Researchers Find Potential Cause of Insomnia

There’s a lot of insomnia news this week.  In a previous article here on SleepBetter, we discussed possible differences in the brains of people with insomnia.  The sleep disorder occurs in about 10% of the population, and many times the cause can’t be pinpointed.  Researchers at Emory University, however, say they may have found a cause.  In their study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, they said they believe a product of the immune system called cytokines may be the culprit.

From an article about the study at

In the Emory study, participants were exposed to standardized doses of the cytokine interferon (IFN)-alpha for the treatment of hepatitis C where it activates the immune system to fight the virus.

During the three months the individuals were exposed to IFN-alpha, they showed marked deterioration of their sleep patterns. They woke up repeatedly during the night and spent much less time in the restorative, deep stages of sleep. During the day, these individuals were extremely fatigued. However, even when offered a nap, they still couldn’t sleep.

Researchers say these findings may point to potential treatments for insomnia.

Read the rest of the article here.

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