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When you suffer from insomnia but nobody believes you


Image credit: Pixabay/Inkuuz

Back in 2010 I wrote a post that raised the idea that perhaps you're sleeping just fine, even when it feels as though you've been tossing and turning all night.

It would appear that I may have been onto something.

An article in New Scientist magazine recently went into detail about a condition known as pseudoinsomnia.

Sufferers of pseudoinsomnia feel as though they're lying awake, trying to sleep night after night. In fact, they're actually falling asleep and staying asleep.

Interestingly, these individuals aren't imagining things. They're suffering from an unusual form of insomnia.

Although the conventional methods of measuring brainwaves would suggest these individuals are sleeping normally, when analyzing brainwaves using a different algorithm it appears that the sleep cycles of those suffering from pseudoinsomnia are being interrupted by brainwaves that are commonly associated with anxiety, fear and wakefulness.

As a result, it's thought that although these individuals are sleeping, their brains are never really switched off.

Furthermore, brainwave patterns in pseudoinsomniacs were similar to those who suffer from anxiety and chronic pain.

This suggests that when we are unable to switch off our brains, we may be increasing our risk of developing a number of nervous symptoms (including an inability to enjoy healthy sleep).

Source: New Scientist (subscription required)

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Last updated: December 8, 2016

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

Leave a Comment

  • Jill
    March 12, 2017, 4:26 am

    I’ve spent my whole life knowing exactly what pseudoinsomnia is without being able to put a name to it. Also explains why sleep meds, even prescription, do nothing for me. Any cure?

    • Martin Reed
      March 13, 2017, 4:19 pm

      Relaxation treatment may help, as could behavioral therapy. Have you looked into cognitive behavioral therapy? You may find my free insomnia sleep training course useful.

      • Soumyo
        April 4, 2017, 5:11 am

        I have pseudo-insomnia, but fortunately, I have found something that works for me. However, it’s still kind of a gamble.

        So the cure is this-doing extremely tough math problems, or trying to understand extremely difficult math solutions. For ten to fifteen minutes I may have difficulty understanding the solution or trying to make one, but once I ‘get’ it, once I have that burst of insight, it has an extremely soothing effect on my mind. Suddenly I am way more focused and relaxed but also more excited but in a different way.

        Nothing else works really. Not even exercise, not yoga, not meditation (unless you consider math as meditation). Even if I’m feeling too sleepy/groggy, if I lie down I will go into a certain ‘sleeping’ state, but not sleep really. In fact, I have napped for hours in the evening, only to start studying an hour or two before going to bed, and if I was able to do/understand really good math problems even though I would be feeling very excited and focused with an adrenaline run after lying down on the bed, I would fall asleep almost immediately. On the other hand, even if I exercised a lot and didn’t nap on the same evening, and also meditated, I would lie down on the bed feeling extremely tired and sleepy, I wouldn’t fall asleep.

        This is good, but not really good enough, as it keeps me under the constant burden of having to challenging math problems every night before going to bed. This means I can’t go out at night, party/watch movies etc. Also, on days that I’m unable to solve/understand any challenging math problems/solutions respectively and unable to get that burst of insight, I’m unable to sleep. Thus it is kind of a gamble, but I don’t really have any other options.

        • Martin Reed
          April 7, 2017, 1:21 pm

          Thanks for sharing. I’m sure your experience will help a number of other readers here at Insomnia Land!