A study of Dutch researchers has shown that chronic insomnia may reduce the volume of the gray matter.
Chronic and acute stress associated with depression and post-traumatic disorders affects the brain regions such as the lingual gyrus and the hippocampus, responsible for the storage of information.
Dutch researchers studying insomnia Ellemarije Altena andYsbrandD.Van Der Werf used a special technique of three-dimensional morphometry to measure amounts of memory in mentally healthy patients with insomnia compared to patients who didn’t have sleep problems. Scientists found out that individuals suffering from insomnia have lower volume of gray matter in the brain. Moreover, the heavier insomnia is, the less the gray matter is.
In the initial stages insomnia causes a decrease in gray matter density in the centers of the brain associated with leisure and pleasure. More serious sleep disorders lead to irreversible changes in the pleasure center. Subsequently a person becomes unable to get proper rest during sleep.
Researches believe that insomnia is a condition caused by a decrease in the active mass of the cerebral cortex. The loss of brain substance is often associated with various mental disorders, primarily depression caused by stress factors. Thus, without a proper treatment insomnia in the long run has a detrimental effect on the microstructure of the brain.