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Insomnia, How it Affects Health

Insomnia

Insomnia

If you are one of the people afflicted with this sleep disorder, there may be more options for treatment or medication than you previously realized. However, increased research has shown NHANES data in the United States showed that short sleepers, generally defined as those who sleep less than seven hours a night, consume a smaller variety of foods, with lower protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and fat intakes relative to normal sleepers of seven to eight hours a night (Mikic et al., 2016).  With certain symptoms and causes, insomnia is a sleeping disorder where people have trouble falling and staying asleep.

Types of Insomnia

Acute insomnia is a brief period of sleep difficulty.

Causes:

  • important life event, such as losing a loved one,
  • stress from the patient’s career or job, ending of relationships, or travel.

Typically these episodes do not last longer than a week, after which the patient’s sleeping schedule should return to normal.

Chronic insomnia is a different situation entirely.

Causes:

  • Previous difficulties sleeping in the past
  • Acid reflux
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Body aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Also, there are a wide variety of treatment possibilities for those who tend to suffer from it. Sleeplessness is a constant battle for those who suffer from this type of sleeplessness and medication is often prescribed to these patients who need help falling and/or staying asleep.

Comorbid insomnia is sleeplessness that is caused by a separate, underlying condition.

Causes:

  • Psychiatric (such as anxiety or depression)
  • Physical ailments (arthritis, back pain, sciatic nerve pain, etc.)

Therefore, the patient cannot lie comfortably in bed.

Onset insomnia is not characterized by the length of its symptoms, but when the patient is attempting to go to sleep for the first time during the night. This type of sleeplessness can be further classified as chronic or acute onset insomnia. This is just a more thorough way of addressing the needs of the patient, by including more information in the name of the disorder.

Maintenance insomnia is just like onset insomnia, except it allows doctors to give a more thorough critical name for a patient’s sleeplessness. However, this refers to patients who have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

  • Drowsiness
  • Mood Changes(including depression and anxiety)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Weight Gain
  • Poor Balance/Coordination
  • Increased Risk of Heart Disease
  • Increased Risk for Diabetes
  • Low Sex Drive
  • Memory Loss
Health, Diet & Exercise

Sedentary lifestyle can also be an important factor for evaluating someone’s insomnia. If the patient gets little exercise, he or she is not expending all the energy that their body is producing during the day. For this reason, some doctors recommend patients increase their exercise regimen with low-intensity exercises. However, this can have an adverse effect if the patient exercises late at night, as exercise produces adrenaline, a natural energy giving hormone found in your body.

On dieting and nutrition, patients experiencing sleeplessness should try to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the afternoon or evening. The alertness granted by coffees, sodas, teas, and energy drinks are designed to give you energy, making them something to avoid before bed. Nicotine, found in cigarettes and other tobacco products, should also be avoided for patients hoping to alleviate their sleeplessness. Heavy meals late at night can create issues with trying to fall asleep, as your body gains energy by digesting the meal.

Summary

Having an irregular sleeping schedule can increase your risk of developing chronic or acute insomnia. in terms of sleep hygiene, Your body is made to be active while the sun is up and sleep while the sun is down, but this function is not advantageous with the needs of modern society. If you are a shift worker, meaning you have irregular work hours, this may be a primary cause for your sleeplessness. Additionally, working late in the evening after getting up at a regular time in the morning can cause your brain to run late into the night causing it to avoid shutting down for sleep. Finally, afternoon naps can be a large contributor to nighttime insomnia. While naps may help some patients, it can prevent others from falling asleep late into the night.

References:

Mikic, A. M., Pietrolungo, C. E. P., & St. Onge, M. P. S. O. (2016, September 7). National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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