NOT everyone wants to pop a pill when he or she can't fall asleep. If counting sheep and a warm glass of milk won't do it for you, you might want to try one of the more intriguing insomnia remedies: brain music therapy.
Developed a decade ago in Russia, it involves recording the brain's electrical activity, or brain waves, via an EEG, during a time when you're most relaxed - and transforming those same waves into synthesized musical sounds, which are recorded on a CD and played back at bedtime.
The theory is that listening to your brain at rest helps your mind to relax into sleep.
Sound bizarre? You should see Dr. Galina Mindlin wire up someone.
Mindlin, a Columbia University neuropsychiatrist who acquired the rights to the therapy a year ago, has so far treated about 100 insomniacs, myself included.
"Every brain has certain healing brain-wave patterns," she says. "When you play them back, it helps you go to dreamland faster."
The process, which costs $350, is painless and quick: At her East Side office, you sit serenely, eyes closed, as she attaches plastic netting and electrodes to your head. (One patient reportedly sent out an image of himself wired up that way as a Christmas card.)
Fifteen minutes later, Mindlin has an EEG printout, which is converted into synthesized musical tones and chords of varying tempos. Two to three weeks later, your brain music CD is ready. You're supposed to listen to it all the way through, twice, as soon as you get into bed.
A small (18-person) double-blind study at the University of Toronto showed that brain music - your own or even someone else's - seems to have some impact on sleep, but the process is still pretty new and fairly untested.
At least one sleep-disorder specialist - Dr. Susan Zafarlotfi, director of the Sleep/Wake Disorder Clinic at Hackensack University Medical Center - says the idea makes sense, "but does it work for everyone, 100 percent of the time? I don't know.
"There are some people who can put themselves in a trance state, others can't," she continues. "If someone has listless leg syndrome, or some other physiological disorder like sleep apnea," brain music therapy may not be as effective, she says.
I downloaded my music onto my iPod. While it won't win a Grammy - it's like a klutzy, keyboard version of Bach meets John Cage - I've been sleeping better since.
For more infomation, visit brainmusictreatment.com
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