People have a tendency to run behind the thousands of thoughts striking their mind. Beware! Daydreamers are more likely to be insomniacs as they usually put more effort into daytime jobs than healthy sleepers, a new study says.
A team of researchers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, led by Dr Sean Drummond, associate psychiatry professor at the University of California uncovered the link between the daytime and nightime brain activity in primary insomniacs.
Brain scans of insomniacs revealed that regions of the brain associated with wandering thoughts do not stop when the brain is given complex tasks.
Usually, people can control parts of the brain related to working memory (Short term memory). The area responsible for working memory is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. However, the study found that daydreamers could not concentrate on complex tasks as their brains were incapable of controlling those parts of the brain.
‘People with insomnia not only have trouble sleeping at night, but their brains are not functioning as efficiently during the day.
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 ”, Dr Drummond said.
‘It is not surprising that someone with insomnia would feel like they are working harder to do the same job as a healthy sleeper,’ he added.
People with insomnia not only have trouble sleeping at night, but their brains do not function as efficiently during the day. Primary insomnia is a form of the condition where sleep is interrupted without the patient suffering any other condition such as depression or chronic pain caused by a medication or substance abuse.
Researchers compared MRI scans of 25 regular sleepers with 25 insomniacs. The average age of the respondents was 32. They found that both groups finished working memory tasks effectively. By comparing MRI scans, Dr Drummond and his team found that while both groups were equally as effective at completing working memory tasks, insomniac’s brains did not ‘dial down’ the ‘default mode’ regions of the brain that are usually used when it wanders. On the other hand, healthy sleepers were able to switch on more parts of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to tackle the memory tasks.
The study was published in the Journal ‘Sleep’.