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

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Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is the Content Development Manager at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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