Trauma/stress, sleep, and brainwaves

I have several friends who have a hard time sleeping. Could be falling asleep or staying asleep. They go through long periods of not sleeping well.

I’ve been through several of those periods myself, although not lately. I empathize with how the lack of a good night’s sleep negatively affects everything the next day — energy, alertness, performance. I feel their pain.

I’ve already mentioned that I take most of the supplements recommended in the appendix of Buddha’s Brain. I feel better than I’ve felt in years.

I honestly don’t know how good I can feel, and I’d like to find out!

When my contract job ends in 6 weeks and I can make this a priority, I intend to get my brainwaves optimized.

Here’s a link to an article, Your Brainwaves On Sleep. The author writes about the particle (chemical) and wave (brainwave) approaches to sleep.

On the particle side of the debate, there is ample experiential evidence and scientific studies that demonstrate that chemical activity in the brain can profoundly alter sleep tendencies. Many foods, medicines and other substances are well known to have promotional or inhibitory influences on sleep. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated the existence of sleep-regulatory substances, which, after accumulating in the cerebrospinal fluid of an organism and then being injected into another one, can induce the state of sleepiness.

Wave approaches to sleep focus on its cyclical aspects. A focus on wave aspects has intrinsic appeal, since sleep itself comes and goes regularly in healthy individuals. On this side of the debate, researchers have shown, for example, that there is an extra dose of sleepiness that comes in the middle of the afternoon. Within and between sleep periods, there are predictable cycles of brainwave activity. The timing of the beginning and end of a sleep period is also intimately connected with the timing of our secretion of hormones, the level of arousal of our cardiovascular system, immune system and metabolic functioning and integration of our cognitive capacities. Without good quality sleep, these systems become poorly modulated and dysfunctional over time.

I disagree that we must understand sleep as one or the other. I believe we must understand sleep — and everything else — as both particles and waves. We are bio-chemical, bio-electrical critters.

Good sleep correlates to brain activation patterns (as measured by EEG) that are reasonably balanced (left-to-right and front-to-back) and harmonized (low and high frequencies in a good proportion to one another throughout the brain). Balance and harmony are required especially in those brain areas that generally function for the purpose of internal processing and reception of external stimuli: the temporal, occipital, parietal and midline (or corpus callosum) areas.

Of course, trauma and chronic stress (or prolonged periods of stress) get the brainwaves off track. Brainwave optimization gets them back in harmony.

I hope that someday, brainwave optimization will be inexpensive, widespread, and routine in our culture. What a world that might be, with everyone’s brains functioning at their best all the time!


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