Good sleep is a sign of good health. If you suffer from insomnia, it means
- You have difficulty falling asleep
- You wake up frequently during the night
- You have difficulty going back to sleep
- You do not feel refreshed after the sleep
These sleep problems look benign but insomnia can produce mild to severe complications on your body and mind healthwise, socially and can easily spark family issues as well.
Insomnia can make you prone to certain health-related complications. The negative effects of sleep deprivation on the body and mind can be short-term caused by acute insomnia, which can last for about a week.
Complications can be long-term if chronic insomnia, which can last for weeks, is present.
You can gauge the importance of sleep through a lab experiment conducted on mice. In that experiment, rats, which were not allowed to sleep, died within three weeks, whereas their normal life span is three years.
When the rotation of the sleep stages during the night is incomplete due to improper sleep, the body and the brain are not fit to perform optimally the next day.
Many people suffer from insomnia. The statistics are alarming today due to pressures of modern-day life and the impact of insomnia can be seen immediately even after one sleepless night.
The effects of sleepless nights can literally wreak havoc on a person vis-a-vis his health, work performance, family and relationships.
If you have insomnia, which has lasted for some time and it is affecting your health, you must seek professional help.
The symptoms alone can tell that you suffer from insomnia. But, there are professionals who specialize in sleep medicine. These sleep specialists will identify the cause of your insomnia and accordingly treat you.
What are the health complications if you suffer from insomnia?
The list is long and the impact of insomnia is seen on the brain, body and the family and social life of the person.
- The person with insomnia feels tired and fatigued during the next day due to a drop in energy levels. This is typical of insomnia.
- Generalized muscle aches prevail.
- The senses and reflexes are blunted and slow.
- Lack of sleep can lead to very painful and frequent headaches.
- Performance level drops.
- Logical reasoning suffers.
- Mentally, the ability to learn, grasp, concentrate and remember, is adversely affected because the mind becomes sluggish.
- There is a drop in stress threshold levels (cannot handle stress well).
- The person has spells of dizziness during the next day.
- There is a higher risk of accidents when driving a car or operating machinery. According to the U.S. Transportation Department, about 2, 00,000 vehicle accidents are caused by sleepy drivers every year – that is more than the accidents caused by drunken driving.
- Lack of sleep for 24 hours produces a drop of mental acuity equal to that produced by blood alcohol level of 0.1, which is more than that allowed for the legal limit for driving a vehicle.
- You will experience irritation with flare-ups and mood changes the day after a sleepless night.
- Chronic insomnia can lead to serious consequences such as depression and in extreme cases paranoia and hallucinations.
- Socialization suffers and so do relationships with family and colleagues.
- It is during sleep that body cell repair takes place and loss of sleep over time can lead to premature aging.
- Immunity system suffers making you more prone to illness and leading to delayed healing of wounds and frequent infections such as fever, cough, and cold.
- Just one night of sleeplessness can make you hungrier, making you eat more. Insomnia over time will make you gain weight and can lead to obesity.
- Chronic insomnia can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, substance abuse, and even cancer.
Social, Family, and lifestyle consequences due to insomnia
The health and social effects can seriously affect the life of an insomniac and have serious consequences like leading to a divorce due to relationship issues, loss of job due to poor performance, increased alcohol consumption to fight stress and get sleep, among other things.
Effects of insomnia on pregnancy
It is normal to expect insomnia during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, about 78% of the pregnant women experience insomnia.
There are various reasons that cause sleeping problems during pregnancy:
- The increased abdominal girth
- Back pain
- Mental apprehension of having a baby
- Frequent urination during the night and
- Hormonal changes
Insomnia is very common during pregnancy and can lead to premature delivery, increased need for cesarean sections, more labor pain, and depression.