Daytime Insomnia: How Sleep Disorders Impact the Whole Day
Author: Justin Mckibben
It is safe to say the majority of people have experienced some level of insomnia symptoms first hand. Whether it is having a hard time getting to sleep, or repeatedly waking up through the night. Most people seem to think that insomnia is only has any impact during their nighttime hours, but the truth is that the daytime impression we feel from insomnia is quite significant.
Even scientists assumed for a long time that insomnia was exclusively a bedtime problem, but now emerging research has indicated that insomnia also exists round-the-clock with consequences for the quality of life, health and productivity of individuals who struggle.
With sleeping medications being a commonly abused substance, we thought we could take a look at how insomnia impacts us and acknowledge new hope for a change in the way we treat sleeping disorders.
Data from studies on sleep disorders has recently shown that the familiar psychological characteristics of insomnia are not just influencing our sleep, but that they exist throughout our waking hours. Now sleep specialists and scientists are paying even closer attention to the waking physiology of insomnia as the move toward understanding insomnia as a 24-hour condition.
A research team recently investigated the brain activity of patients with insomnia during their wakeful, resting states. This team consisted of scientists from areas including:
- The Netherlands
As far as the outline of the group being studied:
- 94 patients altogether
- Most of the study participants were female
- Between ages 21-70 years old
Candidates were screened to eliminate the presence of:
- Other sleep conditions
- Neurological conditions
- Psychological conditions
The researchers measured brain activity during waking but restful states using EEG. To add depth they conducted the studies with eyes open and eyes closed, then they compared the test results to a control group without insomnia.
Beta-wave activity in the brain is a sign of neurological activity and arousal. Beta-waves relate to:
- Mental and cognitive engagement
Greater beta wave activity indicates a brain that is attentive and alert, and a mind that is engaged. According to the study, people with insomnia displayed greater levels of arousal and displayed more powerful beta-wave activity. When it came to people with eyes shut, they showed more powerful Beta-waves in the whole brain.
Alpha waves are indicators of a brain, and mind, significantly more at rest. They are associated with the absence of arousal in the mind. People with insomnia displayed less power in alpha waves than those without insomnia in at least two different areas of the brain, within the frontal and temporal lobes with their eyes open.
What does it all mean?
If you’re like me, reading through this data can be confusing. The point they are driving at is that the hyperarousal commonly associated with insomnia at night is also present during the day. People with insomnia display higher Beta-waves and lower Alpha-waves than other people even when they are awake, so the brain is extremely active during waking and resting hours, exhausting it.
Similar studies have also indicated with people as young as adolescents with insomnia experience greater Beta-wave activity in the brain when they are both asleep and awake.
The evidence is all pointing to the idea that the hyperactivity in the minds reaction to Beta-waves depicts insomnia as a condition with altered neurological activity that emerges not only during the nighttime when people try to sleep, but actually occur all day long.
This means a day filled with an alert, active and frequently anxious mind may prove to be contributing to the alert, active and anxious mind at night. A new understanding of insomnia could help scientists develop better treatment solutions outside of prescription sleeping drugs which can ultimately lead to dependence and even abuse. Maybe if we learn to address the brain on a more holistic level, we can overcome the need for drugs that put people to sleep and rely on a more balanced mind.
Getting a healthy sleep regiment for yourself is important to your mental and physical health, and some people are so desperate for sleep they resort to less than healthy strategies to get it. Sometimes insomnia points toward a deeper issue, and sometimes the drugs are a bigger part of the problem.
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