Insomnia is a curse of modern generations, and millions of people around the globe suffer from this type of sleep disorders. In many cases, insomnia turns into a chronic condition, bringing such effects as constant restlessness, headaches, fatigue, inability to focus and maximize our performance, and so on. Form the scientific point of view, not too much is known about the most common causes, mechanisms and effects of this sleep disorder. That is why insomnia and chemical processes that accompany this condition become a focus of numerous current researches and studies very often.
In particular, one of the studies carried out this summer and reported in September has shown that such condition as insomnia has very strong influence of heredity. This factor plays a great role, and if your mom, dad or other close relatives suffer from this health condition, you have quite high chances to suffer from it too. The group of scientists of Universite Laval’s School of Psychology, who carried out this research and worked on analyzing the data on about 3,500 participants, came up with the conclusions that those who have a history of chronic insomnia in their family can be exposed to up to 76 per cent higher risks of suffering from this sleep disorder at one or another stage of their life.
The participants were asked to answer some questions about their sleep patterns, their sleep problems and sleep problems of the close relatives like mother, father or siblings. The study included also monitoring possible changes of sleep patterns withing 12 months, with occasional interviewing the participants. It turned out that almost 40 per cent of people who had a family member suffering from insomnia displayed the signs of the same sleep disorder. At that, 76 per cent of those participants had only one relative suffering from insomnia, and 21 per cent had two and more family members affected by the same condition.
Dr. Charles M. Morin of Universite Laval’s School of Psychology, one of the study leaders and the author of the report, commented on the findings of his colleagues as the following: “There is very probably a genetic factor behind the family aggregation we observed. However, we don’t know if the mechanism is a physiological process that interferes with sleep or a predisposition to anxiety.” He also said that there are options of early psychological and related types of treatments for those who have elevated risks of insomnia caused by such factor as heredity.
Restless sleep, frequent waking up at night and inability to fall asleep again are very common problems in many modern people. It is believed that these sleep disorders should be attributed to our unhealthy diet, smoking and other bad habits, chronic stresses at workplace or in our private life, as well as to such things as climatic changes, our health disorders or improper environment for sleeping. However, recently, a group of scientists discovered that such factor as loneliness should also be taken into account, and those people who are feeling lonely and isolated usually experience various sleep difficulties and sleep disorders like restless sleep.
It turns out that loneliness can not only make us feel unhappy and depressed, have negative effects on our physical and emotional health, but also can affect our sleep to a great extent. Scientists of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago carried out a series of experiments, and found out that lonely people have very poor quality of sleep compared to those people who do not suffer from feelings of being lonely and isolated. The findings of this interesting study were recently published in the November issue of the journal Sleep.
During the experiments, the experts from the University of Chicago closely monitored sleep patterns and chemical reactions in the brain of 95 volunteers from rural South Dakota localities. It became apparent that those of the participants who were feeling lonely and abandoned had much higher levels of fragmentary sleep, in other words, they tended to wake up at night way more often than all other participants. Such restless sleep causes fatigue, inability to focus and poorer overall performance, higher risks of developing serious health problems, etc.
“What we found was that loneliness does not appear to change the total amount of sleep in individuals, but awakens them more times during the night,” Dr. Lianne Kurina, who leaded the research, writes in the report about the findings. “It’s not just a product of very lonely individuals having poor sleep. The relationship between loneliness and restless sleep appears to operate across the range of perceived connectedness,” she adds. In addition to this, the scientists found out that the connections between loneliness and poor or restless sleep are much stronger in young people than in aged people, because the psychological effects of loneliness affect young people more than they affect older people.