Functional connectivity of the default mode network predicts subsequent polysomnographically measured sleep in people with symptoms of insomnia

Neuroreport. 2023 Oct 4;34(14):734-740. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000001949. Epub 2023 Aug 18.


Insomnia is often accompanied by excessive pre-sleep rumination. Such ruminative thinking is also associated with increased connectivity of the default mode network (DMN). It is likely that DMN connectivity and associated rumination contribute to the pathogenesis of insomnia. We hypothesized that resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) between the DMN and other brain regions prior to bedtime would predict objectively measured sleep among individuals with insomnia. Twenty participants (12 female; M age = 26.9, SD = 6.6 years) with symptoms of insomnia underwent an rsFC scan in the early evening followed by a night of polysomographically (PSG) measured sleep. Connectivity of the DMN with other brain regions was regressed against several PSG sleep metrics, including time in wake, N1, N2, N3, REM, total sleep time (TST), and sleep efficiency (SE) at a cluster corrected false discovery rate (FDR) correction P < 0.05. The connectivity between DMN and cortical regions was negatively correlated with PSG indices of poorer sleep including time in wake (right angular gyrus) and N1 (precuneus) but positively correlated with time in REM (orbitofrontal cortex), TST (insula, orbitofrontal cortex, superior frontal gyrus, paracingulate gyrus), SE (orbitofrontal cortex). Connectivity between DMN and the pons was negatively correlated with SE. Among individuals with symptoms of insomnia, better sleep was predicted by rsFC between the DMN and cortical regions involved in executive functioning, consciousness, and complex cognition. Findings raise the possibility that future interventions aimed at suppressing pre-sleep DMN activation may weaken synergy between pre-sleep ruminative worry and complex cognitions, potentially ameliorating problems falling asleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Connectome*
  • Default Mode Network* / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / diagnostic imaging
  • Wakefulness
  • Young Adult