Published online Oct 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i10.897
Peer-review started: February 27, 2021
First decision: May 5, 2021
Revised: May 18, 2021
Accepted: August 27, 2021
Article in press: August 27, 2021
Published online: October 19, 2021
Chronic insomnia affects about 6%-13% of the Canadian population. Although treatments already exist, they each have their own issues. Neurofeedback is a neuromodulation technique that specifically targets abnormal brain activity and is gaining attention as a possible insomnia treatment.
To review the latest studies pertaining to the use of neurofeedback in the treatment of insomnia.
In this non-systematic review, only experimental studies assessing the effects of neurofeedback on patients with insomnia were targeted across four bibliographic databases.
A total of 12 studies were retained. All neurofeedback studies included in this study showed a clear improvement of subjective sleep. However, data concerning objective improvement are contradictory. Most studies regarding surface and z-score neurofeedback show that neurofeedback targeting the sensorimotor rhythm in the sensorimotor cortex may help improve subjective sleep. A placebo effect seems also to be present in some studies. Several limitations were present in each study.
While studies concerning neurofeedback as a treatment for insomnia are encouraging, many methodological barriers remain to be resolved to prove its efficacy unequivocally. More studies using robust design parameters, as well as the replication of existing studies, are necessary to support neurofeedback as an effective treatment for insomnia.
Core Tip: Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is extremely prevalent in the general population. The current treatments offered tend to ignore the neurological marker of insomnia. Neurofeedback is a type of neurotherapy that is based on training one’s electrical brain activity to treat multiple ailments including insomnia. In this review, we discuss the different studies that have been published in the last few years concerning the use of neurofeedback to treat insomnia and what needs to be improved in this domain of research.