‘Insomnia is a major predictor for developing depression’

An embarrassing blunder feels the next day very less. Unless you suffer from insomnia, according to research by the Dutch Herseninstituut, in april, published in Brain. Twelve questions to a researcher and slaapprofessor Eus van Someren.

What actually happens when we sleep?

Van Someren: “Sleep not only helps to memorize important things, but also forget the possible associated stress, emotions and tensions.”

at Night, we process things?

“During sleep changing the connections between brain cells: where some connections are stronger so that you can remember, others weaker, so its voltage is of the past. This nightly process, we know from expressions such as ‘sleep on it’ and ‘things have a place.”

But poor sleepers can’t?

“No, poor sleepers may that voltage is not well shake off. Fact: in people with restless nights you can sleep even a counterproductive effect on stress, emotions, and tensions.”

“Good sleepers give shameful memories, a different place in the brain”
Eus van Someren, head of the department Sleep and Cognition of Dutch Herseninstituut

How did the study look like?

“We showed participants their most shameful memories from years ago get. At the same time, we made brain scans. This shows that good sleepers, these memories are in the brain a different place.”

Which place? What did that look like on the scans?

“New shameful experiences activate the emotional brain circuits have. The retrieval of old memories of shame, not more. Or at least, in good sleepers.”

“At insomniacs keep these circuits active. As if the misery is occurring right now. Even in the memories of thirty years ago. Poor sleepers, in other words, ‘haunted’ by the emotions from the past.”

“Poor sleepers are ‘haunted’ by the emotions from the past”
Eus van Someren, head of the department Sleep and Cognition of Dutch Herseninstituut

“This research confirms what we found in a previous study, recently published in the scientific journal Sleep. In addition, we asked participants to sing with karaoke.”


“The participants had during the singing headphones on, so they could not hear, or they are pure and in the measure sang. The vocals were recorded and later unexpectedly played.”

“icipants felt intense shame when listening to their own fake songs. But if they get the recording after a good night’s sleep again listened, the shame is largely gone. The failure had been given a place. At least, in the good sleepers. Insomniacs were at it again to listen to after a night of poor sleep to get more upset.”

Insomnia seems like a disorder to be in emotieregulatie. (Photo: Getty Images)

Why is this discovery a breakthrough?

“Until recently, the underlying mechanisms of insomnia has been examined in the brain regions that are involved in sleep. But now seems that insomnia may rather a disorder to be in emotieregulatie.”

What does that mean?

“It suggests that insomnia is a disorder in the processing and clearing of emotions. This is the first understandable, then, that insomnia is the main predictor for developing depression, anxiety disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder.”

“Fortunately don’t get any bad sleeper of a depression or anxiety disorder”
Eus van Someren, head of the department Sleep and Cognition of Dutch Herseninstituut

Is there a causal link? Leads to poor sleep always lead to depression or anxiety?

“Insomnia is the main risk factor, but fortunately, not every bad sleeper as a disorder. We now seek the help of a lot of bad sleepers, to the ‘who and why’ to understand.”

There Is also talk of a vicious circle?

“Sure. Who is depressed, sleeps worse and will get even more suffer from depressive symptoms, which in turn leads to less sleep. And if insomnia after the depression persists, the risk of relapse is also higher.”

What does this breakthrough? Are depression and anxiety disorders to avoid?

“As restless sleep, connections between brain cells can no longer adequately change, it is good to imagine that this can eventually lead to the accumulation of tension, somberte or fear. To this term can occur, it is important that we as soon as possible to examine the soil.”

Is there a solution in sight? Bad sleepers may better ‘learn’ how to sleep?

“Many poor sleepers may with cognitive behavioural therapy which is better to learn to sleep.”

Prof. dr. Eus van Someren, head of the department Sleep and Cognition of the Dutch Herseninstituut, professor of integrative neurophysiology at VU university and professor of psychiatry at the Amsterdam medical centre (UMC.

icipate in research? The research group of Van Someren is currently researching the role of insomnia in mood disorders. Poor sleepers may apply for participation sign up.

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