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BACKGROUND: Dissociative disorders encompass a range of symptoms varying from severe absent-mindedness and memory problems to confusion about one's own identity. Recent studies suggest that these symptoms may be the by-products of a labile sleep-wake cycle. METHODS: In the current study, we explored this issue in patients suffering from insomnia (N=46). We investigated whether these patients have raised levels of dissociative symptoms and whether these are related to objective sleep parameters. Patients stayed for at least one night in a specialized sleep clinic, while sleep EEG data were obtained. In addition, they completed self-report measures on dissociative symptoms, psychological problems, and sleep characteristics. RESULTS: Dissociative symptom levels were elevated in patients suffering from insomnia, and were correlated with unusual sleep experiences and poor sleep quality. Longer REM sleep periods and less time spent awake during the night were predictive of dissociation. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to show that insomnia patients have raised dissociative symptom levels and that their dissociative symptoms are related to objective EEG parameters. These findings are important because they may inspire sleep-related treatment methods for dissociative disorders.