Do you think of insomnia as solely a night disorder? You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that. Contrary to this popular belief, scientists are finding that insomnia is a 24-hour condition. It’s not just your sleepless night causing you to have a bad day. It’s your day causing your sleepless night. It’s a loop that your brain gets into that needs to be broken.Psychology Today has an informative article by Michael J. Breus Ph.D. on a number of recent studies on insomnia. Using EEG, researchers measured brain activity during wakeful, resting states, both with eyes open and eyes closed. They found that people with insomnia displayed:
- Less powerful alpha-wave activity in the frontal and temporal lobes (with eyes open). Alpha waves indicate restfulness.
- More powerful beta-wave activity throughout the brain (with eyes closed). Greater beta wave activity indicates hyper-arousal.
In a nutshell, daytime hyper-arousal of the brain carries over into nighttime, resulting in insomnia.
Scientists at the University of Michigan found that daytime alertness and anxiety were the only predictors for the use of prescription sleep medication. However, they also note that, “insomnia patients who used prescription sleep aids showed no significant improvement to their sleep at the one-year follow up compared to people with insomnia who didn’t take sleep medication.” And according to researchers at Penn State University, this 24-hour hyper-arousal can start at a young age.
Will easing your day-time anxiety help you overcome insomnia? It can certainly help. Many people have also found relief from CBT-I (Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia). It breaks the cycle by retraining your brain.
If you suffer from insomnia, check with your physician. If no physical causes can be found for your insomnia, it’s time to enlist the help of a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.