Cortical Hyperarousal and Adolescent Insomnia

Children who have abnormal tracing patterns measured by an EEG and show signs of apparent cortical hyperarousal will most likely develop insomnia as an adolescent. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can arise from multiple issues including anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Children who experience cortical arousal can encounter persistent problems falling asleep leading to deficient sleeping patterns. By measuring a child’s brain activity using an EEG, a neurologist can discover unusual tracing patterns pertaining to cortical hyperarousal; therefore; predicting early signs of insomnia (Fernandez-Mendoza et al., 2018). If a child has early onset symptoms of insomnia, treatments such as behavioral therapy, benzodiazepines, or cognitive behavioral therapy can be used as treatments and preventative strategies. Fernandez-Mendoza et al. (2018) had performed an EEG on two groups of children (sleeping problems or no sleeping problems) during their non-REM sleep to then be studied and see who has higher levels of cortical hyperarousal in association with poor sleeping habits.

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Childhood Adversity and Adolescent Insomnia

Children who have been exposed to at least one adversity in their life are more likely to have insomnia as an adolescent than ones who haven’t. Childhood maltreatment such as abuse and neglect have been studied in correspondence to children with sleeping issues but children exposed to violence are not considered victims (Wang, Raffeld, Slopen, Hale, & Dunn, 2018). This is yet still an adversity that can easily occur during one’s childhood because they are much more sensitive during this stage of their life. Adversities during childhood can play a major role in a person’s adolescent life and can lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety causing them to develop sleeping problems such as insomnia. Patients with psychiatric disorders such as PTSD, major depression, and generalized anxiety disorder are excluded from this theory.

Childhood Insomnia During the Day

Insomnia is not only an issue at night when a person is sleeping, it is a 24-hour disorder and effects people all day long. One cannot dismiss cortical hyperarousal during the day. Treatments for insomnia should be focused on improving life quality during the day in addition to at night. Impairment of day time functions are typically shown in patients with insomnia which will affect the way their cortical hyperarousal throughout the day altering in high functioning EEG waves (Cortoos, Verstraeten, & Cluydts, 2006). This piece of information is vital because if a child is affected daily due to lack of sleep, it can be crucial when detecting insomnia.

High Frequency EEG and Cortical Hyperarousal

Cortical hyperarousal can lead to insomnia which puts those individuals at risk for psychiatric disorders (Fernandez-Mendoza et al., 2018). When monitoring children during non-REM sleep, if they have an increased beta EEG power it can be a significant predictor of insomnia symptoms in adolescents. Fernandez-Mendoza et al. (2018) conducted a study was conducting with 45 children aged 6-11 years old; 25 were reported by their parents as having sleeping problems and 20 were reported no sleeping problems. After 8 years, they followed up with the children to see if they were reported as having insomnia or not. The children were set up to EEG machines and were monitored from 22:00-7:00.

After the EEG tests were observed, it is apparent that if a child was reported as having cortical hyperarousal, he/she showed increased EEG beta activity while in non-REM sleep. These children were then followed up with 8 years later and reported as having insomnia. Prior to insomnia diagnosis, cortical hyperarousal was present and may be and early onset sign of insomnia.

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Cortical Hyperarousal and Adolescent Insomnia. (2019, Mar 13). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from

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