People’s quality of life heavily depends on the extent to which the essential needs of the human body are fulfilled. It is known that eating disorders present conditions that are associated with significant health risks as proper nutrition acts as a key to good health. Similarly to them, the presence of sleep disorders can affect the proper functioning of the human body. The paper studies the impact that the symptoms of insomnia have on physical and mental health.
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Insomnia and Its Causes
Insomnia belongs to the number of the most common sleep disorders in the world. Individuals who suffer from insomnia face a great number of unwanted health effects because it is sleep that can heal the human body naturally. The life of people who have insomnia changes completely as the condition is characterized by the presence of numerous symptoms that make everyday life a real problem. Among other things, these symptoms include the inability to keep to a regular sleep schedule, waking up at night with a headache or other negative sensations, and the inability to stay asleep as long as needed (Taylor et al. 2).
In reference to the causes of insomnia, it is known that many cases of this disorder occur due to the impact of other health issues or even essential processes such as aging. The impact of age on the development of insomnia has been widely discussed; for instance, early childhood and late adulthood are associated with significant disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle (Taylor et al. 11). Other factors that increase the risks of insomnia include an increased consumption of coffee, alcoholic beverages, medicinal drugs, or illegal drugs. Apart from that, the development of this sleep disorder often relates to the necessity to change sleep habits. For instance, having evening or night shifts disrupts the essential sleep cycle of many people. In general, there are a great number of reasons that contribute to the development of insomnia, and many of them are linked to injuries. Insomnia is not always connected to age-related changes; along with bilious blind headache, it is among common long-term consequences of concussion of the brain and other brain injuries (Taylor et al. 12). Therefore, common causes of insomnia include injuries, various diseases, and the misuse of drugs and alcohol; apart from that, the instability of sleep often occurs in people from specific age groups.
Insomnia and How It Impacts Physical Health
Insomnia has a detrimental impact on human health, significantly decreasing the quality of life. The disorder increases the risks of numerous diseases related to the malfunctioning of different body systems. Speaking about the most obvious health effects of insomnia, it is necessary to say that a lack of sleep often contributes to the development of obesity (Chan et al. 1). For the human body, sleep acts as a process that helps to recharge energies and balance hormones naturally. At the same time, a lack of sleep is recognized by the human body as an additional stress factor, and this is why the effects of insomnia are detrimental to perfect hormone balance and can cause metabolic disturbance.
Based on the results of their systematic review, Chan et al. prove that there is an obvious link between the symptoms of insomnia and having an abnormal body mass index (2). Having reviewed the most recent studies in the field, the authors came to the conclusion that people suffering from insomnia often have weight problems. Despite the heterogeneity of research results, the presence of insomnia increases the risks of obesity in various populations.
Insomnia is also known as the problem that affects the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system in people of different age. It follows from statistical data collected by modern researchers in the field that almost a half of cardiac patients in the United States have been diagnosed with insomnia (Edwards and Hoover). At the same time, the prevalence of the discussed condition in the entire population does not exceed fifteen percent. The most recent studies show that the link between insomnia and cardiovascular risks exists in people from various cultures. For example, the studies conducted in Taiwan indicate that the incidence of cerebral accidents and acute myocardial infarction is higher in adult people diagnosed with insomnia (Edwards and Hoover).
When speaking about these detrimental health effects of the discussed condition, one should understand that they usually present long-term conditions that develop a few years after diagnosis. There are a great number of underresearched topics related to the link between insomnia and cardiovascular disease. However, some statements concerning the short-term effects of the condition are supported by strong evidence. Thus, it is known that sleep deprivation immediately causes hypertension and, therefore, the cases of a severe headache and abnormal heart rhythm are common in individuals with insomnia (Edwards and Hoover).
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Mental Health Risks Associated with Insomnia
In addition to physiological problems, insomnia is associated with significant mental health risks. Nowadays, there is no conclusive proof indicating that insomnia is a significant factor that causes mental health issues. Instead, the presence and the degree of sleep deprivation are factors that are often responsible for the exacerbation of mental illness. As it follows from the evidence reported by modern researchers, depression, being one of the most common mental disorders in the world, is strongly associated with the presence of insomnia (Li et al. 1). Interestingly, the most reported symptoms of insomnia and depression are quite similar. The presence of both insomnia and clinical depression manifests itself in problematic attention focusing, fatigue, increased irritability, and a low tolerance for stress (Ashworth et al. 115). The review conducted by Li et al. proves that clinical depression develops in patients who have insomnia more than twice as frequently as in patients with no sleep disorders (1). Thus, the risks of developing depression are extremely significant for individuals who report the presence of insomnia.
The impact of insomnia on mental health is also manifested in increased risks of psychosis. It is known that the majority of patients with schizophrenia have sleep problems; apart from that, the occurrence of new psychotic episodes in people with mental illness is also predicted by sleep problems (Birchwood 950). In many cases, sleep deprivation is not regarded as an independent cause of mental disease. However, the detrimental impact of its symptoms on psychological well-being remains obvious.
In the end, insomnia is a sleep disorder that has a detrimental impact on physical and mental health. In reference to physical symptoms, the various effects of insomnia are presented by abnormal blood pressure, heart beat disorders, and headache. As for its long-term effects, it also increases the risks of stroke. Given that sleep deprivation causes metabolic disorders, insomnia can contribute to the development of obesity. When it comes to mental health, insomnia is the disorder that is strictly interconnected with clinical depression and psychosis. Thus, proper sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
Ashworth, Damon K., et al. “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia: An Effective Treatment for Comorbid Insomnia and Depression.” Journal of Counseling Psychology, vol. 62, no. 2, 2015, pp. 115-123.
Birchwood, Max. “Knitting Up the Ravelled Sleeve of Care: Sleep and Psychosis.” The Lancet Psychiatry, vol. 2, no. 11, 2015, pp. 950-951.
Chan, Wai Sze, et al. “A Meta-Analysis of Associations between Obesity and Insomnia Diagnosis and Symptoms.” Sleep Medicine Reviews, 2017, pp. 1-37, Web.
Edwards, Katharine S., and Valerie Hoover. “Insomnia and Heart Disease.” American College of Cardiology, Web.
Li, Liqing, et al. “Insomnia and the Risk of Depression: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies.” BMC Psychiatry, vol. 16, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-16.
Taylor, Daniel, et al. Handbook of Insomnia. Springer Healthcare, 2014.