While losing sleep due to a nightmare or because you drank too much caffeine is probably no cause for concern, lying awake night after night could mean you have insomnia. This sleep disorder can be frustrating and detract from your quality of life. If you routinely struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, it can adversely affect multiple areas of your health. That’s because your body needs nightly downtime to repair various organs and tissues to ensure they function properly. In observation of Sleep Awareness Week, consider these six ways insomnia impacts your well-being.
1. Heart Disease
Chronically sleep-deprived people are at a higher risk of heart disease and hypertension. Insomnia also increases your chances of experiencing a stroke, which occurs when a ruptured or clogged blood vessel interrupts the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain.
2. Compromised Immune System
Sleep is a time for your body to replace infection-fighting T-cells, which can help you ward off illnesses. Your immune system is your first and best line of defense against sickness, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to catch colds, the flu or even the COVID-19 virus.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you may be grouchy and irritable about it, making you a difficult person to be around and increasing the number of arguments you have with loved ones. The resulting social isolation could cause loneliness.
4. Reduced Life Expectancy
Research suggests people with chronic insomnia are at higher risk of an early death due to the physical and mental effects of sleep deprivation.
5. Mental Health Disorders
An inability to get restful sleep can cause your mental well-being to suffer. For example, depression is more than a bad mood – it’s a severe illness with potentially debilitating symptoms. Meanwhile, people living with anxiety may also struggle with insomnia, and vice versa. While the stigma around mental illnesses has improved, many pervasive misconceptions and complex emotions can make it more challenging for people to seek help.
6. Lost Productivity
A lack of sleep will cause slower reaction times and trouble concentrating, which could be challenging during your workday. Insomnia affects your on-the-job abilities at more than a superficial level – people with this disorder can experience productivity loss at more than double the rate of their colleagues. Without sleep, you’ll also become prone to making more mistakes, some of which could be costly or dangerous.
Insomnia and Substance Abuse
Insomnia affects your life in many ways beyond the constant drowsiness, brain fog and inability to concentrate. You could try to get through each day with help from coffee and energy drinks, but these aren’t a practical, long-term solution. As you now know, sleep deprivation can take a toll on multiple facets of your physical and mental health, including your relationships, work performance, judgment and mood, and the poor decisions you make while fatigued could have far-reaching consequences.
Desperate for sleep, many people turn to addictive substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines to help them relax and unwind. Unfortunately, a burgeoning substance use disorder will only add to your mental and physical health problems. Drugs and alcohol can also disrupt a healthy sleep cycle. Insomnia is one of the most frequent withdrawal symptoms among people who try to quit drinking and using.
Thankfully, holistic recovery at Vista Taos is within reach. Medical detox can help you get through early withdrawal and prepare you for the next treatment phases. Connect with us today to learn more.