Why do I fall asleep when I’m bored?

According to a 2017 Japenese-Chinese study, the part of the brain associated with motivation and pleasure, the nucleus accumbens, also can produce sleep. Much like we may forgo sleep when engaged in something, the study poses the possibility that the opposite may be true when we are bored. “As humans, we often defy sleepiness and stay awake when attention is necessary, but also experience an inescapable desire to sleep in boring situations,” explain the researchers. “The brain mechanisms governing the regulation of sleep by cognitive and emotional factors are not well understood.”

This is an issue definitely being studied by researchers, including this 2015 French study and this 2013 Canadian study. Both echo the difficulty of fully understanding the relationship between ADHD and sleep issues, particularly daytime sleepiness. “The links between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorders remain unclear,” explains the French researchers. “ It may thus be difficult for clinicians to differentiate the diagnosis of ADHD comorbid with a sleep disorder from sleep disorders with ADHD-like symptoms. This distinction could be important for the appropriate management of patients with dual complaints of trouble maintaining attention and daytime sleepiness.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26122671
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23643650

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