Tags: sleep | insomnia | deprived | chronic

You May Be Getting More Sleep Than You Think: Researchers

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Jul 2015 02:17 PM


America is a sleep-deprived nation with more than 25 percent of us reporting sleepless nights at least a few dusk-to-dawns a year, and 1 in 10 reporting chronic insomnia.

But we may be getting more shut-eye than we think. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, many people who suffer from insomnia actually get more sleep than they think, misjudging how often they wake during the night, and how long it takes them to go back to sleep.

In addition, people can have insomnia but still get enough sleep. New studies show that insomnia is more about what your brain does during sleep than the amount of time you actually spend sleeping.

When doctors monitor some patients for sleep disorders, tests that measure brain waves or motor activity show they are sleeping well. "It's almost as if you're lying," Nicole K.Y.Tang of Britain's University of Warwick, tells the Wall Street Journal.

Studies show that about half of people with insomnia sleep at least six hours a night. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine found that about 42 percent of people with insomnia underestimate their actual amount of sleep by more than an hour. But people who actually don't sleep much overestimate the amount of sleep they get.

"When you ask people, 'How many hours of sleep do you usually get?' most of the people in the population will say between seven and eight hours," says Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, co-author of the study. "Then you measure them, they sleep six," he told the Wall Street Journal.

Everyone wakes during the night, he says, but "if you’re a good sleeper, it means you don’t remember wakefulness," he said.

The misperception about sleep may be tied to actions in the brain. Some studies show that people with insomnia have more of the type of brain activity when they're sleeping that normally occurs during waking hours.

"People seem like they are not wholly unconscious," Michael Perlis of the University of Pennsylvania. "There is more sensory processing, more information processing, more short- and long-term memory than you should have in an unconscious state," she told the Wall Street Journal.

PET scans show that areas of the brain which are normally active when the person is daydreaming are more active during sleep in those with insomnia.

"Insomnia is not the problem of too little sleep. It is the problem of too much brain activation," said Daniel J. Buysse, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "When patients tell us, 'My mind is wandering, I'm thinking all night, I'm aware of everything that’s going on,' it is entirely possible that their experience of sleep is exactly how they describe it," he told the Wall Street Journal.

The new research shows that options such as mindfulness meditation may be used to home in on overactive areas of the brain and allow a more restful sleep.


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America is a sleep-deprived nation with more than 25 percent of us reporting sleepless nights at least a few dusk-to-dawns a year, and 1 in 10 reporting chronic insomnia. But we may be getting more shut-eye than we think. According to a report...
sleep, insomnia, deprived, chronic
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2015-17-14
Tuesday, 14 Jul 2015 02:17 PM
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