Look around your bedroom, and it is likely that you will see a wide assortment of technology, such as a television, cell phone, computer, or tablet. All of these devices can be incredibly convenient and fun, but technology can actually have a negative effect on your sleep. The more gadgets you have in your room, the more disrupted your sleep is likely to be. A lack of sleep can cause an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes, as well as exacerbate existing issues such as depression and anxiety, and increase feelings of stress. Because of this, it is pivotal to get all those devices out of your room if you would like to get a good night’s sleep.
It’s not easy when you can’t sleep. You’re tired during the day. You’re feeling irritable and easily frustrated because the fatigue is starting to get to you. You know that not being able to sleep at night is getting in the way of your work performance from time to time. It’s getting in the way of your family life too by having to take naps when you could be spending time with your children.
Insomnia might also be challenging because you can’t ever get on a sleep schedule that works for you. You sleep a few hours at night, not enough to feel rested, and then a nap whenever you can fit it in during the day. Together, the two leave you feeling very tired and perhaps even anxious.
There is more and more research that indicates a healthy brain plays an essential role in mental health, including one’s ability to sleep. Research has led to advancements in treating depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other psychological illnesses. For instance, researchers are beginning to see that the shapes of certain parts of the brain are different among those who have Bipolar Disorder, for instance, versus those who don’t. Another example is the way that the amygdala functions differently in those that have mental illness. There are four parts of the brain that significant in research and have their influence on mental health.
Two of these four parts of the brain play a significant role in alertness and one’s ability to fall asleep. The thalamus and hypothalamus are small but significant. They regulate important levels of functioning, such as sleep and body temperature. The thalamus is responsible for the messages received by the senses and then delivers it to the cerebral hemispheres for processing. It is also responsible for our experience of consciousness, sleep, and alertness. The hypothalamus regulates temperature, hunger, thirst, and energy cycles.
When our bodies are physically tired, it’s more likely to fall right into sleep when it comes to bedtime. For instance, sleep specialist Mohammad Hasin agrees that “to ensure good sleep, it’s important that you tire your body out.” He suggests to exercise shortly before going to sleep, whether that’s running, cycling, or going for a brisk walk. The energy spent during the physical exercise can facilitate feeling fatigued enough to sleep. Furthermore, gym instructor Meghna Raju commented, “I’ve advised my clients to go for a jog in the evening, just before their dinner. This way, they feel relaxed and are also too tired to sit up in the night or indulge in other activities.” Exercise is a great way to keep the active mind at bay, which can get in the way of trying to fall asleep. By spending your energy physically, you create enough fatigue to fall asleep.
Getting enough sleep is an essential part to emotional, psychological, and physical health. In fact, a common question that mental health professionals ask their clients is whether or not they are getting enough sleep. Because without it, experiences such as depression and anxiety can become exacerbated.
Not only that, lack of sleep can lead to severe health concerns. Without sleep, an individual can experience daytime fatigue, tiredness, drowsiness, trouble concentrating during the day, trouble remembering things, jitteriness, inability to accomplish simple tasks, impaired relationships with friends and family, unusual sleep episodes, depression, and even involvement in car accidents. These symptoms are an indication that there might be a lack of sleep.
There’s no question that stress is one of the biggest contributors to insomnia. However, there are many factors that can contribute to an experience of insomnia. Medication, physical illness, or simply drinking too much caffeine during the day can lead to not being able to sleep. Yet, for many, insomnia can be the result of anxiety, depression, and in general a very active mind.
Of course, the mind becomes more and more active when there is psychological and physical threats and danger, and this is often true for both partners involved in domestic violence. Both the aggressor and the victim can experience the violence between them as traumatic. An experience that is considered traumatic is one that threatens the injury, death, or physical integrity, and is usually accompanied by terror and helplessness. A traumatic event could be the death of a friend or family member, sexual or physical abuse, an automobile accident, school violence, experiences of war, the effects of natural disasters, and acts of terrorism. It can include many types of violent experiences, including domestic violence. As a result of experiencing such an intense ordeal, along with feeling powerless to do anything about it, psychological symptoms often result, one of which is insomnia.
Most people who don’t get enough sleep are usually irritable, grumpy, or even angry throughout the day. And in fact, without enough sleep, mental and physical ability change getting worse and worse with the longer an individual has been awake. After 17 hours of no sleep, cognitive ability drops to a point that is similar to having a blood alcohol level of .05 (characterized by impaired judgment and coordination). After 24 hours of no sleep, it’s practically like being legally drunk. Over time a chronic lack of shut-eye makes you more prone to accidents, depression, and anxiety.
However, more and more experts are recognizing what’s called “short sleepers”, people who don’t need more than four or five hours per night. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours to feel rested and rejuvenated throughout the day. True “short sleepers” are rare, according to sleep specialist Carol Ash, DO, a member of the Ladies Home Journal Medical Advisory Board. “Only a tiny percentage of people can function well with that little [sleep],” she says.
If you’re experiencing insomnia and your getting anxious about it, the whole situation can become a vicious cycle. You try to go to sleep but you can’t, so you start to worry about the fatigue you’re going to feel tomorrow. You start to worry about not being able to fall asleep. But the more you worry, the more you can’t sleep, and the more you can’t sleep, the more you worry.
So, one thing to do is to neutralize the anxiety before you go to bed. But first let’s explore what insomnia is. Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It’s the experience of either not being able to fall asleep or it’s an inability to stay asleep as long as you would like. For instance, you might fall asleep and then wake up at 4am every morning. You might not be able to get a healthy 8 or 9 hours of sleep.
Sleep is a vital component of good health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to disease and illness, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) points out that the lack of sleep actually contributes to the onset of these illnesses, not just that they contribute to ill health once a person has a disease.
The medical community recognizes that there are two forms of insomnia. Primary insomnia is when a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem. Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as asthma, depression, anxiety, arthritis, cancer, pain in the body, or substance abuse. Lack of sleep might also happen because of necessary medication for another illness.
The following will explore the diseases mentioned here in order to shed light on the physical and mental illnesses associated with insomnia.