Several behavioral, physiological, and subjective variables were examined in subjects reporting chronic insomnia (IN group) and subjects with no complaint of insomnia (NC group) to determine factors predictive of poor sleep as measured by electroencephalography (EEG sleep).
A total of 177 subjects (121 in the IN group and 56 in the NC group) were evaluated on the basis of EEG sleep, subjective sleep, sleepiness, performance, mood, personality, and metabolic parameters during a 36-hour laboratory stay.
Equal percentages of subjects in each group had 0, 1, or 2 nights of poor EEG sleep, indicating that the IN group was not more likely to have impaired sleep in the laboratory. Results of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory showed that subjects in the IN group had more pathological personality profiles, and results of laboratory studies showed that these subjects had worse mood ratings, less subjective sleepiness, poorer memory performance, and longer midafternoon sleep latencies. Subjects in the IN group also rated their laboratory sleep as poorer in quality with more time awake after sleep onset and longer sleep latencies, but no differences in EEG sleep were observed. Poor nights of EEG sleep were associated with being male, increasing age, and a history of more time awake after sleep onset; among the laboratory tests, poor EEG sleep was associated with worse mood ratings, poorer memory performance, longer sleep latencies (as indicated by higher scores on the Multiple Sleep Latency Test), higher sleep/wake ratios for metabolic parameters, lower ratings of sleep quality, and longer perceived sleep latencies.
A history of chronic insomnia does not predict poor EEG sleep. Both chronic insomnia and poor EEG sleep are associated independently with dysphoria, hyperarousal, diminished waking function, and negative subjective sleep quality. Separate arousal and sleep systems are posited to account for these results.