Sleep patterns have long been the subject of debate, with different research groups, and some even taking issue with the idea that people can be “too sleepy” to feel better.
Now, a new study from Johns Hopkins University is raising even more questions.
The researchers surveyed more than 20,000 adults about their sleep patterns over time, and found that sleep habits can be determined by the way their brains respond to stress.
The team found that people who sleep poorly during stressful events are more likely to have trouble falling asleep.
Researchers also found that those who were more likely, during stressful times, to be exhausted were more sensitive to sleep.
In other words, those who are stressed out are likely to feel more stressed, so it’s not a coincidence that those people are also more likely not to sleep well.
Sleep patterns, says study author Roberta T. McNeil, a professor of psychology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, are a “complex and complex phenomenon.”
Sleep is an important component of a healthy body.
But there’s also a strong correlation between sleep and physical health.
So, how do we figure out if we’re getting enough sleep?
Sleep disorders are often treatable, and if you know you have one, your sleep habits could be being affected by a number of factors.
“There’s a lot of literature that suggests there’s a strong relationship between poor sleep and mental health,” says McNeil.
“So we were interested in figuring out if there was a biological difference in how people respond to the stressor, and that was really interesting because we were kind of looking at how stress affects sleep and physiology.”
The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to look at the brains of people who were assessed over a period of two years.
They found that they had stronger activity in regions that respond to emotional and physical stimuli than those that respond more to the stimuli that trigger positive emotions.
“Our brains are really very, very good at detecting the presence of emotional and physiological cues,” says Dr. Susan G. Palfrey, the senior author of the study.
“We really know how to respond to them, and we can’t just go out and get rid of them.”
So, the researchers turned to neuroscientists.
“I think there’s an overlap between the work that’s being done on sleep and the work on stress,” says Palfridge.
“They both are interested in how we process stress.
Sleep is a very important part of our normal sleep cycle, so we really have to be conscious about that.”
But, while Palfreau says the research could help us understand how to better deal with stressful situations, the findings are only the first step in finding a solution.
“Sleep research is always going to be a field of research and we have to get more people engaged in this field,” she says.
“This study gives us a very basic starting point.”
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.