Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting 6 to 10 percent of the world’s population. Despite its commonality, though, the sleep disorder often goes undiagnosed and/or untreated. One of the reasons is because insomnia is oftentimes experienced differently from person to person, and many believe that their lack is sleep is nothing serious.
In reality, not being able to sleep (for whatever reason) is enough to put anyone on edge and it can quickly cause other serious health problems such as depression, diabetes, and heart failure. If you suspect that your sleeping problems are becoming chronic, or if you have been diagnosed with insomnia, then you probably ought to know about the dangers of ignoring treatment and how insomnia can affect you long term.
Though this may change from person to person, people with insomnia generally experience:
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Very early waking hours despite when they went to sleep
A lack of restorative sleep
Daytime symptoms such as fatigue, trouble concentrating, mood disturbances, and/or memory loss.
Increased Anxiety and Depression: When you can’t sleep, inevitably, your brain cannot rest or recover. Over time, your body and your mind start to become slower, fatigued, and depressed. Your body/mind may try to fight back by putting you on high alert, which causes you to become anxious. This can quickly become a vicious cycle as anxiety and depression can actually prevent you from achieving a good night’s sleep.
Weight Gain: Lack of sleep has been found to affect your “hunger hormones,” known as leptin and ghrelin. Leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite, while ghrelin stimulates hunger. When you don’t sleep well, levels of ghrelin increase, while levels of leptin decrease. When this happens, a person may crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.
Type 2 Diabetes: With weight gain comes the risk of diabetes. Many people who have insomnia already have type 2 diabetes, but those who do not should definitely guard against it by staying conscious of their diet and exercise.
Congestive Heart Failure: Insomnia affects 10 to 15 percent of the population in the U.S. but it’s estimated to as high as 44 percent among cardiac patients. Many of the same side effects of insomnia (high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, poor circadian rhythm) can also cause cardiac problems and result in heart disease, a heart attack or stroke, and/or heart failure.
Low Testosterone/Estrogen: With low energy, sleepiness, and increased tension comes low hormone levels. This not only means a lower sex drive, but also shifts in weight, loss of muscle and bone mass, moodiness, fatigue, and more.
Insomnia is nothing to take lightly, and if you’re experiencing its symptoms, it may not be too hard to admit that treatment may be a welcome experience if it helps you return to a having a good night’s sleep. Even if your symptoms are not severe or frequent, over time a lack of sleep will threaten your health and even shorten your lifespan. Book an appointment to discuss your sleeping habits with one of our sleep specialists today.