Insomnia can have “a significant negative impact on an individual’s work, physical, and social performance as well as overall quality of life” and is no doubt one of the most common forms of sleep deprivation.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) elaborates on the health effects of insomnia, explaining that “Insomnia can cause daytime sleepiness and a lack of energy. It also can make you feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. You may have trouble focusing on tasks, paying attention, learning, and remembering. These problems can prevent you from doing your best at work or school.”
“Insomnia also can cause other serious problems,” the NHLBI adds. “For example, you may feel drowsy while driving, which could lead to an accident.”
2. Sleep Apnea
If you find yourself jolting awake and feeling like you need to catch your breath, , you likely could be victim to sleep apnea. What exactly is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea typically slows and/or stops an individuals breathing while they are asleep. There are of course, various types of sleep apnea which vary in severeness. For example, ff you have obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in your throat relax too much, which narrows your airway, causing your oxygen levels to drop, the Mayo Clinic explains. If you have central sleep apnea, your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles controlling your breathing, again causing this potentially harmful drop in oxygen. Complex sleep apnea features characteristics of both conditions.
To diagnose sleep apnea, your doctor may have you do an overnight sleep study that monitors your breathing, according to the Mayo Clinic. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which is basically a mask you wear during sleep to help keep your airways open.
3. Anxiety & Depression
“Anxiety can absolutely wake you up at night,” according to Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, a physician in New York. In fact, it’s well known already that trouble sleeping is one of the most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder, which is also reinforced by the Mayo Clinic. This is mainly because individuals can experience anxiety-induced issues that are severe enough to rouse them, like an increased racing heartbeat or nightmares.
“Additionally, there are people who may experience what are called nocturnal panic attacks, meaning they may have transient episodes of intense panic that wake them up from their slumber,” Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe says.
If your anxiety regularly wakes you up, Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe recommends mentioning it to your doctor, who should be able to help you get a handle on any underlying anxiety or panic disorder at play, although doing so may involve cognitive behavioural therapy, anti-anxiety medication, or a combination of the two. “Meditation and deep-breathing exercises can also sometimes alleviate symptoms in some people,” Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe says.
4. Skin Ageing
Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lack lustre skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.
Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.
5. Weight Gain
Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite, but it also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.