Insomnia is more than just a bad night’s sleep. It can turn into a chronic condition that leads to many health complications. Find out all about it here.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Short-term insomnia lasts only a day or two and usually results from anxiety or stress. Chronic insomnia produces symptoms at least three times a week and lasts three months or more. Insomnia is a common condition, with symptoms affecting approximately 33-50% of the adult population; chronic insomnia associated with distress or impairment is estimated to affect from 10 to 15% of the population. At Aura Psychiatry, PLLC, board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner Farheen Makani, PMHNP-BC, and her team treat insomnia at their office in Allen, Texas. Because many people don’t know much about the disorder besides the fact that it affects sleep, they’re taking this opportunity to fill you in on some of the complications that can occur when it’s left untreated. What causes insomnia? Many things can contribute to insomnia, not all of them within your control. They include environmental, physiological, and psychological factors such as:
Stress caused by work, relationships, financial difficulties, and more
Unhealthy lifestyle due to a poor diet and/or lack of exercise
Poor sleep hygiene from not establishing a regular sleep pattern, looking at screens in bed
Mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and obsessive worrying, among others
Chronic pain such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and back or neck pain
Gastrointestinal disorders including heartburn and GERD
Hormone fluctuations from menstruation, menopause, thyroid disease, or other conditions
Medication side effects
Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome
The first three items are within your ability to control: You can change the way you respond to stress, adopt a healthy diet and exercise plan, and establish a regular sleep cycle to get the 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night you need. If you have an underlying medical condition that’s interfering with your sleep, getting that condition treated can lead to better overall sleep. Complications of insomnia More than just a bad night’s sleep, insomnia can have serious complications. Short-term insomnia makes it harder to concentrate, and can lead to irritable and/or sad feelings, as well as headaches. You also face an increased risk of falling, falling asleep while driving, and missing work. Chronic insomnia can also lead to a variety of health problems. Asthma, which narrows the airways in your lungs, can often make it hard to sleep, but studies show that when you have ongoing insomnia, your risk of developing asthma increases over time. It’s a vicious cycle. Consistent poor sleep increases your risk of heart problems that include an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and coronary heart disease. In addition, a lack of sleep also makes you less likely to exercise and more likely to make poor food choices, both of which negatively impact your heart. Your average stress level also increases. Insomnia makes you 10 times more likely to develop depression than someone who gets good-quality sleep, and it also raises your risk for anxiety and suicidal thoughts. But having depression can also cause insomnia. It’s another vicious cycle. Your blood pressure naturally decreases while you sleep, but if you get less sleep than you should, your pressure remains higher for a larger part of the day, raising your risk for heart disease and stroke. Researchers believe that lack of sleep may affect a part of the brain that controls hunger. When you’re chronically tired, you may eat more calories than you need, which leads to weight gain, a higher risk of obesity, decreased physical activity, and an increase in associated risks of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body has a harder time fighting off infection. Inadequate sleep increases inflammation, which prevents your immune system from working as well as it should. Constant inflammation is a risk factor for many health conditions. Chronic insomnia makes you more likely to become resistant to insulin and develop type 2 diabetes as a result. It’s especially true if you’re under 40, but your risk continues to increase the longer you live with insomnia. Prescription sleeping aids can help regulate your sleep cycle to allow you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Examples include:
Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist)
All of these have been approved for long-term use. If you’re having trouble falling and/or staying asleep, it’s time you came into Aura Psychiatry, PLLC for an evaluation to determine the cause of the problem and to find a solution. To get started, call our office today at 469-599-2872, or book online. We can help.