Insomniacs' brains lose focus, scans suggest

 
Woman with insomnia

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Brain scans of people who say they have insomnia have shown differences in brain function compared with people who get a full night's sleep.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, said the poor sleepers struggled to focus part of their brain in memory tests.

Other experts said that the brain's wiring may actually be affecting perceptions of sleep quality.

The findings were published in the journal Sleep.

People with insomnia struggle to sleep at night, but it also has consequences during the day such as delayed reaction times and memory.

The study compared 25 people who said they had insomnia with 25 who described themselves as good sleepers. MRI brain scans were carried out while they performed increasingly challenging memory tests.

One of the researchers, Prof Sean Drummond, said: "We found that insomnia subjects did not properly turn on brain regions critical to a working memory task and did not turn off 'mind-wandering' brain regions irrelevant to the task.

"This data helps us understand that people with insomnia not only have trouble sleeping at night, but their brains are not functioning as efficiently during the day."

A sleep researcher in the UK, Dr Neil Stanley, said that the quality of the sleep each group was having was very similar, even though one set was reporting insomnia.

He said: "What's the chicken and what's the egg? Is the brain different and causing them to report worse sleep?

"Maybe they're perceiving what happened in the night differently; maybe what is affecting their working memory and ability to focus on the task at hand is also causing insomnia."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 168.

    The HYS team do not start work very early do they?
    Do hope its not down to sleep problems. If it is perhaps they should talk to the Head of HR. Better be quick though, she's not leaving under a cloud though.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 167.

    I go to sleep quickly most of the time but always wake up after 4-5 hours then doze the rest of the night until I have to get up. Other nights I cannot sleep at all. During the day at work or home I have periods when I can't keep my eyes open. Not a good state for office work!! But as below I think I have to come to terms with it and accept that is me.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 166.

    Rest comes not from the quantity but from the quality of sleep.
    Sleep little without regret.

    Gurdjieff

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 165.

    162.philpho

    Could someone explain the relevance of the partly dressed young lady in what looks like bed, during the day looking at her digital clock - radio? Is she unable to go to work, so clambered back into bed to contemplate her temporal malaise or ?? listening to a programme on sleep loss having gone 'pink'?
    ===
    I think it's poetic license - if it was dark we wouldn't be able to see her.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 164.

    This comment section has been open all night, were we being experimented on?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 163.

    51.Daniel

    The forces are the *same* (Newton's 3rd Law)
    ===
    No, you're wrong. The greater the mass, the greater the gravitational attraction.
    ====
    F = g*m1*m2/r^2 where m1 and m2 are the masses, r the distance between and g a constant. The forces are equal (and opposite).

    F = m*a, where a is acceleration: a1 = F/m1 and a2 = F/m2, so acceleration is greater the smaller the mass.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 162.

    Could someone explain the relevance of the partly dressed young lady in what looks like bed, during the day looking at her digital clock - radio? Is she unable to go to work, so clambered back into bed to contemplate her temporal malaise or ?? listening to a programme on sleep loss having gone 'pink'?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 161.

    For many years, I took insomnia to be just "part of me", amazed and envious at people who could fall asleep within 10 minutes of lying down. It was a revelation to discover (on GP recommendation) the occasional sleeping tablet. Suddenly I discover my head could wind down at night instead of processing hundreds of little details. I can still deal with a child at 4am - but then fall asleep again!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 160.

    Suffered for over 20yrs wake every 2/3 hrs

    Impairment of life and healthy functioning incredible as knock on effect

    when your world is quiet (sleep time) it becomes the noisiest place as mind 'self chatter' is endless

    it causes a destructive circle of health issues that's hard to describe as the mind/body falls out of sync and emotional/physical resistance to life and stress almost zero

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 159.

    I find it very easy to fall and stay asleep though i wake up after 8 hours (habits) but if i don't get up then i can easily sleep for another 5 hours. My point is that even i sometimes have trouble falling asleep if i go bed thinking about something, electronics on in the room, inconsistent noises. Try to limit these first.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 158.

    My three year old grandson behaves less cooperatively during the days that he arrives at 8am than when he comes at 10am. He will whine, scream, fidget, jump and runs. He cannot take a nap. Sleep deprivation in kids is described as being "like ADD". In the 50's and 60's young kids were in bed by 7pm. Parents who work, would be kinder to kids, if they began the sleep routine earlier

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 157.

    Before electricity, sleep time was divided into two distinct periods, with some wake time in between. Wish it were like that now, since I have trouble getting back to sleep in the pre-dawn hours. Marley's Green or Black Tea works well for helping one relax and fall asleep, but staying asleep is another story..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 156.

    Individuality of Humanity at work.Add your comment...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 155.

    154. D Ell

    Or just the presence of white noise? It's been proven that white noise aids children to fall asleep...why not adults?

    I think the posts so far have established that it's mental activity that mostly causes insomnia, irrelative of physical tiredness.

    I used to fall asleep as a teenager listening to heavy metal music, because to me it was comforting, like a mental baby blanket.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 154.

    Angry of Garston wonders why he/she can fall asleep while watching tv but it usually takes an hour to fall asleep even when "knackered "
    Could the explanation be cumulative exhaustion due to the previous night`s lack of sleep ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 153.

    I have always slept for only 3 to 4 hours a night. When I was at university this was a blessing, now it is not a problem. I know that is all I need and sort my life around it. I have more time to do things.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 152.

    For anyone who thinks insomnia is a bit of a whinge or excuse, or the equivalent of "migraine" when you only have a headache, or "flu" when you have a cold...just as an experiment, try having no sleep (and I mean none whatsoever, not just broken or light) for 5 days whilst trying to function as a normal human being and see what effect that has on your mental and physical health. Then judge.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 151.

    "But force extered on Earth by ball is vastly smaller than force exerted on ball by Earth"

    The forces are the *same* (Newton's 3rd Law)

    =====

    No, you're wrong. The greater the mass, the greater the gravitational attraction. This is why the moon and the earth have different gravitational force; why you jump higher and longer on the moon with the same effort.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 150.

    I used to have insomnia, but now that I work 12 hour days and have 2 kids I can nod off in a flash and I am grateful for every minute that can be spared for sleep.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 149.

    I stuggle to sleep most nights as I find I not only get bouts of insomnia but also feel naturally nocturnal which prevents me from settling down at night. I find I'm not thinking about things I just don't feel tired. This i interesting as I do struggle with normal tasks which involve memory and I have had sleeping problems my entire life. This could explain why I struggled in school.

 

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