Sleep 3 – Sleeping Problems and the Consequences

What is a sleeping problem?

What can be considered as a sleeping problem? Symptoms of insomnia (sleeping problems) are:

Sleep that doesn’t recover and comes with – difficulty of falling asleep (taking longer than 30 minutes) and/or – difficulty of sleeping a whole night (waking up during the night or too early).

Normally we distinguish between six different forms of insomnia:

Primary insomnia: Main symptoms are the difficulty of falling asleep or waking up frequently during the night. About 30 % of all people having sleeping problems have these symptoms.

Insomnia related to other psychological problems: 90 % of all people suffering from depression also have trouble with sleeping. These problems usually are the first indicators when the depression returns. About 40% of people who have some kind of phobia also suffer from sleeping problems.

Insomnia related to consumption of drugs: All common drugs have side effects on natural sleeping habits. Habitual consumption causes aggravated sleeping problems when the substance is withdrawn.

Insomnia in psychosocial stress situations: For example, trouble at work, fear of an exam, and situations of extreme exhaustion or relationship problems.

Insomnia caused by changes in rhythm: shift workers often are victims of this.

Insomnia of organic origin: sleeping problems that appear due to organic causes have to be checked by a physician. The three most frequent sleeping problems of organic origin are: a) Breathing problems during sleep b) Restless-Legs-Syndrome c) Sleeping problems due to dementia

Consequences of too little sleep

Too little sleep increases reaction time drastically, similarly to what happens with alcohol. In the United States, about 100.000 car accidents are attributed to lack of sleep every year. Sleep is important for thinking and remembering. Thinking is affected with reduced ability to concentrate, focus and solve problems. During sleep, we store in a more definite way what we learned. Sleeping problems can increase the risk to suffer from any of the following illnesses:

  • Heart diseases
  • Heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Lack of sleep reduces libido; your sex life is almost put into standby.
  • Sleep deprivation is depressing. Sleeping problems are often directly connected to depression. A study conducted in 2007 with 10000 people shows that the probability of suffering from depression is increased by a factor of five when associated with sleeping problems. Sleeping problems are often the first symptoms of depression. Sleeping problems and depression are directly connected. Sleeping problems will increase symptoms of depression and depression can cause the inability to sleep. This also means that treatment for insomnia can help with depression and vice versa.
  • Lack of sleep causes aggravated aging of the skin. Sleeping problems that stay for a longer period cause an increase in the production of stress hormones. They act on the collagen in your skin, which is responsible for elasticity and softness. Sleeping problems also reduces the number of growth hormones that are produced. We need this hormone to build muscles, have healthy skin and strong bones.
  • Lack of sleep causes memory problems.  It appears that weight is also connected to your sleep.
  • Too little sleep causes an increase in appetite. The person starts craving for fatty or sweet food or snacks.

All these are reasons to start today with taking action for a good sleep!

 

Sleep 1 – A voyage through the night

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