Sleep — or lack of it — affects literally every single part of your life, from looking and feeling good to being able to have patience with the kids, to meeting goals at work, to maintaining a healthy relationship with your significant other, and so much more. Other than breathing, sleeping is the most important basis for your brain’s health, today and in the future. Research shows that people who have more disrupted sleep in their 30s and 40s are more likely to have memory and thinking problems a decade later.

Given how crucial sleep is to brain health, you would think it would be a top priority for most people. However, in our fast-paced world, with never-ending dings, 24/7 news of disasters around the globe, and mutating viruses, it’s more difficult than ever for people to shut down for the day, shut off their minds, and get enough quality slumber.

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation has become the norm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in three adults in the United States reports not sleeping enough daily. Nearly 40 percent of adults said that they fall asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month, and an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders. If you are one of them, you know how debilitating it can be.

The acts of going to sleep, staying asleep, and getting quality sleep are governed by your brainwaves. A proven way to remedy sleep problems is to adjust brain function to encourage healthier sleeping. When the brain operates optimally, sleep quality and quantity can improve surprisingly quickly. Neurofeedback brain training can positively impact sleep because it can work directly with the areas of the brain that regulate sleeping to achieve healthier function.

Here’s Why Sleep Is So Important to Your Brain Health

Sleep is crucial for your overall health and well-being, and it plays an even more crucial role in brain health. Here are some reasons why:

Memory Consolidation

During sleep, especially in the deep stages, the brain consolidates and organizes memories from your day. This process is essential for learning and long-term memory formation. Memories for facts and skills show greater retention over a 12-hour period that included sleeping versus a 12-hour period of wakefulness. Research shows that deep stages of sleep seem to make memories more stable, while rapid eye movement (REM) stages seem to link together related memories.

Cognitive Function

Adequate sleep is necessary for normal cognitive function, including attention, problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Not sleeping enough can impair these cognitive processes fairly quickly. For example, after just one night of reduced slumber, reaction times, glucose levels, mood, memory, and hormone balances can be affected. One study saw brain changes after not sleeping for one night similar to brain injury.

Brain Detoxification

During sleep, the glymphatic system becomes more active and clears out waste and toxins from the brain. This cleansing process is essential for maintaining brain health and preventing the buildup of harmful substances. Researchers found that the space between brain cells increases during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. Chronic sleep disturbances have been linked to an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Neurotransmitter Regulation

Sleep helps regulate neurotransmitters. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter associated with falling asleep, muscle relaxation, and sedation. The neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and orexin, keep some parts of the brain active and awake. Other neurotransmitters that shape sleep and wakefulness include acetylcholine, histamine, adrenaline, cortisol, and serotonin. Getting enough quantity and quality of sleep helps neurotransmitters stay balanced, and neurotransmitters are vital to have healthy sleep cycles.

Synaptic Plasticity

Sleep is essential for synaptic plasticity, which is the ability of synapses (the connections between neurons) to strengthen or weaken over time with use. This process is critical for learning, retaining, and adapting to new information. While both REM and nonrapid eye movement sleep may play a role in synaptic plasticity, the REM stage is particularly important to age-related brain development as a child grows.

Hormone Regulation

Sleep influences the release of various hormones, including growth hormone and cortisol. Disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle can impact hormone balance, potentially leading to issues, such as impaired growth, increased stress, and disrupted metabolism. Overall, the endocrine system, which is responsible for hormones, has a bi-directional relationship with sleep — with one having a strong influence on the other. Hormones that are most likely to affect your sleep patterns include melatonin, cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone.


Sleep deprivation and disruption can have significant effects on neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells. Neurogenesis is particularly important for learning, memory, mood, cognitive flexibility, and adapting to new experiences. Reduced neurogenesis has been linked to mental disorders, including: depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and addiction.

Neurofeedback Changes Brain Operation

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, painless practice that guides and teaches a person’s brain healthier functioning through real-time monitoring of brainwave activity and feedback. An individual’s brain learns, through operant conditioning, to perform at optimal levels and continues to self-regulate at these levels after training which relieves the symptoms of many physical and mental health conditions.

Neurofeedback brain training can optimize brain wave amplitudes, enhance connectivity between parts of the brain, and adjust the amount of activity and responsiveness of specific regions of the brain. Neurofeedback is proven by science and has been around for decades. Go here to read in detail how it works.

Neurofeedback can positively impact sleep because it can pinpoint and work directly on the areas of the brain that regulate the function. It improves what is known as “sleep architecture” in the brain, including the duration and distribution of the various brainwaves and stages. For instance, it can help individuals spend more time in restorative stages, such as deep sleep.

Research suggests that one way neurofeedback works is by increasing brainwave spindle density and activity while stabilizing the part of the nervous system that regulates wakefulness, sleep, and arousal. Specifically, ISF neurofeedback has been shown to help people improve sleep onset, quality, and consistency, and helped them feel less depressed and anxious during the day. Further research found that ISF frequencies directly impact neurons in a person’s brain that influence their circadian rhythms, which is the 24-hour biological clock influencing sleep cycles.

Better Brainwaves Mean Better Sleep

Research on neurofeedback for sleep disorders is still young. However, I can tell you from personal experience that it worked miraculously to improve my sleep after a brain injury, and we’ve seen similar positive results with our clients. One study using neurofeedback on people with insomnia saw sustained improvements six to nine months later with some participants continuing to improve after the study and being classified as “‘no clinically significant insomnia disorder.’’

In other research, scientists tracked sleep parameters using subjective and objective measures. Results indicated significant improvements on all self-reported outcomes. Furthermore, subjects improved sleep duration by over an hour and also reduced the time it took to fall asleep.

Specifically, here’s how neurofeedback can help improve sleep:

Brainwave Regulation

Neurofeedback trains individuals to regulate their brain activity and patterns for healthier functioning. To improve sleeping, the brain training focuses on promoting brainwave patterns associated with relaxation and deep sleep, such as increasing delta waves.

Reducing Hyperarousal

Individuals with insomnia, other sleep disorders, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health conditions may have a hyperaroused brain that is overly active and on alert all the time. Studies confirm that neurofeedback can turn down brain activity and relax a person’s brain by teaching it healthier, more situation-appropriate functioning and calmer brainwave patterns.

Enhancing Neuroplasticity

Research shows that neurofeedback promotes neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt, reorganize itself, and learn. This can lead to long-term changes in brain function, addressing the underlying factors contributing to sleeping problems in the first place. The brain changes endure after the training has ended.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction

Neurofeedback is proven to decrease stress and anxiety, which are common contributors to sleep difficulties. By promoting relaxation and reducing the physiological markers of stress in the brain and body, neurofeedback training can improve sleep quality and quantity. When your mind calms down, your body calms down and cortisol and adrenaline levels decrease.


Insomnia and sleep issues are public health problems significantly impacting the daily lives of millions of people. Current treatments, such as medications and cognitive behavioral therapy, have major limitations in that they seldom provide functional recovery, are expensive, and can have harmful side effects. Neurofeedback is a powerful practice for a variety of neuropsychological disorders, including insomnia and other sleep problems. Neurofeedback is completely natural and painless, has no regular side effects, and teaches the brain lasting healthier operation.

Adults and children who have trained at the Grey Matters’ studio have experienced reduced symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, migraines, concussion, brain injury, stroke, addiction, gut issues, learning disabilities, apraxia, OCD/PANS/PANDAS, COVID brain fog, chronic pain, and other physical and neurological issues. Neurofeedback is a long-term, medication-free approach to optimizing brain function to allow you to live your best life. To find out more about how we can help you or someone you care about, call 317-215-7208 or send us a message today.

Photo Credits:
First image source: Image by benzoix on Freepik
Second image source: By rolffimages
Last image source: By Bangkok Click Studio