Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Breakthrough finding discovers cause of insomnia

Brain scans reveal why insomnia sufferers can't get sleep.

Adobe
  • Dutch scientists compared the brain scans of people invoking shameful experiences.
  • Insomnia suffers can't neutralize distressing memories as well.
  • The anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the brain linked to insomnia.

New research from scientists at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience points to the underlying cause of insomnia – a sleep disorder affecting up to a half of all adults at some point. Sufferers from insomnia are unable to resolve experiences as neutralized memories while the good sleepers have no trouble doing so.

The experiment consisted of making 57 Dutch participants, 18-70 years of age, relive shameful experiences while their brains were getting MRI scanned. The memories were supposed to be from decades ago.

The brain scans showed that participants who slept well were able to turn shameful experiences into neutralized memories. The insomniacs, on the other hand, had trouble achieving the same neutralization of emotional disturbances.

This discovery fits well with what we already know about the purpose of sleep. It is the time for us to solidify the memories of important experiences but also to address emotionally-distressful aspects of such memories. During sleep, connections between brain cells are either strengthened or weakened, consolidating memories or getting rid of them. Those who are able to do such mental processing without trouble get better sleep.

Interestingly, the study builds upon previous research from the same team where the invoked shame related to making the subjects listen to their karaoke recordings. These were made previously without telling the subjects what they were for, while they had to wear headphones, making their singing even worse.

Responses to novel and relived experiences among the good sleepers vs insomnia sufferers.

Brain/Netherland Institute for Neuroscience.

The study adds to the growing amount of evidence that insomnia risk genes are particularly linked to the limbic circuitry of the brain. More specifically – the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), known to regulate emotion. The researchers implicate this region in "insufficient long-term adaptation to emotional memory" among insomnia-sufferers. Without sleeping well, events that happened decades ago trigger emotional circuits as if they are taking place now.

The findings also relate to the fact that insomnia is a primary risk factor leading up to mood disorders, anxiety and PTSD.

You can read the study, led by Rick Wassing, Frans Schalkwijk and Eus van Someren in the scientific journal Brain.

Want to get better sleep? Here's how | Caroline L. Arnold

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

Tiny area of brain may be 'engine of consciousness', scientists suggest

A recent study on monkeys found that stimulating a certain part of the forebrain wakes monkeys from anesthesia.

Jon Olav Eikenes via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Scientists electrically stimulated the brains of macaque monkeys in an effort to determine which areas are responsible for driving consciousness.
  • The monkeys were anesthetized, and the goal was to see whether activating certain parts of the brain would wake up the animals.
  • The forebrain's central lateral thalamus seems to be one of the "minimum mechanisms" necessary for consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Keep reading Show less

How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.

Ernest Hemingway Holding His Son 1927 (Wikimedia Commons)
Culture & Religion

Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?

Keep reading Show less
Videos

The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast