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Seen At 11: Insomnia May Be A 24-Hour Condition, Research Shows

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia, but now there's evidence that shows it might not just be a nighttime problem.

As CBS 2's Maurice DuBois reported, researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore have found insomnia might actually be an around-the-clock condition.

The study found insomniacs' brains are different, and those differences may help doctors treat the condition more successfully.

"What this research suggests is that even during the day, people with insomnia, their brains are in a hyper-arousal state," said Dr. Carl Brazil, director of the sleep center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. "They're on edge more than other people.

"They may need more in terms of things like exercise, meditation, to train your brain to calm down when you need to," Brazil said.

More than 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia. It's a complicated sleep disorder to treat because the cause can be hard to pinpoint, said Dr. Rachel Salas, who specializes in sleep medicine at Johns Hopkins.

Depression, anxiety, chronic stress and pain have all been blamed for insomnia.

Sheila Fitzpatrick is among those who suffer from insomnia. She's been unable to fall asleep most nights for the past 15 years and said she dreads climbing into bed at night.

"I was in despair, really," she said.

She isn't alone. Some insomniacs have even taken to YouTube.

"Somebody out there, please help me to sleep," one sufferer says in a video.

"I can't sleep," another insomniac says. "I have not been able to sleep forever."

Brazil said the discovery from the new research is significant because it also shows insomniacs' brains are more active.

"It kind of validates what I've told a lot of people with insomnia -- that they're very successful, they're very good at what they do, they have very high-powered brains."

Researchers also found more "excitability" in a certain part of an insomniac's brain, which contributes to a constant state of heightened information processing that may interfere with sleep.

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