sleep hackWhy are we Googling ‘can’t sleep’, instead of just getting eight hours’ sleep like good little people?

As we strive for success in the workplace, try to balance a career with family and basically take technology to bed with us (you can admit you keep your tablet or your phone under your pillow or on the bedside table, we all do it), we are constantly sacrificing our sleep.

We’ll do just about anything to get more sleep. We’ll wrestle with our blankets, struggle with our breathing, get up, lie down, drink warm milk, sip herbal tea, take pills or tune into the TV shopping network. Is anyone still counting sheep? The more we do, the more our mind races. The less likely we are to rest.

The average Aussie sleeps less than seven hours a night, and one in three gets just four hours’ a night according to the Sleep Health Foundation.

So, how on earth are we functioning without this essential requirement for health, wealth and happiness?

More that 2 million Australians, over 10% of the adult population, suffer from a sleep disorder. This not only costs the Australian economy more than $5.1 billion a year in direct costs  it can severely impact your health. The bottom line is that lack of sleep can make you fat, substantially increase your risk of dying, give you cancer, or give you heart disease.

Sleep expert Dr Stanley said he believes that the practice of sacrificing sleep (sleep-hacking) to be deeply flawed and says that, when it comes to sleep, it’s quantity as well as quality that counts.

‘How much sleep we need is genetically determined, just like our height,’ says Dr Stanley. ‘You can’t get the full benefit in less time; you can’t short-circuit it.’

He says to optimise your sleep, you can cut out caffeine before bed, sleep in a clutter-free place and take the time to unwind before you hit the sack.

To Hack or to Optimise?

I rather dislike the idea of ‘hacking’ sleep. It feels adversarial to me, like you are attempting to game your system or to cheat somehow. In my experience that breeds the kind of attitude I’ve fallen victim to in the past of trying to be extreme about it. Being extreme about it is almost never sustainable.

Instead I like to introduce you to Brain Optimisation a technology that has been used by many people to successfully help with sleeplessness and insomnia issues. “It’s kind of like pushing the reset button in that you get back to a balanced level to start with.”

A prominent neurologist says insomnia can be caused by stress or trauma that throws off the brain’s natural rhythms and balance. Restful sleep can only happen when the brain is functioning the way it should. That means neural connections are healthy and strong and that brainwave patterns are working in balance and harmony.

Here’s how it works is, sensors attach to the scalp and connect to a brain-mapping computer that detects brain waves. The brain waves are then broken down into frequencies and evaluated. Dominant frequencies are then assigned a musical tone and played back to the patient through ear phones.

Shelley describes what he sees the process, “It’s kind of consonant, kind of dissonant, strangely ethereal.”

As the brain listens to the sounds, changes can occur in the neural network.

Shelley explains how it helped him, “It works. After the third session, I got a great night’s sleep. After that, little by little, the insomnia kind of went away. I’m sleeping great now.”

All thanks to the sounds of his own brain.

While brainwave optimisation is relatively new (it’s only been available for the last 10 years). The treatment has already been shown to be safe and painless in research trials for insomnia. Further clinical trials for brainwave optimisation in migraines are also under way, with additional studies planned for people with concussions.