The scientists asked participants to relive their most shameful experiences of decades ago while making MRI scans of their brain activity.
While good sleepers literally settled those experiences in their head as neutralized memories, people with insomnia were not able to do so.
This breakthrough finding suggests that insomnia could primarily be caused by a failing neutralization of emotional distress.
Which makes it understandable that insomnia is the primary risk factor for the development of disorders of mood, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress.
The findings were published on 25 April in the leading scientific journal Brain.
But sleep is also essential for getting rid of the emotional distress that may have occurred during those experiences.
Scientists Rick Wassing, Frans Schalkwijk and Eus van Someren thus show that people with insomnia are haunted by memories of past distress. »