If you are struggling with insomnia, it can seem like you have many questions that are often hard to answer: “Will I ever get enough sleep? What am I doing wrong? What can I do to help get more rest?” But experts’ understanding of insomnia is evolving, so why am I so awake?
Scientific discoveries have shown that there are two systems in the brain that each play a role in helping us stay awake and fall asleep. The wake system sends out signals that put your brain into an alert, or awake, state. This helps you stay awake during the day. The sleep system sends signals that help you fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
When your two systems function as they should, they complement each other, taking turns being in charge and sending signals at the right times. But that may not always be the case for some people.
“What we’re beginning to understand is there are many factors that can contribute to insomnia,” explained Prakash Masand, MD, CEO of Global Medical Education. “What science suggests is when insomnia occurs, your sleep signals may be telling your brain to sleep, but your wake signals in your brain may not be turning down like they should. This could help explain why you aren’t getting as much sleep as you want.”
In addition, it’s important to know your behaviors could be playing a role. Certain activities and habits – such as what you are eating or drinking before bedtime, when you turn off electronic devices at night, how you have your bedroom set up for sleep – could be affecting your wake system. You might not even know that this is happening. You might be unintentionally sending mixed signals and telling your brain to ramp up when it’s time to wind down.
Whether you’re new to insomnia or have been dealing with it for years, staying informed can help when you talk to your health care professional. To learn more about the body’s wake and sleep system, and to assess your sleep habits, visit www.whyamisoawake.com.