Early-life origin of adult insomnia: Does prenatal-early-life stress play a role?

Palagini, L., Drake, C. L., Gehrman, P., Meerlo, P. & Riemann, D., Apr-2015, In : Sleep Medicine. 16, 4, p. 446-456 11 p.

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  • Early-life origin of adult insomnia Does prenatal-early-life stress play a role

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  • Laura Palagini
  • Christopher L Drake
  • Philip Gehrman
  • Peter Meerlo
  • Dieter Riemann

Insomnia is very common in the adult population and it includes a wide spectrum of sequelae, that is, neuroendocrine and cardiovascular alterations as well as psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. According to the conceptualization of insomnia in the context of the 3-P model, the importance of predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors has been stressed. Predisposing factors are present before insomnia is manifested and they are hypothesized to interact with precipitating factors, such as environmental stressful events, contributing to the onset of insomnia. Understanding the early-life origins of insomnia may be particularly useful in order to prevent and treat this costly phenomenon. Based on recent evidence, prenatal-early-life stress exposure results in a series of responses that involve the stress system in the child and could persist into adulthood. This may encompass an activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis accompanied by long-lasting modifications in stress reactivity. Furthermore, early-life stress exposure might play an important role in predisposing to a vulnerability to hyperarousal reactions to negative life events in the adult contributing to the development of chronic insomnia. Epigenetic mechanisms may also be involved in the development of maladaptive stress responses in the newborn, ultimately predisposing to develop a variety of (psycho-) pathological states in adult life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-456
Number of pages11
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2015

ID: 17576559