Influence of Sleep Reactivity on Insomnia

in Stress Research and Insights

Fellow research review of- "Hyperarousal and sleep reactivity in insomnia: current insights" research conducted by  David A Kalmbach, Andrea S Cuamatzi-CastelanChristine V Tonnu, Kieulinh Michelle TranJason R Anderson, Thomas Roth, and Christopher L Drake



  • Sleep is a state at which the body goes into physical and mental rest. It is a state in which all external activities of the body are put at rest and paused for a duration of time. While the body is in this state, the mental and cognitive functioning of the body is satisfied. Sleep is a very important factor in body metabolism. The human body needs at least 6-9 hours of sleep daily. During this period, the REM and NREM sleep cycles are at regulation. REM sleep occurs after the NREM sleep for about 10-15 minutes after sleep. A complete sleep routine involves reoccurring stages of NREM and REM sleep.

  • A trait characteristic, sleep reactivity is the degree to which stress disrupts sleep, manifesting as difficulty falling and staying asleep. Premorbid sleep reactivity has been shown to identify individuals at risk for future insomnia disorder, such as highly reactive sleepers (whose sleep systems are sensitive to stress) who are at elevated disease risk. Research points to genetics, family history of insomnia, gender, and environmental stress as factors that influence sleep reactivity.

  • Importantly, stress-related cognitive–emotional reactivity may exploit the vulnerability of a highly reactive sleep system. We concluded that sleep reactivity and cognitive–emotional reactivity may share a bidirectional relationship, conferring an uncomfortable environment for sleep in response to stress. Research on sleep reactivity characterize its relationship with cognitive–emotional reactivity, and explore the potential clinical utility of sleep reactivity in treatment planning.

  • The myAir app is an application that help users manage events that affects sleep negatively. So far, the myAir app has proven to be an effective way to monitor sleep reactivity levels and provide safe medical methods to suppress them. The medical team took it upon themselves to have a personal consultation with the affected adults. On talk, they could proffer means to aid their sleep schedule and suppress stress levels. The myAir app plays this role for every user without consulting a medical expert daily. 


From the results obtained from the various patients studied about 70% of them have sleep disorders which is linked with co-occurring sleep problems. These data highlight that sleep problems commonly occur among people exposed to a traumatic event, particularly those who develop PTSD. It was also discovered that some patients suffer from numbness and reduced mental stability. Their emotional, physical and mental state have been adversely compromised. This study has proven that witnessing traumatic event and stress is related to reports of trouble falling asleep, increased awakenings during the night, and trouble regaining sleep after awakening.


Sleep reactivity is the degree to which individuals exhibit acute sleep disturbance in response to stress exposure. Important to note here is that other terms used to describe sleep reactivity include “sleep system sensitivity”, “stress-reactivity of the sleep system”, and “vulnerability to stress-related insomnia”. 

Sleep reactivity is a common experience as all individuals experience some degree of difficulty sleeping when faced with a sufficiently potent sleep challenge. Even minor challenges, including slight changes in sleep timing and ill-timed low-dose stimulants, produce sleep disturbance in some individuals. 

Sleep reactivity exhibits trait-like characteristics such that individuals’ sleep responses to stress are consistent over time and across a variety of stressful stimuli.  Stress is a broad process that involves cognitive, emotional, and neurobiological reactions. Stress exposure is equally unhealthy, and differs by causes- mental stress, physiologic pain, circadian challenge, substance consumption, potency and duration of activity.  

Not only do stressors vary greatly, but also individuals vary greatly in their response to stressors. That is, different individuals react differently even to uniform stressors, thus emphasizing the complex mechanisms of stress regulation. And it is precisely these differences in stress dysregulation that contribute to individual differences in risk for insomnia. 

Without an early medical approach, psychological stress can lead to cardiac arrest, stroke, and insomnia disorders. Our main goal is to develop a mobile and easily accessible medical approach for everyone- hence the myAir app. As studied in some individuals who are subject to stress, they tend to exhibit mental health disorders. 

As regards this, there is a need for a proportional balance between sleep and chronic stress. As much as the issues need to be resolved and situations are taken care of, the body must not be deprived of proper sleep. Unfavorable environments that lead to insomnia must be strongly avoided. 

However, there are many ways by which insomnia disorders can be reduced in the body. The myAir app serves as a way to ensure proper sleep regulation. The myAir app monitors users body activity which includes their feeding habit, stress level, and sleep time. 


Are you always busy, maybe with work, and you find it difficult to sleep and have noticed an increase in your anxiety and depression levels? You need to use the myAir app. The myAir app serves its vital purpose by suggesting ways to curb factors that lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation. So far, the myAir app has prevented severe complications in every user.  

In dealing with psychological stress and insomnia and how they affect sleep, there is a need to understand the causes of insomnia. Psychological stress is the major cause of insomnia and insomnia related disorders. The general interpretation of psychological-mental instability as insanity; is not limited to that alone. Cases of mental instability vary depending on the severity of the situation and duration to heal. 

A prominent and commonly known case of mental instability, according to our study, is- Major Depressive Disorder. Major depressive disorder is characterized by sleep deprivation and loss of interest in daily activities for an extended period. This case takes away all activeness and comes with fatigue and little sleep due to fear. 

Another case of depression with regards to mental health is Persistent Depressive Disorder. This case exhibits side effects like- chronic depression. Persistent depressive disorder is common in adolescents and persists for about two years. If managed early, it persists only for months. This case is triggered by new changes happening in the environment and body growth. No severe symptoms as it does not persist for long. Proper rest, feeding, and exercise are enough to cure this depressive case.

More so, there are cases of depression-like Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, which is caused by menstrual changes. These changes experienced in the body only persist for long. The premenstrual dysphoric disorder only exhibits symptoms like distorted sleep but only for a short period.  

From our research, we diagnosed that causes psychological stress and insomnia is rampant in adolescents that have suffered from physical assaults and self-harm. The infliction of pain- mental and physical on adolescents have caused a feeling of fear, fright, and depression in them. This feeling of pain has further affected their sleep routine. 

Also, in adults who have to deal with frustrations and panic from superiors, both NREM and REM sleep are affected. When sleep routine is affected, medical complications begin to set in. Complications include- heart disorders, anxiety, insomnia disorders, hypertension, and aggression. Sometimes this causes an imbalance in judgment-mental instability.

The myAir app provides suitable therapy to help users deal with disorders caused as a result of stress and insomnia. For excellent procedures, the app suggests series of activities and practices to help suppress insomnia. Sole purpose of the app is to ensure quality sleep in everyone through natural healthy means without harm and side effects.


There is a severe need to understand the relationship between insomnia, stress and sleep. Subjecting the body to regular stress leads to difficulty or absence of sleep- insomnia. Also, excessive consumption of alcohol and hard drugs affects the body sleep routine.  The feeling of pain and worry before sleep further contributes to the effects of insomnia disorders. 

The feeling of pain- either self-inflicted or caused by others comes with a painful sensation that increases the body stressors and reduces REM sleep. For this condition, consulting a medical expert is the best choice. However, following specific orientations from the myAir app can suppress and curb the effects in the long run.  

Further consultation with myAir app as regards worries and anxiety provides a suitable and preferable relaxation routine to help reduce worries. As implemented into the app, sometimes it suggests series of tests and activities that can help them manage the stressors and improve over time. 

Stress and Insomnia, relative to pain and worry, has a pronounced relationship with sleep. A noticeable effect of pain is insomnia and sleep deprivation. Side effects of sleep deprivation include- insomnia, hypersomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea. From our research, insomnia is expected in about 75% of the adult population with depression. 

Pain and worry contribute to sleep deprivation-insomnia. The effect of these factors-including any form of abuse, is due to a change in the role of the neurotransmitter- serotonin. Insomnia and stress disrupt the body's metabolism, circadian rhythms and increases the chances of subjecting the body to sleep reactivity disorders. 

The good news is that the myAir app uses a comprehensive approach to relieve symptoms that may help users avoid getting into a phase of insomnia. Eliminating stressors and causes of pain enables serotonin to function effectively and improves sleep hormones activity. Moreover, our evidence suggested that sleep system sensitization is directly associated with the severity of depression at the onset of insomnia disorder. 


As observed that temporal patterning of sleep problems and traumatic event exposure contribute to insomnia. The presence of sleep problems after traumatic event exposure has been linked to an increased likelihood of developing insomnia disorders. This suggests sleep problems may function, in part, to maintain post-traumatic stress instead of only being secondary to the development of PTSD. 

In addition, sleep disturbances are the most common residual symptom after successful treatment of Insomnia; insomnia treatment reduces PTSD symptoms. Treatment of a secondary symptom would not be expected to affect the more global disorder, therefore suggesting sleep may be a mechanism involved in maintaining reducing insomnia disorders.  

The underlying factors like stress that leads to insomnia should be suppressed to aid quality sleep. However, insomnia is common in patients that engage in strenuous activities and victims of abuse. A feasible way to bypass these thoughts that lead to insomnia is by using the myAir app. This application introduces therapeutic measures to subdue stress and relax the muscles. 

Also, patients suffering from insomnia are advised to consult a therapist to improve their psychological activity. Part of the measures includes relocating to an entirely different environment that possesses no traumatic event presence. A change in course will help erase memories of the painful past. 

Social interaction with new people will also help users deal with inferiority complex and stigmatization. Social activities help keep the mind relaxed and present opportunities for fun activities. These activities are safe and pose no threat- physical or mental to the body. When there is mental stability, the mind is coordinated and open to creative ideas. 

In addition, regular exercise plays a role in keeping the muscles relaxed and active. Regular exercises perform their role by improving the body muscles and proper body metabolism. An effective way to eliminate stressors is by engaging in relaxing activities. Yoga routines help distract the mind from negative thoughts and keep them coordinated. 

Abstinence from drugs and alcohol is also an effective way to deal with Insomnia. Consumption of alcohol and certain hard drugs triggers events for violence and harm. As opposed to their relaxation feeling, they trigger hyperactivity and hypersensitivity in the body. At this stage, hormones released increases body pressure making it unrelaxed for sleep. 

So far, with the aid of the myAir app, stress levels have been adequately managed and suppressed massively in a large population. Intensive follow-up on these remedial methods as suggested by the myAir app ensures ease in falling asleep and reduces anxiety and depression levels. 

On a final note, treatment methods for insomnia must be carefully practiced to avoid future complications. Consult a doctor and therapist for a check-up to prevent the build-up of stress disorders in the body. Engage in prolonged quality sleep and keep the mind relaxed always. 

Reference and Footnotes:

Original publication: Hyperarousal and sleep reactivity in insomnia: current insights

By David A Kalmbach, Andrea S Cuamatzi-CastelanChristine V Tonnu, Kieulinh Michelle TranJason R Anderson, Thomas Roth, and Christopher L Drake

Published in 2018 by PMC


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