Our Approach

Our unique drug-free approach for sleep disorders combines state of the art assessment with an integrative approach towards remediating the source of your difficulties through functional restoration.   According to the CDC about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems and their resultant effects on wellness. You may have noticed that the concept of wellness means different things to different people.  We define wellness as the pursuit of a lifestyle that produces an overall feeling of well-being through a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit.

Sleep is an integral component of wellness, as seen in the Venn-diagram on the right. Each of the spheres of this diagram represents the functional status of the individual systems foundational to wellness.  Moreover, this diagram depicts that each system affects and is affected by the rest. It is therefore understandable that when one component goes awry, true wellness cannot be maintained.  Let us explore each functional component individually.

•  Neurological Status is founded upon optimal brain development and function, it encompasses emotional, cognitive, mental and spiritual well being.

Read more about brain function and development

Morphogenesis of the brain

We are not born with fully developed brains; brain morphogenesis continues well after birth. The brain grows from back to front and from midline, out. More primitive areas of the brain develop first and the newest areas of the brain, which are responsible for higher-level thinking, develop at a later stage. What makes our brains different from other life forms is not structure alone, but also how our brains function. Functional development of behavioral and cognitive skills too have a specific sequence; as each stage is built upon the last. It stands to reason that if a stage develops aberrantly or is skipped completely, the stages that follow will be affected negatively. In regard to functional deficits which contribute to emotional, behavioral, social, and cognitive problems, there are distinct areas of the brain that play a critical role; the cerebellum, the basal ganglia, the occipital, parietal, temporal and frontal lobes to name a few.

Cerebellum: Located in the back of the brain, the cerebellum was once thought to be responsible only for coordinating and refining movement. We now know that the cerebellum also assists in refining our thought processes. Besides refinement and coordination, the cerebellum’s helps to synchronize activity between the two hemispheres of the brain. The cerebellum in conjunction with the “inferior olivary nuclei” help set the baseline frequency of brain function. If they are out of sync, the rest of the brain’s processing will be out of sync as well.

The Basal Ganglia: As their name suggests, the basal ganglia consist of a set of neural structures buried deep inside the brain. They are closely tied to the reward centers of the brain and play a role in allowing and inhibiting certain actions from occurring. The basal ganglia influence a number of functions. They have been linked to voluntary motor control, procedural learning relating to routine behaviors or “habits”, OCDs, eye movements, tics, as well as cognitive and emotional functions.

Occipital Lobes: A significant functional aspect of the occipital lobe is that it contains the primary visual cortex. The work of the occipital lobe includes visual perception, motion detection and color discrimination.

Parietal Lobes: Within the parietal lobe is the sensory cortex, where the brain reacts to information from touch, pressure, temperature and pain. The parietal lobe plays important roles in integrating sensory information from various parts of the body. It is also integral in the movement of specific body parts. It receives sensory input from the body and eyes which gives feedback to the motor system located in the frontal lobes, this feedback plays a role in coordinating our movements. Portions of the parietal lobe are also involved with visuo-spatial processing.

Temporal Lobes: The temporal lobes lie at the sides of the brain separated by the lateral or Sylvian fissure, the deepest and most prominent of the cortical fissures. The temporal lobe processes auditory input and is primarily involved in deciphering the meaning of auditory and visual information. The temporal lobe is involved in forming hearing and auditory memories and many agree it is primarily responsible for the formation of new memories associated with experiences. Its medial portion called the hippocampus plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation The hippocampus also belongs to the limbic system. The limbic system operates by influencing the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system. It is highly interconnected with the brain’s pleasure center, which plays a role in sexual arousal and the “high” derived from certain recreational drugs. The limbic system is also tightly connected to the prefrontal cortex. Some scientists contend that this connection is related to the pleasure obtained from solving problems. To cure severe emotional disorders, this connection was sometimes surgically severed, a procedure of psychosurgery, called a prefrontal lobotomy (this is actually a misnomer). Patients who underwent this procedure often became passive and lacked all motivation.

Frontal Lobes: Found in the anterior portion of the frontal lobes the prefrontal cortex is the most evolved area of the brain and as such it is the last to develop. This brain region gives an individual the capacity to exercise “good judgment” when presented with difficult life situations. Brain research indicating that brain development is not complete until near the age of 25 refers specifically to the development of the prefrontal cortex. It is often referred to as the “CEO of the brain, as it gradually becomes able to oversee and regulate the behavioral responses initiated by the more primitive limbic structures as well as supervise other complex brain activities. The so-called “executive functions” of the human prefrontal cortex include:

  • Focusing attention
  • Organizing thoughts and problem solving
  • Simultaneously considering multiple streams of information when faced with complex and challenging information
  • Considering the future and making predictions
  • Forming strategies and planning
  • Initiating and halting thoughts and actions
  • Shifting/adjusting behavior when situations change (transitioning)
  • Impulse control and delaying gratification
  • Ability to balance short-term rewards with long term goals
  • Modulation of emotions
  • Inhibiting inappropriate behavior and initiating appropriate behavior
  • Foreseeing and weighing possible consequences of behavior

•  Sleep Status is founded in the timing, the quality and the duration of your sleep.

•  Physical Status is founded in the various bodily systems working in harmony (cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, etc.).

•  Environmental Status is affected by everything you are exposed to both physically and mentally.  Your environment makes you who you are by actually modifying your genes this is called epigenetics.

Read more about epigenetics

How we develop and function is governed by epignetics; environmental influence on genetic expression, signals which turn genes on and off. In a healthy environment, signals will orchestrate the ‘on-and-off switches’ appropriately for healthy brain development. When there is a negative environmental influence, however, there can be a delay in, or a lack of the turning on or off of genes appropriately. This can result in certain aspects of human function being affected negatively.

Negative environmental Influences can be broken down into two types, and three categories. The two types are ‘toxicities’ and deficiencies; you either get too much of something bad or not enough of something good, respectively. The categories are physical, chemical, and emotional. A physical ‘toxicity’ can be seen as an injury at birth.An example of a physical deficiency is lack of movement and exercise. Chemical toxicities for instance, can be the pesticides in our food and water, or simply having too much sugar. Chemical deficiencies are exemplified by a shortage of vitamins, minerals, proteins and water. Stress, as we commonly think of it, is an emotional ‘toxicity’. The lack of encouragement, love, or support can be thought of as an emotional deficiency. We have discussed epigenetics from the negative perspective. Conversely, exposure to the appropriate environment influences can have positive effects on genetic expression, thus helping genes to be turned on and off properly. This lends us the ability to reach our fullest functional potential.

How We Help

We offer hope to those struggling in the form of sensible solutions and nurturing support.  Our unique combination of in center coaching and home training will give you the life changing tools you need.

Free consultation

The best way to learn if Brain Abilities is right for you is to take advantage of a free consultation with one of our Directors.  Just call us at 516.208.9360 and one of our staff members will be happy to block out a time that’s convenient.  This consultation will give us an opportunity to discuss your problem and share the information necessary to make the right decision.

Evaluation

Because sleep disorders can be associated with weaknesses in just about every functional system of the body, a comprehensive assessment is of the utmost importance. Our assessment is specially designed to weed-out the source of your problem.  This process will assess your neurological, sleep, physical and environmental status. We will obtain this data from all or a combination of the following means;

  • Neuro-functional assessment
  • Systemic review
  • Laboratory testing
  • Environmental assessment
  • In-home sleep study

We will then use your data to make a determination of the best course of action; this may include in house options as well as referral for respiratory and/or other interventions.

Remediation

The data collected from your assessment will serve as a blueprint in the architecture of your customized Brain Abilities Sleep Program.  All of our methods will be delivered to specifically target the deficits in your wellness that are causing your sleep issues.  Depending upon where your deficits lie, our method of approach may incorporate the following:

• Neuro-functional restoration 

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Restful sleep requires proper brain function.  For our brains to perform optimally we need all its specialized areas functioning at full capacity, with each at the appropriate rate and rhythm.  Once this occurs we are then able to bind information from various regions of the brain, obtain a complete picture of the task at hand and achieve our full potential.Deficits in underling brain function are responsible for much of humankind’s departures from wellness. Fortunately, years of research has shown the scientific community that certain stimuli affect specific areas of the brain.

Utilized appropriately, specialized brain training can harness the power of neuroplasticity and create true lasting change.

• Neuro-endocrine support 

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Optimal sleep is only possible when the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are in balance. Imbalances in these systems occur as a result of exposure to psychological or physical challenges. Underlying stressors such as mental stress, poor diet, unhealthy lifestyles, infections, environmental toxins, and/or hyper-immunity will alter the Neuro-Endocrine Immune (NEI) balance and lead to symptoms and conditions.Addressing symptoms while identifying and addressing root cause disturbances will restore NEI balance and improve functional outcomes.
• Nutritional support 

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Research has shown that proper nutrition goes hand in hand with fostering optimal function within the brain and body. Diet and nutrition play central roles in wellness and especially sleep because they sustain and modulate the activity of biochemical processes within the body.When sub-optimal or poor, nutrition may predispose to illness and/or exacerbate disease processes.Our nutritional approach is one of moderation when making dietary recommendations and is based on our practical testing and your specific needs.

Our long-term goal is to increase function of all systems within the body, including the digestive system. Thus allowing the body to properly utilize nutrients provided from a healthy diet.

• Sleep hygiene modification 

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Sleep hygiene is the controlling of behavioral and environmental factors that precede sleep and/or interfere with sleep.In an effort to promote daytime alertness and help alleviate or avoid certain kinds of sleep disorders, we have you practice sleep habits that promote more restful, effective sleep.
• Immune support 

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Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a long list of mental and physical health problems, including those that stem from an impaired immune system. Equally, studies have shown that an impaired immune system can wreak havoc on your sleep.We will utilize various means to test and support a healthy immune response.
• Lifestyle modification 

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Lifestyle modification is commonly used in a clinical setting for the management of lifestyle-related health problems. Maladies such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and sleep disorders are greatly influenced by lifestyle choices.You will be provided with lifestyle initiatives geared towards enhancing nutritional status, emotional well-being, physical status and sleep.
• Neuro-emotional support 

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Emotion can be defined as a subjective, conscious experience that is characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states. Emotions can be classified as positive or negative and are reciprocally influenced by temperament, personality, disposition, and neurological status.Dr. Robert Plutchik, renowned psychologist and researcher, considered there to be eight primary emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. He also believed that all other emotions occur as combinations, mixtures, or compounds of the primary emotions.

The neurobiology of emotions has been studied for over a century. This exploration has shown us that specific areas of the brain are involved in the expression and the regulation of our emotions. Moreover, our emotional response to both positive and negative stimuli is greatly dependent upon our neurological status.

Chronic emotional dysregulation and associated emotional disorders have profound effects on sleep.  In fact, anxiety and depression are the two most common causes of insomnia, therefore neuro-emotional regulation may be necessary to achieve proper sleep.

• Photo-therapy 

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Photo-therapy also known as light-therapy or bright light-thrapy is the use of light as a therapeutic tool. It has commonly been used to help mood, depression and sleep disorders as well as other conditions. Exposure to daylight or particular wavelengths of light has direct effects on the brain and the sleep cycle.We utilize particular wavelengths of light, administered for a prescribed amount of time and at a specific time of day to influence the sleep phase. These tools are particularly useful in the remediation of circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
• Physical Fitness 

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Though research shows that exercise is certainly good for one’s body and health, properly timing exercise is necessary to maximize the beneficial effects. For example, a good workout can make you more alert, speed up your metabolism and energize you for the day ahead, but exercise right before bedtime can lead to a poor night’s sleep.We, like most experts recommend exercising at least three hours before bedtime.
• Eastern therapeutic techniques 

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The eastern cultures have long been a great source of natural healing techniques that promote wellness through establishing harmony between the mind body and spirit.The healing properties of techniques such as meridian therapy, meditation, and herbology are well documented and have been found to have beneficial effects on sleep.

Follow-up support

We offer a comprehensive approach, one that is steeped in compassion and ongoing support.  We see it as our responsibility to:

  • Impart the best understanding possible of what’s actually happening and what can be done to help
  • Offer you the tools and techniques you need to create the long-term change you desire
  • Deliver the means and support necessary to achieve that change