By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
People with insomnia have trouble concentrating during the day because the "wandering mind" areas of their brains may not be turned off, according to a new study.
Using brain imaging technology, researchers found that people with insomnia who were performing a working memory task did not rely less on the "default mode" regions of their brain that are usually active only when the mind is wandering.
The findings might help explain why insomniacs do not function as efficiently during the day, and could also lead to improved treatments for the sleep disorder, according to the authors of the study published in the September issue of the journal Sleep.
"We found that insomnia subjects did not properly turn on brain regions critical to a working memory task and did not turn off 'mind-wandering' brain regions irrelevant to the task," study lead author Sean Drummond said in a journal news release. "Based on these results, it is not surprising that someone with insomnia would feel like they are working harder to do the same job as a healthy sleeper."
Drummond is an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, as well as the secretary/treasurer of the Sleep Research Society.
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