Insomnia is a sleep disorder where there is trouble either falling or staying asleep – many times it is both. When it is a result of something else – like depression or pain – it is called secondary insomnia. When there is no other condition involved it is primary insomnia.
10 to 15 percent of adults are reported to have insomnia, and left untreated it increase the risk of other disorders such depression, congestive heart failure and even death.
OK, we all have the risk of death, but for those with insomnia it may come sooner than if they were sleeping regularly.
Sleeping pills can help, but there is a risk of addiction if taken too often.
People that have chronic insomnia just cannot function as well as their well-rested counterparts, so there is a lot of ongoing research in this area.
A recent study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, led by Dr. Sean Drummond, associate psychiatry professor at the University of California, looked at brain activity in people with primary insomnia and made a new discovery.
[box type=”warning” align=”alignleft” ]People with insomnia cannot just focus on a complex task at hand, their mind continues to wander in a way that was not related to what they were trying to do.[/box]
They used MRI scans of insomniacs and compared them to people that slept regularly to find out what was different. The insomniac’s could complete their tasks, but they had to work harder to get them done.
Previous studies had already found that focus and concentration is impaired when people don’t get enough sleep, and now they understand more about what is happening in their brains.
It makes you wonder if this brain activity is caused by the insomnia, or whether the mind-wandering is also going on when they are trying to sleep, making it difficult to sleep.
For more information about the work conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, check out their website.