Getting enough quality sleep is a strong pillar of health, and deprivation can have disastrous effects on the body and the brain. One study showed that up to 33% of adults do not get enough sleep. Other studies published by the National institute of Health (NIH) suggest that between 11% and 50% of adults have chronic insomnia. The NIH also published a study that says “sleep disturbance and emotion dysregulation have been identified as etiologic and maintaining factors for a range of psychopathology and separate pieces of literature support their relationships to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and alcohol dependence (AD) symptom severity.”
Sleep deprivation is often multi-causal and it’s important to understand why sleep is so vital to health and what you can do to ensure that you’re getting enough to keep yourself healthy. Even if you are practicing healthy eating habits and getting enough exercise, a lack of quality sleep will still derail you and increases your risk for developing chronic disease.
MeRT and Sleep
Patients come to the Brain Treatment Center for treatment of various conditions which affect the brain which include:
- Post-traumatic stress
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- ADHD and other learning disabilities
- After-effects of stroke
- Parkinson’s disease
Many people who come to us for treatment feel as if their brains are “broken,” and some have trouble functioning day to day. These types of afflictions can seriously impair quality of life, health, and relationships.
MeRT (Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy) has been shown to be highly effective in treating most of these conditions.* It’s an emerging technology that is non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical and is used to neuromodulate the abnormal electrical signals in the patient’s brain to ultimately help the brain to heal and modify behavior. MeRT has been life-changing for patients whose brain function has been suboptimal.*
There are a lot of benefits to MeRT treatment, and one of the first things that people usually notice to change is improved sleep quality and quantity. This, in and of itself, is a huge benefit in the way someone feels, and it is also vitally important for brain healing. Sleep is a basic human need just like food, water, and breathing. Without quality sleep, your body can’t heal or rejuvenate. During “Deep Sleep,” when your brain is in a Delta Wave pattern, the brain is able to detoxify and repair itself. Getting good sleep is your body’s way of preparing for the day ahead. It helps you to pay attention and make decisions. It also plays a huge role in mood, and the ability to cope with stress.
If you lose sleep for several nights in a row, even if it’s just for a few hours per night, your ability to perform will be affected just as if you hadn’t slept at all for a day or two. If you are chronically sleep-deprived, your ability to function can be seriously impaired.
Depression, Post-traumatic stress, Traumatic brain injury, and other conditions can greatly impact your brain’s ability to function normally. When sleep deprivation is also a problem, it can further contribute to the downhill spiral and cause the patient to feel much worse.
The two main reasons why people can have trouble getting quality rest are the lifestyles they lead and/or an underlying medical condition.
Medical Issues can also contribute to sleep problems. People who are suffering from a mental health condition such as depression, PTS, or TBI can have sleep issues as a result of their disorder. MeRT can certainly help with both the disorder and the sleep deprivation. But there are other things that should also be considered when addressing sleep problems.
*Results vary from person to person and are not guaranteed.
Melatonin and Cortisol Imbalances
Cortisol and melatonin are hormones in the body that both affect and are affected by the circadian rhythm. All living things on earth from plants to animals to humans have a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. It is dictated by external factors such as sunlight, “blue” light, diet, exercise, lifestyle, etc. The hypothalamus gland, which is often referred to as the “master clock” also plays a role in this 24-hour cycle since it regulates things such as behavior, body temperature, sleep, and hormone levels.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland and in the gut. Studies show that gut health heavily influences sleep and the circadian rhythm, so if there are problems with gut health, it may not be producing the amount of melatonin that it should, which can, in turn, cause sleep problems. Serotonin, which is largely responsible for mood, is a precursor to melatonin, so if you’re depressed or experiencing other disorders which affect mood, you are likely having trouble with sleep as well.
To get a clearer understanding of how melatonin and cortisol affect sleep, we can look at our ancestors’ behavior and lifestyle. They went to bed early when it got dark, and got up at dawn when the sun rose. Things that produce blue light (and interfere with melatonin production) such as smartphones and televisions didn’t exist for them.
Cortisol (which is a stress hormone, and also responsible for the fight/flight response), should be at its highest in the morning hours and gradually wane throughout the day, falling to its lowest levels at dark. Melatonin, which is the sleep hormone, is the opposite, and levels should peak in the evening so that you can sleep.
Exposure to sunlight early in the day stimulates the pineal gland to produce melatonin later in the evening. This requires sunlight to pass through the eyeballs directly for this reaction to occur.
Why Cortisol and Melatonin Become Problematic
Lifestyles today are dramatically different than they were for ancestors. Not everyone has the opportunity for sunlight exposure early in the day. Hectic lifestyles expose us to stress all throughout the day and evening, which can throw cortisol into a chronic “fight/flight” mode, even though stress isn’t life-threatening. Higher cortisol levels in the evening can prevent you from being able to go to sleep. To further complicate the problem, when you are sleep deprived, secretion of cortisol can get out of whack causing you to feel tired in the morning and wired in the evenings. Chronic sleep deprivation also causes your adrenal glands to produce higher amounts of cortisol which can throw you into an extended “survival” mode, and this can cause a host of other hormonal imbalances.
The release of melatonin at night is inhibited by blue light. Most digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions emit blue light. Studies have confirmed that blue light suppresses melatonin and disrupt the circadian rhythm. To help your melatonin do its job, you should ideally turn off all digital devices at least two hours before going to bed.
Other Hormonal Imbalances and Nutritional Deficiencies
There are other hormonal balances that can impede sleep and even some nutritional deficiencies. As people get older, the sex hormones will start to automatically decrease, and this can affect sleep. For example, progesterone in women is a calming hormone; it helps to ease anxiety and can help to get a good night’s sleep. Thyroid problems can also cause sleep problems.
Magnesium deficiency is common in the United States with up to 48% of the adult population deficient. This “magic mineral” has 360 roles in the human body and studies have shown that it can help with insomnia. It is considered a natural tranquilizer and muscle relaxer as well. Magnesium glycinate is the most easily tolerated form to take since some others can cause digestive upsets, as magnesium is a natural laxative. You can also absorb magnesium by taking a relaxing hot bath in Epsom salts.
Lifestyle and Sleep
The type of lifestyle that you lead can be a big contributor to sleep deprivation. Hectic and busy lives keep us from going to bed at a reasonable and consistent hour. Anxiety and stress can also keep you from falling asleep easily. Having a designated bedtime, and establishing a bedtime routine that includes turning off blue light devices can help tremendously.
Caffeine should not be consumed in the afternoon since it can keep you awake at night. So can alcohol consumption. A lot of people think that alcohol relaxes them and helps them to sleep, however, while it can help you to relax, it interferes with your sleep cycles which prevent you from getting quality, restorative sleep.
You also want to be careful and not exercise too late in the day, since it will raise cortisol levels, which should ideally be at their lowest at night.
One of the reasons that sleep is so important to health is because this is when the body repairs, regenerates and restores itself. If your sleep cycles are continuously interrupted, you’re not going to wake up feeling refreshed no matter how many hours of sleep you’re getting.
Ideally, you should move through the various cycles of sleep every 90 to 110 minutes. Different physiological changes occur throughout your body and brain during each cycle. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is the dreaming state of sleep and only occurs once during each cycle. No dreaming occurs in the others.
- Stage 1 – Drowsy sleep stage. This cycle is what is experienced when you first fall asleep and it’s a very light state. You can be very easily awakened during this time, but it’s also when brain activity begins to slow.
- Stage 2 – The heart rate slows down and body temperature decreases. Brain waves continue to slow.
- Stage 3 – Deep Sleep. This is the most important time for the healing and restoration of the body. The brain enters the very slow, Delta-waves phase. Human Growth Hormone, which is responsible for cell growth, reproduction, and regeneration, is released during this deep sleep phase.
- Stage 4 – REM, or the dreaming stage. Brain waves become more active and dreaming takes place.
Each particular sleep stage lasts approximately 5 – 15 minutes. During the earlier part of the night, there is less time spent in REM sleep and more time spent in the Deep Sleep cycle. Closer to morning, the opposite occurs, and the deep sleep cycle is shortened and the dreaming stage is longer.
Any interruption or disturbance of sleep throughout the night can cause a lack of time spent in the various sleep cycles including the Deep Sleep stage which is crucial to health.
Dr. Mark Hyman is an esteemed Functional Medicine physician who records a series of podcasts on all types of topics related to health. One of his podcasts is called “The Doctor’s Farmacy.” In this episode, he interviews Shawn Stevenson, a nutritionist and sleep expert, and they go into great detail about the perils of sleep deprivation, and what can be done to help reverse this chronic condition.
Sleep: A Comprehensive Approach to Health
Sleep deprivation affects every single part of our lives and can dictate our quality of life, whether or not we are healthy, how fast we age, and even the length of our lifespan.
Our patients come to see us to help them heal from dysregulation of the brain. Most also have sleep problems, and MeRT can help tremendously. However, in some cases, it’s a question of “is it the chicken or the egg” in that there are some health conditions that cause sleep disorders, and yet sleep disorders can cause some serious health conditions.
Lifestyle and daily choices affect the quantity and quality of sleep greatly. It is important to make concerted efforts to change behavior and/or eating habits to improve your sleep long-term. Obviously, this is a lot easier said than done! The brain isn’t too accepting of change after behavioral patterns or habits have been established. There are neurotransmitters that fire in the brain specifically to keep those behaviors alive and well. Part of what MeRT does is to neuromodulate the brain to change those pathways and neurons so that healing can occur. However, it’s important as well to be mindful of what you can do to establish NEW habits and behaviors designed to keep you and your brain healthy.
When you are chronically tired, it can be even harder to change behavior, and even the simplest things can become overwhelming, but there are things that you can do.
- Have your hormones, vitamin levels, and toxin levels checked by a professional. Ashlee Baragrey, RD/LD, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine provider who we recommend our patients. Ashlee works with our patients to address all root causes that can contribute to an unhealthy brain, and her prices are very reasonable. She offers hormone testing, gut health testing, and nutritional help. She not only does testing but can help you to restore your health with her expertise.
- Expose yourself to sunlight early in the day for about 30-minutes. This will help to increase your melatonin levels at night.
- Reduce your blue light exposure in the evenings and unplug an hour to two hours before bed, so that your melatonin production isn’t sabotaged.
- Try using a journal or a planner to observe your sleep habits and compare those with how well you feel the next day.
- Don’t exercise too late in the day.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal close to bedtime.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Eat a cleaner diet and improve your gut health. The gut microbiome has been shown to dictate so many aspects of how the brain and body function that it’s now referred to as the “second brain.” It communicates directly to the brain, and vice-versa, via the vagus nerve and greatly affects brain health.
- If you suffer from anxiety or a chattery mind, try writing down your worries and “releasing” them before going to bed. You can also download any one of the numerous calming apps to help you relax.
- Reading before bed is also a great way to relax.
- Avoid excessive alcohol use.
- Turn down the thermostat. Studies have shown that people sleep better and don’t wake up as much throughout the night when the room is cool.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible through the use of black-out drapes or even a sleep mask.
- Try incorporating relaxation techniques such as prayer or meditation into your bedtime routine.
- MeRT Treatment.
Contact our New Patient Coordinator for more Information
When many patients come to see us, they have lost hope as they don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. It’s rewarding as a practitioner to be able to help so many people realize a much better “normal” and a greatly improved quality of life.
If you have questions or would like to discuss our Treatment Protocols, we offer a Free consultation by phone. Our New Patient Coordinator will take the time to listen and explain. She is able to answer most questions and discuss our protocols, scheduling, fees, and other information. She is happy to assist you in any way she can.
Please call us to get more information about how our clinic and Dr. Miller may be able to help you with your health goals and to schedule an initial screening to see if MeRT may be an option.
Unfortunately, we do not accept insurance, nor file it on your behalf. However, we can provide you with CPT codes and a billing breakdown that you may submit to your insurance for possible reimbursement for conditions that have been FDA-approved such as Major Depressive Disorder and OCD. On occasion, individuals have been successful in receiving reimbursement for EEGs and clinical evaluations, and possibly other elements for treatment, depending on the individual’s coverage. It has been our experience that Medicare does not reimburse any of the treatment costs.
For conditions other than Major Depressive Disorder and OCD, because treatment is considered “off-label,” insurance rarely reimburses any of the costs associated with treatment.
Starting as a New Patient
When you start as a new patient at the Brain Treatment Center Dallas, you will initially need two appointments, approximately two days apart. Both appointments will be about an hour in length. These appointments will be used to determine if Dr. Miller feels you can truly benefit from the MeRTSM [Magnetic e-Resonance Treatment] Program and, if so, to develop a tailored treatment plan based on your test results. Once you have done the testing and Consultation, you are not obliged to begin treatment. This is something that you will determine once you have seen your test results and consulted with Dr. Miller.
At the first appointment, we will go over your reasons for seeking help, your medical history, your health goals, and all of your symptoms. You will then begin initial testing, which will involve an EEG and an EKG. These are both completely painless and easy and are done right in our office. Your information and test results are then sent over to our scientific and clinical teams, who will carefully analyze the results and determine the current state and functioning of the brain together with Dr. Miller.
We use a patented, scientific approach with the neurophysiological data gathered through testing to then develop a highly customized treatment plan that is aimed at encouraging healthy brain communication and function.
At your second appointment, you will meet with Dr. Miller for a Consultation. He will discuss your test results and whether or not he and our scientific team feel that results may be achieved for you through our treatment protocol. This appointment will also serve to answer any additional questions you may have. After that second appointment, Dr. Miller will lay out your individualized treatment plan and the protocols to be followed for the best results. At that point, you may discuss fees, length of treatment, and schedules, and then decide whether to go forward and schedule your treatment.
Protocol Adjustments for COVID-19
The Brain Treatment Center Dallas is open for business. In accordance with government regulations and for the safety of our patients, the following procedures have been implemented:
- We respectfully ask that if you are sick or experiencing any symptoms of illness that you postpone your visit until you have been symptom-free for at least 14-days.
- Dr. Miller and our staff are fully vaccinated.
- We are currently unable to see any international patients until you are able to show proof that you have been in the country for at least 10-days.
- Our office is maintaining social-distancing protocols and limit the number of patients in the waiting room.
- We will disinfect the clinic between patient visits in order to keep your risk to a minimum.
- All patients (with the exception of children who are unable) are required to wear masks when entering the clinic. Please note that recent research has shown that some types of masks may not be as effective at reducing disease transmission. Effective immediately, anyone entering our facilities wearing an unapproved mask such as a valve mask, filter mask, neck gaiter, or bandana, will be asked by our screeners to replace it with an approved mask provided by the facility. Those wearing an N95 model with a valve will be allowed to wear a covering mask (disposable or cloth) over the N95.
- Dr. Miller is offering virtual consultations via Spruce or Skype, both of which are HIPAA compliant so that you can have your appointment from the comfort of your own home. These visits are done via telemedicine so Dr. Miller will be visible and right in front of you, just as he would be if you were seeing him in person. If you prefer an in-clinic consultation, we ask that you follow our social distancing protocols.
We value our patients, and want to make sure that you are still able to receive your treatment in a timely manner, however, due to the concerns regarding the Corona Virus, or COVID-19, we ask that you please adhere to the temporary procedures that we have implemented for everyone’s safety.
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