Study: Why people with insomnia don't know they're asleep


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos





When you can't fall asleep at night, you might explain it as your brain not being able to shut off.

While your brain never truly shuts off, when you do fall asleep, your brain sends inhibitory neurons that help reduce conscious awareness. Normal sleepers often feel like they’ve fallen asleep before their brain is in a scientifically defined state of sleep. But people with insomnia aren't so lucky.

A recent study by Brigham Young University psychology professor Daniel Kay published in Sleep says a dysfunction in the inhibition process could be what causes those with insomnia to have a hard time fully falling asleep.

“Previous studies found that patients with insomnia appear to be asleep — their eyes are closed and their brain is in a characteristic sleep pattern — but you wake them up and guess what they are more likely to tell you? ‘I was awake,’” Kay said.

This problem has traditionally been characterized by sleep scientists as sleep misperception. Kay, however, says that term is based on the assumption that sleep is categorical — either being asleep or being awake — and that when you're asleep, you don't have consciousness.

“I don't think that’s necessarily true,” Kay said. “I think you can be consciously aware and your brain be in a sleep pattern. The question is: What role does conscious awareness have in our definition of sleep?”

The data used for the study was collected via sleep tests with both normal sleepers and sleepers with insomnia. Kay and his colleagues found that when patients reported being awake longer than polysomnography measured, they had greater activity in regions of the brain associated with conscious awareness during non-rapid eye movement sleep.

When good sleepers reported going to sleep before polysomnographic sleep occurred, they too had greater brain activity in the same regions.

Kay suggested that while both patients with insomnia and normal sleepers may experience an inhibition process while falling asleep, patients with insomnia may not perceive being asleep until their brain has a large increase in inhibitory activity in brain regions involved in conscious awareness. Good sleepers, likewise, may experience going to sleep before the objective measure due to greater inhibitory processes in consciousness centers of the brain.

Kay hopes to take these findings and research potential treatments for insomnia.

“In patients with insomnia, processes involved in reducing conscious awareness during sleep may be impaired,” Kay said. “One of the strategies for targeting these processes may be mindfulness meditation. It may help the patients inhibit cognitive processes that are preventing them from experiencing sleep.”

Co-authors from the University of Pittsburgh and the Medical University of South Carolina contributed to the study.

Source: Brigham Young University: news.byu.edu



Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Water Expert Andy Ball: Scaling and Fouling
Fouling refers to the accumulation of unwanted material on solid surfaces, most often in an aquatic environment. The fouling material can consists of either living organisms...
Read more »
Image

Boost your potassium to keep your blood pressure down
Foods that are rich in potassium are important in managing high blood pressure because potassium lessens the effects of sodium. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you...
Read more »
Image

Barryville Butterfly Bike Ride on Sept. 29
BARRYVILLE, N.Y. — The Barryville Butterfly Bike Ride will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 29. It's a 4.6-mile ride...
Read more »
Image

New aquarium and reptile den opens in Scranton
— Take a moment and close your eyes. Imagine being in the deep surrounded by different species of fish, sharks, stingrays, octopus...
Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers



MOST READ

Entertainment
Barryville Butterfly Bike Ride on Sept. 29
  • Sep 22, 2018
Letters to the Editor
'Good Samaritan' law needed for alcohol overdoses too
  • Sep 21, 2018
Cartoons
(No heading)
  • Sep 20, 2018

MOST COMMENTED



Weather in Milford, PA