Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatr. Oct 19, 2021; 11(10): 897-914
Published online Oct 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i10.897
Neurofeedback for insomnia: Current state of research
Florence Lambert-Beaudet, William-Girard Journault, Alexandre Rudziavic Provençal, Célyne H Bastien
Florence Lambert-Beaudet, William-Girard Journault, Alexandre Rudziavic Provençal, Department of Psychology, Laval University, Québec G1V0A6, Canada
Célyne H Bastien, Department of Psychology, School of Psychology Laval University, Québec G1V0A6, Canada
Author contributions: Lambert-Beaudet F wrote the paper and performed the literature search; Journault WG and Provençal AR collected the data; Bastien CH reviewed the paper.
Conflict-of-interest statement: Ms. Lambert-Beaudet reports personal fees from Neuroperforma, outside the submitted work. The other authors declare having no conflict of interests for this article.
PRISMA 2009 Checklist statement: The authors have read the PRISMA 2009 Checklist, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the PRISMA 2009 Checklist.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Célyne H Bastien, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology, School of Psychology Laval University, Bastien, Québec G1V0A6, Canada.
Received: February 27, 2021
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.

Keywords: Sleep, Insomnia, Hyperarousal, Biofeedback, Neurofeedback, Neurotherapy

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.