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Insomniac brains are both asleep and awake

From Washington, D.C., at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience

Have you ever gotten out of bed still tired because you'd been worrying all night? New research suggests that your brain might have been both asleep and awake through those fitful hours.

Stress-induced insomnia affects almost a quarter of people in the United States each year. Yet, scientists know little about what the brain's doing as people struggle to get some shut-eye.

To investigate, Clif Saper and Georgina Cano of Harvard University and their colleagues induced anxiety in drowsy rats by letting them fall asleep in a clean cage and then transferring them to a dirty cage previously occupied by another rat.

Because rats are territorial, says Cano, the transferred animals became anxious and were unable to immediately settle back into sleep. When they did rest, the rodents slept fitfully, waking frequently.

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