Here is an article that discusses delta brain waves and what happens when they are too low or too high.
My older son continues to have too high delta, a neurological problem caused by Lyme Disease. One way this manifests that was discovered on EEG during the neurofeedback sessions is when my son sleeps more than 7-8 hours his delta is even higher and we all see negative results such as increased irritibility with 99.9% chance of multiple anger blow-ups, general disagreeability, gloomy moods and nasty interpersonal relations, and worse struggles to learn that day. His best delta waves were after sleeping only six hours, a low amount for a growing teen boy in the growth spurt of puberty, according to the medical doctor experts. Last year we made a concerted effort to have him wake up after getting just eight hours sleep to prevent the delta from getting too high. The amount of sleep he needs is also impacted by his intense sport with practice three hours a day - meaning he supposedly needs more sleep than a non-athlete teen. One goal of the neurofeedback is attempting to lower the delta waves.
This year keeping consistent sleeping hours for going to bed and waking up in the morning is not going so well. My husband has refused to comply with this and continually allows our son to sleep late on Sundays, thinking this is a kind thing to do. Thanks to three neighbor's dog barking problems which are worse on weekends, I often am up in the middle of the night unable to sleep then go back to sleep at some point and sleep in to ten or sometimes eleven, and on these days my husband lets our sons sleep late. Then when I wake up, I have a freak out inside when I realize what he's done, and I wake our older son up and sure enough, we all have to deal with the negative effects of his too-high delta for the entire day.
Knowing the brain science behind certain behaviors is cool but in the end it doesn't help much. No matter that the problems are caused by Lyme Disease or too much sleep causing even higher delta waves that day, there is nothing we can do that day to reverse either thing, and we just have to deal with it and wait the day out until the next night which seems to be a time that the reset button is set.
It is also especially important that my son try to avoid triggers that will impair sleep. He has discovered a link between drinking soda, consuming sugar, dairy, and even some wheat at night seems to either make him unable to go to sleep in the beginning of the night, or he wakes in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep, then eventually does and wakes up much later than usual with the too high delta. The dog barking was a problem for him at 5:10 the morning I'm writing this, as it was a problem for me, that's how I know the exact time the barking began!
Also hard to deal with is the fact that my husband does not completely buy into the idea that food can affect mood or behavior or energy levels or hamper the ability to think clearly; we just discussed this again last night and he said he doesn't believe it. My own body is starting to react to certain foods such as by putting me in an irritible mood or making me feel sluggish or by giving me anxiety so I now understand that it is real. In the same conversation he told me that fully eliminating certain trigger foods that are common in the Standard American Diet is too hard to do on a long-term basis. I tried explaining that if a person wants to live feeling well or reducing the effect of a disease they have (i.e. high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes) they have to choose to eliminate some foods, or face living with a full blown disease. My husband didn't want to hear it.
When a person who is negatively affected by certain things, some factors they can control and some things they cannot control, the best you can do is try to control what you do have control of. YOu can't control those dogs barking but you can control what you eat when you know you need sleep and drinking sugar and caffiene drinks will not allow you to sleep.
Despite my son knowing those food triggers he still is not nearly 100% compliant, the other day he had a soda at night at the robotics team meeting and could not fall asleep til midnight. Last night he probably had something while out on his date that he should not have (I have not inquired yet). At a party last weekend he ate two dessert things which were two oreos with peanut butter smeared in between them then buried inside a cupcake sized brownie, and although exhausted he was unable to fall asleep at night and woke up irritable.
I wish my son made the right choices all the time but he's a teenager and he, like other teens, does not always do the right thing. Heck, adults don't always make the right choices, so why should we expect teens to? My son also seems to have less of an ability to act in the better way despite feeling crappy (such as adults do when they have to go to work and are in pain from a bad headache or menstrual cramps). This is because teens are still developing self-regulation and in boys the impulse control area of the brain is still under development. I want my son to do the responsible thing but how can I hold him to a higher standard than his teenage brain is capable?
I just wish that my son's bad choices did not negatively affect the whole family. The only remedy for the behavior, according to the neurofeedback psychologist counselor is to keep family rules in place for behavior and actions and when they are broken (for whatever reason) there is a negative consequence doled out. I still feel like this is a punishment system despite the therapist saying it is just administering consequences and is not a punishment. Semantics?
Those who do not live with situations like this and who do not have food allergies or food sensitivities have no clue what this is like. It is hard waking up in the moring in a good mood then realizing you have devil child with you for the day and the whole house is affected by the one "spinning".
I shared this story because I felt like venting and perhaps someone out there needed to know that other kids and parents go through this. Perhaps someone didn't know this is a biological brain based issue driven by delta waves, and now you do. Our situation is even more complicated by too high delta and by food sensitivities or food allergies. It's hard to live like this let alone to homeschool through this.