Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience say your insomnia might stem from emotional distress.

The team asked participants to relive shameful moments from their past, while receiving an MRI scan of their brain activity. Researchers found that good sleepers neutralized those memories, while insomniacs were not able to do so.

These findings suggest that insomnia could be caused by a failure to neutralize or manage emotional distress.

Researchers say this helps to explain why insomnia is a significant risk factor for developing mood disorders and anxiety.


Wassing, R., Schalkwijk, F. & et al. (2019, April 25). Haunted by the past: old emotions remain salient in insomnia disorder. BRAIN. Retrieved from