Many insomniacs complain that they cannot switch their thinking and brain off during the night, and that this is what keeps them awake.
A new study now shows why they’re actually right.
But it’s not in the way of a psychological problem where you can’t control your worries or concern. It’s actually the hard wiring of your brain.
A research team from the University of Pittsburgh has just published an article in the journal Sleep that explains a key difference between the physical brain function of insomniacs and good sleepers.
They recruited 44 insomniacs and 40 good sleepers to enable them to measure and compare the activity levels of different parts of their brains during wakefulness and deep sleep (non-REM sleep.)
Most parts of the brains of the good sleepers turned on during wakefulness and off during deep sleep.
In contrast, some regions of the insomniacs’ brains remained active at a moderate level during both wakefulness and sleep. The specific brain regions were those responsible for thinking, self-awareness, and emotions.
These regions actually operated at higher than normal levels during deep sleep, and at lower than normal levels during wakefulness.
The researchers couldn’t quite decide whether their findings meant these regions were insufficiently active during the day, or overactive during the night, or possibly both.
Regardless, the study does prove that these regions of the brains of insomniacs are improperly activated and/or deactivated.
As such, it shows that insomnia is not a straightforward psychological problem, but rather one in which neurobiological factors are involved, too.
The researchers cautioned against interpreting their study as proof that impaired brain activity caused insomnia. It is also compatible with the idea that insomniacs’ chattering minds change their physical brain function.
The causal relationship could also run both ways. Your chattering mind causes physical changes in your brain, which then perpetuates your chattering mind.
This study is useful because it shows why some psychological therapies like mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy work for insomniacs; it may change the way in which their brains activate different regions during wakefulness and sleep.
But first, I’d really appreciate it if you click the Facebook button below and share this articles with your friends.