Losing Your Mind Over Lack of Sleep?

by admin on March 1, 2010

Well, actually…  you might be doing exactly that.

A recent study, published by Biological Psychiatry compared the white and gray matter volumes of 24 older, chronic insomnia patients to 13 normal sleepers, and controlled for physical and psychiatric disorders that could alter brain densities.  They found that severe insomniacs exhibited the most extensive density loss, regardless of how long they had suffered from the disorder.

They can’t make the call on what causes what.. the order this happens in…  yet.

Original source:  Ellemarijie Altena, lead author of the study from the Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience. 

Here’s the link if you want to read more:

http://news.discovery.com/human/insomnia-brain-sleep.html

The article specifically is “Reduced Orbitofrontal and Pariental Gray Matter in Chronic Insomnia:  A Voxel-Based Morphometric Study” by Ellemarije Altena, Hugo Vrenken, Ysbrand D. Van Der Werf, Odile A. van den Heuvel, and Eus J.W. Van Someren.  The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 67, Issue 2 (January 15, 2010), published by Elsevier.

And for a more detailed report in Elsevier, go here:

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/authored_newsitem.cws_home/companynews05_01414

What I found most interesting in this study, was that the areas of the brain affected were the ones involved in:

  • evaluating the pleasantness of stimuli, and
  • the brains ‘resting state’

and they might therefore have difficulty recognising “optimal comfort to fall asleep”.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biolgoical Psychiatry, commented, that “insomnia is a common feature of nearly every psychiatric condition associated with reduced cortical volume; in fact, it is a common symptom of psychiatric disorders or high levels of life stress, generally”.

My apologies for bringing news of detrimental effects on the microstructure of the brain to your attention, to make you more stressed about your best night’s sleep…. but… it is my mission to educate.

Peace

Elizabeth

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

KIM MULLINS March 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Thanks Elizabeth. Yikes! Like you said, I’m not sure I wanted to KNOW that. However, it certainly feels sometimes that is the case. Is there evidence whether the brain can regenerate effectively, given more regular sleep &/or other factors?

Rick Tufts March 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm

KIM MULLINS March 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm
Thanks Elizabeth. Yikes! Like you said, I’m not sure I wanted to KNOW that. However, it certainly feels sometimes that is the case. Is there evidence whether the brain can regenerate effectively, given more regular sleep &/or other factors?

This is exactly the same question I had. Did you have an answer for Kim?

Thanks,
Rick

admin April 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hi Kim and Rick, well that took a while to respond! I’m just doing some maintenance on this website and found your comments.
I totally believe that our bodies regenerate on a daily basis, so without setting out on a PHD today on these latest findings I’d rather believe in the concepts of neuro-plasticity and that our bodies decay and renew every day.
However, there are studies that say that the only way to overcome sleep debt is to sleep, which is not something to get excited about if you are one of those people who hasn’t slept properly for years. It would mean some sort of human hibernation!!
Whenever I find myself in a situation where you have two choices, one to believe A. a total negative and the other B. to believe and trust that there is another way – I’d prefer to choose option B!
I’m a believer that our bodies are amazing and have a great capacity to heal, naturally.
But I also believe that sleeping well, and respecting sleep helps in the healing process – in fact some healing occurs while we sleep.
So that means good nutrition, exercise, hydration, avoiding fried foods, hanging out with positive inspiring people, having time out and fun – basically having a good life.

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