I was reading a very interesting article in New Scientist last week about insomnia. Some people claim that they can’t sleep but their EEG pattern indicates that they are sleeping. However, this latter assessment turned out to be inaccurate due to analysing the EEG record in 30 sec epochs which wasn’t capturing alpha intrusions that indicated that the individual was actually, regularly, experiencing consciousness. It was suggested that some chronic insomniacs suffer from a faulty “off” switch which means that they have difficulty switching their brain to sleep.
I thought “welcome to my life!”. I have been saying this about myself and some of my fellow family insomniacs for sometime.
Like my relatives, the older I get, the more difficult I find it to sleep. It isn’t just one problem. I can’t get to sleep. When I can I’m awake multiple times. When I am asleep I am aware that I am asleep. I am aware that I am in my bed. I can even estimate the time within 5 mins. When I dream, I’m aware I’m dreaming. I’ve even regularly had the bizarre dream that I’m in bed, asleep, dreaming that I’m in bed, asleep.
I’ve said that it feels a bit like a dolphin…one hemisphere is switched off but the other is still active and aware.
It’s like the “off” switch won’t fully flick over to “off”.
I have also begun to wonder whether it is related to lucid dreaming. The conscious awareness aspect in lucid dreaming, to me, seems very similar to the feeling of awareness I have when I am asleep but aware that I am asleep, or when I am dreaming but aware that I am dreaming (but not controlling my dreams so I don’t think that qualifies as a lucid dream).
Anyways, I would be curious to hear other insomniacs’ thoughts about this