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Harmful Health Effects of Insomnia

Harmful Health Effects of Insomnia
By Aurora McCausland

Do you have a hard time falling asleep at night? Tossing and turning for hours, before finally drifting off to sleep? Or even restless and wakeful sleep all night long, leaving you up earlier than you’d like, feeling exhausted and drained of energy all day long? These are all telltale signs of insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is habitual sleeplessness or inability to sleep. Often, it’s a chronic problem, resulting in months to years of poor sleep habits that you don’t have any control over to change. In order to find relief from insomnia, it’s best to see your doctor and explain your symptoms to them. There are things you can take, as well as exercises you can try, such as breathing exercises, that can aid you in falling asleep at night. Your doctor may even refer you to a sleeping specialist, to get you the help you need to restore you to a schedule with a full night of sleep every single night.

How insomnia affects brain chemistry

When you aren’t sleeping on a regular schedule, or even just aren’t getting enough sleep every night, your circadian rhythm gets off track. Your circadian rhythm is what dictates your sleep schedule, aids in proper REM cycles, and gives your body the sense of difference between night and day. It makes you tired when it’s dark, and helps you wake up once you’ve had adequate rest. Having insomnia can make it hard to heal other areas of your mental wellbeing, because your brain chemistry is off. Insomnia can also spur other mental disorders, even if you’ve never struggled with one before the insomnia. The lack of sleep can cause these disorders to spiral out of control, and can often cause people to self medicate, which can be very dangerous.

Effects of insomnia

Recent studies have shown that people with insomnia may struggle with their short term memory, as their brain struggles to activate those areas of the brain. These studies and tests show that insomnia is not just a problem falling asleep or getting adequate amounts of sleep at night, but it’s also that their brains are not functioning as efficiently during the day as they should be. The more severe the case of insomnia is, the more the levels of brain activity seem to be lessened when they shouldn’t be. If you’ve ever had a sleepless night, and then have a hard time recalling moments and memories from the day before, or specific details, then you can understand how this chronic lack of sleep would affect your daily life and the way that you function.

How to prevent insomnia

If you currently struggle with insomnia, or you’re looking to take steps to prevent insomnia from creeping into your life and nightly routine, here are a few things you can do to prevent insomnia or lessen the effects of insomnia.

  • Don’t drink caffeine in the late afternoon or evening. A good rule of thumb is to not drink anything caffeinated after 3 pm
  • Keep distractions out of your bedroom in the evening, so you won’t have anything to keep you awake. No phone, laptop, tv, or books.
  • Be physical shortly before you go to bed, to tire you out. Do a workout, or even just go on a walk.
  • No matter the day of the week, go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time. This will signal to your body to start getting tired at the right time, if you climb into bed at the same time consistently.
  • Practice breathing and relaxing exercises before going to bed every night. Try stretches, yoga, meditating, or just laying back with your eyes closed and breathing very deeply. This guest post is brought to you by Christine Hill.
    Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in any form. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon. She blogs about marketing here. Follow more of her writing on Twitter @readwritechill. #ChristineHill #Insomnia #AuroraMcCausland

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