What is the pathophysiology of insomnia?

Updated: Sep 11, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Insomnia usually results from an interaction of biological, physical, psychological, and environmental factors. Although transient insomnia can occur in any person, chronic insomnia appears to develop only in a subset of persons who may have an underlying predisposition to insomnia. [25] The evidence supporting this theory is that compared with persons who have normal sleep, persons with insomnia have the following [26] :

  • Higher rates of depression and anxiety

  • Higher scores on scales of arousal

  • Longer daytime sleep latency

  • Increased 24-hour metabolic rates [27]

  • Greater night-to-night variability in their sleep

  • More electroencephalographic (EEG) beta activity (a pattern observed during memory processing/performing tasks) at sleep onset

  • Increased global glucose consumption during the transition from waking to sleep onset, on positron emission tomography of the brain

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