Adult Insomnia and Childhood Sexual Abuse

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New clinical research at the Boston University Medical Center suggests that a pattern of adult insomnia may be related to a history of childhood sexual abuse. Unexplainable lifelong insomnia is usually attributed to a neurological abnormality, according to sleep disorders specialist Sanford Auerbach, M.D., but he found that in nine of his patients insomnia was tied to previous sexual abuse. After these patients relaxed and were ready to sleep they experienced feelings of fear, anxiety and tension, which disrupted the sleep-wake transition. During periods of low stress, such as vacations, their symptoms actually worsened, instead of remaining the same or improving. Ultimately, Auerbach says, the only real treatment for insomnia in these patients is treatment of the underlying problem.

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