Posts Tagged Brain Training

The Importance of Sleeping for Academic, Athletic Performance

importance of sleeping - sleep and academic performance, sleep and athletic performance(Note: This article was originally published elsewhere, but the content is obviously relevant to our discussions here at the Train Your Brain Blog. Thus, we are re-posting.)

Parents and coaches of students and athletes concerned about improving academic and athletic performance may be missing one of the most important factors, according to one of the co-founders of the Miami-based Brain Training Centers of Florida.

“Sleep may be the most over-looked component of academic and athletic success,” reports Francis J. Flynn, Psy. D., CAP, whose firm helps clients achieve brain balance and homeostasis. “Researchers are constantly pointing to the importance of sleep. The scientific evidence indicates that too many people, especially students, are suffering from various levels of sleep deprivation and their performance is suffering because of it.”

There’s no animal that doesn’t sleep. Even the dolphin – which some used to argue don’t sleep because they keep moving – seem to sleep with one eye closed and one half its brain showing the slow waves characteristic of deep sleep.

“At Brain Training Centers our programs of neuro-feedback allow clients to quickly improve the quality and quantity of their sleep and their moods and personal performance – academically, at work and in sports – quickly reflects the difference.”

In a study of six healthy members of the Stanford University men’s basketball team, athletes who got extra sleep were more likely to improve their performance in a game. The Stanford study, authored by Cheri Mah, found significant improvements in athletic performance, including faster sprint times and increased free throw percentages, when the student athletes were encouraged to obtain as much extra sleep as possible. The athletes also indicated an improvement in mood associated with increased sleep.

From researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, comes a report that sleep helps clear room in the brain for new learning. Synapses are the connecting points between brain cells; they’re the junctures where nerve cells communicate with each other. Scientists have long believed that the creation of new synapses is one of the most important ways the brain encodes or develops memories and learning.

Thanks to fruit flies, which mature very rapidly, have very short lives and have sleep similar to human sleep, scientists are able to track the creation of new synapses during learning experiences and show that sleep appears to allow synapses to strengthen or consolidate information learned during the day; during sleep these synapses associated with important information rest and stay health while synapses formed by inessential day-to-day experiences appear to drop off. It’s a complex process built around the action of specific proteins in the synapses. But the critical idea is that these synapses grow stronger while we are awake and learning and sleep refreshes the brain by bringing the synapses back to a lower level of strength. Sleep allows the brain to save energy, space and material and clear away useless or unnecessary “noise” from the previous day. As a result, the well-rested brain is ready to learn more the next morning.

It appears that even the most unimportant experiences of the day cause the formation of synapses. When we sleep, these unimportant synapses are discarded by the brain – making room for the next day’s new synapses.

Chiara Cirelli and Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health point out that sleep is strictly regulated by the brain, because sleep deprivation is followed by a rebound – we either sleep longer or spend more time in the deeper sleep characterized by large slow brain waves. They argue that sleep is critical to brain plasticity – the ability of the brain to continue to grow and change throughout our lives. Cirelli and Tononi believe that sleep allows the brain to regroup after a hard day of learning by giving the synapses, which increase in strength during the day, a chance to rest or damp down to baselines levels during sleep. Because the brain uses up to 80 percent of its energy to sustain synaptic activity, sleep is important in allowing the brain to renew itself.

At St. Lawrence University (Canton, N.Y.) associate professor of psychology Pamela Thacher studied 111 students and found that students who regularly pulled all-nighters had lower GPAs and, while procrastination is not associated with all-nighters, both practices – procrastination and all-nighters – were significantly correlated with lower GPAs.

At the University of North Texas, researcher Kendry Clay studied 824 undergraduates and found that “morning types” had higher GPAs than “evening types.” And, at the University of Minesota Boynton Health Service Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the director and chief health officer, reporting on the most comprehensive study of college students’ health in the nation, found a direct link between students’ health and their academic achievement. In the study of 9,931 students from 14 Minnesota colleges and universities, students who reported having fewer nights of adequate sleep had a mean GPA of 3.08 compared with a 3.27 mean GPA for students who did not report sleep deficiencies.

One solution for students who have a difficult time falling asleep: white noise. Central Michigan University psychology professor Carl Johnson and LeAnne Forquer, now a member of the psychology faculty at Delta State Univesity in Cleveland, Miss., found that the use of continuous white noise may help college students sleep better and was effective for students with self-reported sleep problems to decrease difficulty in falling asleep and night-wakings.

If you’re the parent or a relative of an otherwise healthy (not overweight or obese) teen who’s always tired, orthodontist and researcher Mark Hans, DDS, MSD of Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine in Cleveland may have discovered the reason why he can never get enough sleep: Check the formation of his hyoid bone, which helps to support the tongue and serves as an attachment point for several muscles that help to elevate the larynx during swallowing and speech. Hans found that the same x-rays teens get before getting braces can help correctly identify 70 percent of teens with sleep apnea, a chronic condition that causes people to stop breathing during sleep – and often leaves them tired during the day.

Teens whose hyoid bones sit higher are not at risk for sleep apnea; the lower the bone, the greater the risk of the condition. Early and proper diagnosis can make early treatment – and the avoidance of many problems – possible. And, radiological evaluation is relatively inexpensive – about $100 – when compared to the $1000 or more it might cost for an evaluation in a sleep lab.

Posted in: Featured, Sleep Issues

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Brain Training and Athletic Training: Get in ‘The Zone’

The Brain Training Centers of Florida is a sponsor for The International Wake Board Championships. The following article appeared in the program for the event:

More than two centuries after Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, declared “A strong body makes the mind strong,” a Miami counselor is telling sportsmen “A well-trained brain can make a well-trained athlete even better.”

“The field of Sports Psychology is barely a century old, but the truly effective training of the body and the brain to work as a unit is a whole new field,” reports Francis J. Flynn, Psy.D., co-founder and director of Brain Training Centers of Florida.

sports psychology - brain state conditioning - athletic training“Traditionally, the world’s best athletes – divers, swimmers, pitchers, basketball players, golfers, and others – had to work for years to be able to get ‘in the zone’ at the critical moment in competition. Today, high powered laptops and specialized computer programs allow athletes to strengthen the bond between brain and body in ways never dreamed of – even ten years ago.”

“Until recently we believed that by adolescence the brain was fully developed and unchanging. Today we know that the brain can change and develop – in a sense actually get stronger – all through life. With repetition of everything from sinking free throws, sticking dives and/or flip turns or perfectly hitting a ski jump, athletes of all ages can change specific areas of their brains,” said Flynn, who has counseled an Olympic silver medalist in platform diving and a world champion springboard diver. “It’s one of the most significant new principles of neuropsychology and athletic training. We call it ‘neuroplasticity,’ the idea that throughout our lives our brains can continue to change.”

Athletic excellence demands the carefully coordinated interaction between the brain and the body. Skilled athletes must, at one and the same time, quiet their brains to block out all distractions and use their brains to deliver specific instructions to the muscle groups involved in their sport to achieve precise movements. “From the perspective of the brain, the Olympics were exciting because of how marvelously athletes were able to achieve perfect brain-body coordination,” said Flynn.

The Brain Training Centers of Florida use the Brain State Conditioning (BSC) systems of Brain State Technologies. BSC is a personalized, computer-driven type of brain optimization computer program based on the brain’s ability to observe and direct itself into an ever more balanced and healthy state. Brain Training Centers’ clients can learn to quiet and focus their brains in order to accomplish specific sports-related tasks and, at the same time, achieve optimal levels of physical performance. In addition to athletes, BTC of Florida also works with individuals experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sleep problems, and a wide range of other issues.

Posted in: Brain Wave Optimization, Featured, Neuroplasticity

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Improving a Lack of Energy Through Brain Training

Improving Lack of Energy Through Brain TrainingExcess energy in the brain is often the cause of an individual’s problems with a lack of physical energy due to the obvious reason that excess energy patterns in the brain cause an individual to burn extra energy in order to maintain the excess energy patterns in the brain.

Excess energy patterns are easily seen in many brain map patterns. During the brain mapping, we can often determine if the excess energy patterns were generated from neuro-networks developed in-utero through early childhood, in the early development years, during adolescence, during the teenage years, during early adulthood, or during adulthood.  Excess energy is often present in all of these phases of human development. Wherever it is, our process helps reduce the amount of excess energy presentin the brain.

Another reason for Lack of Energy is hormone imbalances. Whenever we encounter this issue, we recommend that the client see an endocrinologist.

In our process of Brain Training we perform an electroencephalogram mapping the energy flow in the brain. From the brain map we can determine the areas of the brain which contain elevated or reduced amounts of brain energy required to function normally. By training the brain to reduce, increase or balance the amount of energy flowing through the appropriate neural centers to help reduce or eliminate the flow of brain waves our process helps allow more energy with which an individual can function.

Posted in: Brain Mapping, Brain Training

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Reducing Chronic Pain Through Brain State Conditioning

Reducing Chronic Pain With Brain State ConditioningWhile there are a variety of reasons we experience pain, one of the primary reasons is that pain is the brain’s tool for causing you to stop utilizing a certain area of the body until the brain and body systems can heal that area of the body. Unfortunately, some injuries/illnesses cause damage that may not be repaired anytime soon; or, the pain itself is inhibiting your ability to heal.

Pain travels along the nervous system of the body up through the spinal cord into the neural pathways of the brain. A large component of pain may also be the response of the muscular system that is in the proximity of the pain. Often, the muscles close to the nerves that are transmitting the pain spasm or constrict very tightly to protect the area. These muscle spasms or constrictions can cause direct pain or can cause the skeletal system to be pulled out of alignment; thus causing further pain and damage.

In our process of Brain Training we perform an electroencephalogram mapping the energy flow in the brain. From the brain map we can determine the areas of the brain that contain elevated amounts of energy due to the pain. By training the brain to reduce the amount of energy flowing through the appropriate neural centers, the pain tends to dissipate. Many clients have come in with surgeries being recommended due to chronic pain and have been able to reduce the pain they have substantially enough to not need the surgeries.

Posted in: Brain Training, Chronic Pain

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Improving Chronic Fatigue Through Brain Training

Improving Chronic Fatigue Through Brain TrainingChronic Fatigue is usually a symptom of other problems. Fatigue can be caused by many of other issues (many of them listed on our website and blog). Accordingly, when you correct those issues, sleeping improves, which improves fatigue.

Fatigue can also be directly caused by the brain not being able to quiet down enough to allow sleep. By brain training, many people have found that they can train their brains to quiet down when needed and therefore deal with their fatigue issues more effectively.

Hormone imbalances often play a big role in causing fatigue. We always recommend seeing an endocrinologist regarding fatigue issues.

In our process of Brain Training, we perform an electroencephalogram mapping the energy flow in the brain. From the brain map we can determine the areas of the brain which contain elevated amounts of energy due the issues which are inhibiting sleep. By training the brain to reduce the amount of energy flowing through the appropriate neural centers, the issues with sleep and fatigue tend to dissipate.

Posted in: Brain Training, Fatigue

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Treating Brain Injuries with Brain Training

Treating Brain Injuries with Brain TrainingIn our process of Brain Training we perform an electroencephalogram mapping the energy flow in the brain. From the brain map we can determine the areas of the brain which contain elevated or reduced amounts of energy due to the brain injury.

By training the brain to reduce, increase or balance the amount of energy flowing through the appropriate neural centers, the brain will repair the injured area or create a new neuro-pathway system to “rewire” the brain to achieve the same function which is lost due to the injury.

Accordingly, the brain training can and often does significantly improve the functioning of the entire human body, regardless of the condition causing it to be malfunctioning.

If you are in need of treatment for a brain injury, contact one of our Brain Training professionals today for a consultation:

Posted in: Brain Mapping, Brain Training

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Manage and Reduce Anger Through Brain Training

Manage and Reduce Anger Through Brain TrainingAnger problems are easily seen in many brain map patterns. During the brain mapping, we can often determine if the anger is generated from neuro-networks developed in-utero, through early childhood, in the early development years, during adolescence, during the teenage years, during early adulthood, or during adulthood.  Anger is often present in all of these phases of human development. Wherever it is, our Brain Training process helps you manage and reduce the amount of anger present.

In our process of Brain Training, we perform an electroencephalogram mapping the energy flow in the brain. From the brain map we can determine the areas of the brain that contain elevated or reduced amounts of energy due to the anger. By training the brain to reduce, increase or balance the amount of energy flowing through the appropriate neural centers, we help you to reduce or eliminate the flow of brain waves that are carrying thoughts of anger.

The first neuro-pathways affected are those which cause the brain-body connection to change the body chemistry in accordance with the brain wave patterns. This reduces the induction of adrenalin and the increase in blood pressure which often accompanies anger. Accordingly, the emotion of anger is more effectively managed, and is reduced significantly.

Posted in: Anger, Brain Mapping, Brain Training

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