quantitative EEG (QEEG) brain scan is not required before neurofeedback for relaxation, but we do recommend getting a QEEG for the best, most personalized results. Neurofeedback relaxation sessions are $100 each or $30 when added onto counseling sessions, and we offer financing options and prepay discounts. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment. Use our online appointment scheduler, or call or text 801-855-7999.