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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 20:10 EDT

Brains Of Insomniacs Not As Efficient As Those Who Get Full Night’s Sleep

September 2, 2013
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

The brains of people who suffer from insomnia do not operate as efficiently as those people who get a full night of sleep, researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) report in a new study.

According to BBC News, MRI scans of 25 individuals who said they had trouble sleeping showed they struggled to focus parts of their brain during memory test when compared to 25 others who described themselves as good sleepers.

“People with insomnia not only have trouble sleeping at night, but their brains are not functioning as efficiently during the day,” said Sean Drummond, an associate professor at UCSD and one of the authors of the study, in a recent statement.

“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,” he added. “It is not surprising that someone with insomnia would feel like they are working harder to do the same job as a healthy sleeper.”

As tasks increased in difficultly, those without insomnia were able to allocate more resources to the regions of the brain responsible for working memory, the Huffington Post explained.

However, insomniacs were unable to access those resources, and they were also unable to effectively switch off parts of the brain that were irrelevant to the task at hand, causing the mind to wander, Drummond and his colleagues discovered.

Their findings have been published in the journal Sleep.

“This study suggests PIs [primary insomniacs] have a reduced ability to engage some task-appropriate brain regions and reduced ability to modulate task-irrelevant (i.e., default mode) brain regions during working memory performance,” the authors wrote, according to the Huffington Post.

“If either of our potential explanations for this is correct (PIs require greater attention and/or effort during baseline or PIs are unable to disengage from default mode during active conditions), these phenomena may be experienced by PIs as increased cognitive difficulties,” they added.


Source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online