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Spring Forward into Healthier Sleep Habits

Woman rests her head on pillowAn estimated 15 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia.

For many, daylight savings brings a loss of sleep and an unwelcome morning, but an increasing number of Americans are waking up feeling groggy all year around. Hear from Johns Hopkins Medicine about a recent breakthrough in sleep disorder research and learn about simple lifestyle changes you can make to ward off common sleep problems.

New Insight into Insomnia

Recent Johns Hopkins research has identified brain differences in those who suffer from chronic insomnia, a common sleep disorder that affects an estimated 15 percent of Americans. The motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement, is more active and adaptable to change in those with insomnia as compared with good sleepers.

"Insomnia is not a nighttime disorder. It's a 24-hour brain condition, like a light switch that is always on," says study leader Rachel Salas. "Our research adds information about differences in the brain associated with it."

It's not yet known whether this feature of the motor cortex is a cause of insomnia or the brain's way of compensating for sleep deprivation, but the research team hopes that this finding could improve treatment and diagnosis of this debilitating disorder.

Researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation, a painless and noninvasive electromagnetic pulse, to temporarily disrupt targeted brain areas. As these pulses were applied to the motor cortex, researchers tracked the participants' involuntary thumb movements. Next, the researchers trained each participant for 30 minutes, teaching them to move their thumb in the opposite direction of the original involuntary movement. They then introduced the electrical pulses once again. Those who could retrain their thumbs well were identified as having more adaptable motor cortices.

Read more about this research from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Expert Advice on Common Sleep Disorders

Common Sleep Problems

Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center and Dr. Virginia Runko, behavioral sleep specialist, explain common sleep problems, like chronic insufficient sleep and insomnia, and basic things you can do to get a better night's sleep.



Connect with the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Centers

Make an appointment at one of our five locations:

Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center

Appointments: 443-287-3313
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Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Appointments: 410-550-0571
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Howard County General Hospital

Appointments: 1-800-937-5337
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Suburban Hospital

Appointments: 1-888-998-5809
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Sibley Memorial Hospital

Appointments: 1-888-998-5809
More information for patients