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Are You Predisposed To Having Stress Insomnia?

By on 03/17/2015
stress insomnia

Stress Insomnia


In case you have never heard of the term before, “stress insomnia” is the insomnia that many of us experience during periods of our life that are most filled with stress. Researchers study the brain activity while a person sleeps by hooking a person up to an EEG, which measures sleep spindle activity (sleep spindles are the curly-loops formed by the EEG machine when measuring sleeping brain activity). Previous research has already determined that people with lower sleep spindle activity are more prone to waking during any noise or ambient activity.  But this study was conducted to determine if there was a correlation between sleep spindle activity and insomnia.

Sleep stages:

Insomnia is a problem almost everyone has experienced, especially during periods of stress. Though sleep research is a relatively new science, scientists have long known that there are four stages of sleep:

Stage 1 – Individual are in a very light sleep, easily awakened

Stage 2 – Eye movement and brain waves slow down, and sleep deepens

Stage 3 – Very deep sleep with long, slow brain waves called delta waves – the individual is difficult to arouse, can be confused when awakened from this stage

REM sleep – REM stands for “rapid eye movement” – this is the stage where dreaming occurs

In experiments done at Concordia’s Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology and PERFORM Center, at Concordia University in Montreal scientists examined the brain waves of students.  At the beginning of one semester, researchers recorded the brain patterns of the students during sleep. Several months later during finals week, when they were under significant stress, researchers repeated the studies on the same group of students. The scientists are looking for a way to treat or prevent insomnia, and were observing whether or not stress played a role in insomnia.

Research Results:

They did not find a cure for insomnia, but  research results showed that some individuals are better able to handle stress, at least in regard to getting a good night’s sleep when stressed, and others are more prone to having a disturbing night due to stress.

During stage 2 sleep certain parts of the brain produce electrical activity that is recorded as tightly bunched, wiggly lines called spindles on the graph. This study shows that those students who have more spindles during their stage 2 sleep, are able to stay asleep despite noise. The students with fewer spindles tended to awaken easily with noise.

While the study did not do much to advance treatment of insomnia, it demonstrates that certain people are better able to sleep despite stress.

Brain waves predict our risk for insomnia -- ScienceDailyBrain waves predict our risk for insomnia — ScienceDaily


Sleep Recommendations:

The scientists recommend that anyone having difficulty sleeping develop these healthy sleeping habits.

* Try to avoid stress and excitement just before bedtime.

* The bedroom should be used only for sleeping – do not read or watch television in bed.

* Calm your body down before bed – read, relax.

If you follow these tips, even if you don’t have a lot of spindles in stage 2, you are more apt to get a good night’s sleep  during stressful events.




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