The Brain and Sleep: Insomnia’s Troubling Contribution
Imagine your worst night of sleep. No matter how hard you close your eyes, your mind races with a million thoughts, your body can’t find the perfect position, and before you know it, it is time to get ready for a new day. Now, imagine that one sleepless night becomes a recurring situation. This is insomnia and its effect on the mind (that big old brain of yours) is substantial.
How Insomnia Takes Its Toll on the Brain
It’s not that hard to understand how insomnia can have a negative impact on your life. It’s a key sleeping disorder. This condition prevents people from falling asleep at night, causing daytime sleepiness and anxiety. Some have been known to experience hallucinations if their condition becomes chronic.
In a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), researchers were able to pinpoint which regions of the brain are altered in patients with insomnia. By comparing and monitoring the brain activity of patients with and without insomnia, they were able to gain some insights.
“While patients with insomnia often have their symptoms trivialized by friends, families and even physicians, the findings in this study add strong evidence to the emerging view that insomnia is a condition with neurobiological as well as psychological causes,” said Dr. Buysse, professor of psychiatry and clinical and translational science, and the UPMC Professor of Sleep Medicine.
They discovered that the regions of the brain that help self-awareness, contemplation, and mood did not work properly. Another interesting insight is that the brain does not completely “shut off” when sleep. Certain regions stay active. This may be to help recall, memory, and other important functions.
Unfortunately, they were unable to decipher whether or not insomnia is the cause of these dysfunctions or if the altered brain activity in these areas is causing the troubling condition. Hopefully, the researchers can find the answer in the future. For now, those with insomnia need to see a doctor
in order to receive care and return to a good quality of life.