Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that will make you lose your sleep, and it could happen in different ways. For instance, some people find it difficult to stay asleep while others find it hard to fall asleep. Both of these two scenarios are commonly linked with insomnia. If you experience any of the two situations then it is called maintenance insomnia while acute and chronic insomnia are depended on how long either of the two scenarios last. If it goes for a few days or a week then it is known as acute insomnia but if it goes for a month or longer it is known as chronic insomnia.
Stress is one of the major causes of insomnia, and it could be as a result of finances, work, family, divorce, illness, losing a loved one, and so on. While stress is a major culprit for insomnia, it might also be caused by other habits that disrupt sleep.
Poor sleep habits might also cause insomnia, such as irregular bedtimes routine, uncomfortable sleeping environment and other activities you indulge in before going to bed like eating, playing video games, or watching TV. Avoid eating too much in the evening as it makes you uncomfortable as you go to bed. Always ensure to eat at least an hour before bedtime, but if you can do it earlier, the better.
Jet lag, interrupting the body’s internal clock, changing your work schedule/shifts, bad dreams and night tremors, as well as recreational drugs are also all linked to insomnia.
How it affects your life
Insomnia will affect you in so many ways, not just your brain and mental health but also your body in general. It negatively affects your brain’s functioning and how your bodily systems work, as such you are always sluggish, your body becomes susceptible to different diseases, and you get more vulnerable to mood-related disorders. That said, below are some of the ways that insomnia affects your life.
- Depression. This is one of the most common mental disorders, which can also be caused by lack of sleep. When you are unable to sleep well or at all at night, then your body accumulates negative feelings that affect your mental health. It could also manifest as a severe occurrence of psychological disorders often linked to deteriorating memory, hallucinations, as well as paranoia. Insomnia could have severe consequences and especially pose a great risk to your mental health.
- Fatigue and sluggishness. Another common effect of insomnia is fatigue and sluggishness. For obvious reasons, if you don’t sleep and rest your body at night, then you will be tired the following day. Your body needs to rest and be allowed to produce new cells while ridding the old ones, that is why sleep is important. To top it all you are going to be less productive than usual since you will be overwhelmed with fatigue.
- Social life. Insomnia is not only going to affect your productivity at work, it is also going to affect your social life. Lack of sleep causes moodiness which will make you want to seclude yourself from the rest of the world. It can even affect your relationship since you are easily irritable, hence you will end up arguing and fighting more with your partner. And once you experience social stress, your mental burden increases resulting in more stress and anxiety.
- Impaired thinking. Sleep deprivation impairs your thinking. If your brain does not get enough time to rest and rejuvenate its energy then you are going to have a very difficult time performing the simplest of tasks. It affects your ability to concentrate and stay alert for a long time hence affecting your day-to-day activities. In fact, some studies have proven that fatigue driving is equal to drunk driving. Although it is not an automatic violation of the law compared to drunk driving where you’ll be needing the help of a dui defense attorney, it is just as dangerous, as it is responsible for at least 91,000 car crashes, and 795 deaths in 2017 according to National Highway Safety Administration.
- Reduced life expectancy. The less sleep you get, the less your life expectancy becomes. Yes, the effects of insomnia are long-term, and this includes reducing your life expectancy. Shocking enough, people who suffer from chronic insomnia have an increased risk of early death by a whopping 97%. The link between insomnia and a low life expectancy is a result of the impact it has on mental health.
Once you realise that you have insomnia, there are always different ways you could use it to combat it. So you don’t have to suffer its effects for a prolonged period of time. You can always find helpful tips for good sleep if you have been struggling with insomnia for a while. The earlier you address the problem the lower the chances of it getting worse and the better you will be positioned to avoid the many ways insomnia would have affected your life. So if you have been an insomniac for the past few nights, then ensure to get help as soon as possible.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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