Slouched Posture, Sleep Deprivation, and Mood Disorders: Interconnection and Modulation by Theta Brain Waves

  • Emma Alexandra Barr The Tarnow Center for Self-Management
  • Erik Peper San Francisco State Univeristy
  • Ronald J Swatzyna The Tarnow Center for Self-Management
Keywords: body posture, REM sleep, mood disorders, theta rhythms, emotional regulation


Factors such as sleep, posture, and diet can impact EEG readings and have physiological and neurological effects that, when in dysfunctional ranges, may increase susceptibility to developing affective mood disorders or other psychiatric issues. Based on an observation of a neurofeedback client generating excessive amounts of theta rhythms while in a slouched posture, we discuss the role of theta rhythms in brain function and emotional regulation. Slouched posture has been strongly correlated with depressive symptoms. Although the precise nature of the relationship between slouched posture, sleep, and depressive symptoms remains unclear, the literature suggests a cyclical, reciprocal dynamic that is modulated by the involvement of theta rhythms. We recommend that neurofeedback practitioners assess their patients’ posture while training, as it could affect the training’s effectiveness. Sleep patterns should be assessed prior to the initiation of neurofeedback; if sleep issues remain a consistent problem, efforts to optimize the biological matrix may be indicated. Simple changes in body posture, diet monitoring, and strategies to reduce sleep deprivation may be helpful.


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