Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, and approximately 33% of those diagnosed have it on a long-term basis. Because of its prevalence, people suffering from insomnia may dismiss their symptoms as “annoying but normal” and fail to address them. However, insomnia is a serious problem that can significantly impact a person’s day-to-day life, particularly their mental health.
Untreated insomnia has several negative mental health consequences, including increased mood instability, stress, and the exacerbation of pre-existing mental illnesses. In addition, such effects can cause a great deal of tension and unfavorable outcomes in a person’s interpersonal relationships, work, and overall quality of life. This article will tell you more about the effects of insomnia on your health.
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Chronic Sleep Deprivation Vs. Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes difficulty falling and staying asleep. It can be long-term (chronic) or short-term (acute). Acute insomnia can last for a single night or several weeks. Chronic insomnia occurs for three months or longer, at least three nights per week.
Sleep deprivation and insomnia are related but not the same thing. When you try to sleep but fail, you experience insomnia. Sleep deprivation occurs when you do not allow yourself enough time to sleep, do not get enough sleep, or both. So, while people with insomnia struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get enough restful sleep even when they have such an opportunity, those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation get such problems because of prolonged sleep restrictions or external causes.
What Causes Insomnia?
Many factors, including environmental, physiological, and psychological ones, can contribute to insomnia, including:
- Job, relationship, financial difficulties, and other life stressors.
- Unhealthy eating and sleeping habits.
- Anxiety disorders, depression, or other issues with mental health.
- Cancer and other chronic diseases.
- Chronic pain caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other diseases.
- Heartburn and other gastrointestinal issues.
- Hormone fluctuations caused by menstruation, menopause, thyroid disease, or other factors.
- Some medications, as well as other substances.
- Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as examples of neurological disorders.
Consequences of Insomnia on Mental Health
Insomnia can be a symptom of psychiatric disorders. However, it is now known that sleep problems can also contribute to the onset and worsening of various mental health issues: anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation.
Insomnia frequently leads to frustration with the condition. It can also aggravate when you’re too tired to deal with even minor issues, such as reprinting a misplaced report. This can understandably strain your relationships and impair your ability to meet home, school, or work obligations.
Effects of lack of sleep have also been linked to an increased risk of developing:
- Memory problems and difficulty concentrating.
- Brain fog.
- Mood problems.
- Behavior changes such as emotional outbursts.
- Perceptual changes such as illusions and hallucinations.
Does lack of sleep cause strain on your mental health? Get help from mental health experts.
Insomnia Effects on the Body
In addition to severe mental health issues, untreated insomnia has been linked to an increased risk of physical problems. This is because your body requires sleep to regenerate specific systems and processes, and lack of sleep can exacerbate existing health conditions.
Sleep deprivation hurts your entire body. Long-term lack of sleep can impact the following body systems, organs, and processes:
- It harms your heart and circulatory health in the long run.
- If you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s immune system cannot function properly.
- Chronic sleep deprivation puts people at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have increased pain sensitivity, which means they feel pain more easily, the pain is more intense, or both.
- Sleep deprivation harms your brain functioning.
3 Ways to Manage Insomnia
Short-term insomnia frequently resolves on its own or through certain changes in your lifestyle and diet. However, your healthcare provider may recommend the following for chronic insomnia:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I is a brief, structured intervention that helps you identify and replace sleep-inducing thoughts and behaviors with sleep-promoting habits. CBT-I, as opposed to sleeping pills, assists you in overcoming the underlying causes of your insomnia.
- Medications. Long-term sleep improvement is achieved through behavioral and lifestyle changes. Usually, doctors advise taking sleep medications only on occasion or for a limited time. They are not the first choice for chronic insomnia treatment.
- Lifestyle changes. The following are the most effective ways to manage and prevent sleep deprivation:
- Maintain a bedtime routine. Consistency in sleep habits can significantly affect how much and how well you sleep.
- Limit your exposure to bright lights and electronic devices at night.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or eating a meal too close to bedtime.
- Stay active: even simple activities like going for a walk can improve the quality of your sleep.
Because insomnia can occur for various reasons, there is no single cure. Still, it can be treated effectively if you define its cause and get an individual treatment plan.
Untreated insomnia can lead to serious, even life-threatening complications. Your healthcare provider is the best person to explain your situation’s potential or likely complications or side effects. At the EZCare Clinic, we have insomnia specialists who can assist you with overcoming your symptoms, so book an appointment today.