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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

Ensuring Quality Sleep with Biofeedback

by Jennifer Burrows

Sleep is an essential component to a healthy, happy life, yet many people struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. Each of us should be spending about one-third of our day in a restful sleep; it allows us to clear out toxins from our brain and process emotions we’ve experienced, giving our bodies a chance to heal and repair. Much of what goes on while we sleep is still a subject of study, but it’s clear that a lack of sleep carries consequences: raising the risk of depression, obesity and cardiovascular disorders, and an overall negative effect on our quality of life and health. A lack of sleep creates a stressful environment for our body. In turn, stress contributes to a lack of quality sleep. A vicious cycle ensues.

There are many lifestyle changes we can make to ensure steps towards a good quality of sleep. However, even with positive behavioral changes, many of us still need more help to achieve a good night’s rest. When this happens, biofeedback can be a very supportive modality to incorporate into our lives. In addition to being recommended by The Mayo Clinic for stress reduction, biofeedback has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for general stress reduction and brainwave entrainment. General stress reduction is very broad in application, as stress is anything that places a burden on the body. Stress can be mental or emotional, but it can also be environmental toxins, illness, injuries, unnatural electric magnetic frequencies (EMFs), etc. Environmental stressors can greatly reduce our ability to function at optimal levels and lower our resistance to a variety of external and internal stressors.

Cortisol, epinephrine and adrenaline are hormones that are released during “fight or flight,” a mechanism designed to help us react quickly to life-threatening situations. Interestingly, the nervous system cannot differentiate from actual danger and thoughts or memories of a stressful situation. The body can start having a fight or flight response to situations that are not life-threatening. High cortisol levels have received a lot of attention lately as a problem many of us face in our modern culture. Chronically high levels are unhealthy and cause many unwanted health conditions in the body. With regards to restful sleep, high cortisol levels have an impact on neurotransmitters, which, in turn, affects brainwaves as they are produced by neuronal communication. This is where brainwave entrainment can be very supportive for stress and sleep issues. During a biofeedback session, a wide variety of refined parameters, unique to each person and their stress profile, are chosen and “fed-back” to gently teach or re-educate the systems affected by stress along with guided imagery and deep breathing relaxation. Extra focus is spent on the nervous system and brainwave entrainment for sleep stress.

The body possesses the amazing ability of self-correction and healing given the right environment. Biofeedback, a very gentle and relaxing process, can be a great support to a good night’s sleep.

Jennifer Burrows CBS, CSMS, LSHC, is the founder of Mind-Body Wellness, now part of Cor Wellness and Counseling at 316 W. Boone Ave., Ste. 656, Spokane. For more information, call 509-242-0856 or visit

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