People with insomnia will say they didn’t sleep at all last night – even if you watched them close their eyes and snore. Naturally, you’re probably thinking they’re crazy liars! But… they’re actually telling the truth.
The experience of sleeping without even knowing is common for those suffering from insomnia. Scientists previously identified the phenomenon as "sleep misperception."
More so, a recent study published in the journal Sleep, examined this phenomenon and found a link between conscious awareness and sleeping patterns.
They analyzed the sleep patterns of 32 people with insomnia and 30 without, using polysomnography – a traditional sleep studying method. Scientists examined the brain waves of participants by injecting a radioactive tracer in sleeper’s arms.
They also scanned participants brains to discover where in the brain the activity occurred. In the morning, participants were surveyed about their sleep experience.
The results showed – people with insomnia who reported to be awake, even when the polysomnography proved otherwise, displayed increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with conscious awareness during the dreamless phase of sleep.
Lead author Daniel Kay – a psychology professor at BYU – explained that sleepers usually go through a process of self-consciousness when they fall asleep, but insomniacs may not think they’re asleep until their brain experiences greater activity in areas that are linked to conscious awareness.
“In patients with insomnia, processes involved in reducing conscious awareness during sleep may be impaired…one of the strategies for targeting these processes may be mindfulness meditation,” explained Professor Kay. “It may help patients inhibit cognitive processes that are preventing them from experiencing sleep.”
So – insomniacs everywhere, you’re probably getting more sleep than you’re consciously aware of. It may be a good time to start considering meditation before bed…