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.
You awake in the middle of the night, and though you would love nothing more than to sleep, your body will not allow you. This has been a recurring problem. For the last several weeks, you feel as though you have barely slept at all. You are sluggish, anxious, and unable to concentrate. You have insomnia. Failing to seek treatment for this illness will only worsen your condition. Not only will you remain perpetually exhausted, but you will also put yourself at risk for a number of health problems.
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.
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.
Recent studies indicate that when an individual suffers from depression and from insomnia, treatment of both psychological illnesses dramatically improves the chances of healing from both. It’s common for both insomnia and depression to exist concurrently. Although experts are not sure if one causes the other, research indicates that treating both disorders can bring significant healing.
Researchers found that among those who were treated successfully for insomnia, depression was also successfully treated. In one study, the insomnia treatment included four individual sessions of psychotherapy for over eight weeks. During the sessions, participants were provided with specific instructions to manage their insomnia – establish a specific time to wake up, get up and out of bed when not sleeping but do not eat, read, or watch television, and do not take any naps during the day. The results found that nearly 90% of those who followed the instructions and who fully participated in the study saw their depression lift.
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.