Dealing with Insomnia

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What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a prevalent medical condition, which has a far-reaching and a profound effect on the society as a whole and poses severe physical and psychological implications. Insomnia can affect personal and societal relationships, workplace productivity, child gearing capability and the overall quality of life. Although estimates differ, it is a generally accepted fact that more than 10% population of the U.S. is suffering from insomnia, which means that more than 20 million people have trouble sleeping or staying awake.

How It Can Affect You

An ineffective sleeping cycle can have profound daytime consequences, such as loss of motivation or decrease in the attention span, decrease in concentration, excessive fatigue, increase in sleepiness and somatic ailments such as persistent neck pain and headaches. Moreover, the composite economic burden translates into a loss of $2,280 per year, or lost wages for 11.3 days/ U.S. worker. Insomnia can translate directly into absenteeism, loss of productivity and workplace injuries and accidents. In spite of all these losses, there is no specialized diagnosis for symptomatic insomnia and due to the reason that it remains untreated and unidentified in most cases, causing a great deal of stress to its sufferer.

Why You Should Not Ignore Insomnia

Many people simply ignore insomnia and most don’t even realize that they are suffering from a medical condition. However, there are several reasons why you shouldn’t ignore insomnia. The implications and effects of insomnia can be felt in all walks of life.

1)    Older Adults Are More Likely To Suffer From Insomnia

Adults, who are prescribed with sedative-hypnotic medications to treat insomnia, have higher fall rates. This is a highlighted public health concern, which has been discussed on several platforms. A consistent decrease in personal, leisure time, or physical activity can be directly associated with insomnia symptoms in elders. Generally, in older adults, insomnia can be associated with a preexisting medical condition such as dementia, depression and anhedonia, which is the decrease in the ability to experience and feel pleasure.

2)    It Can Worsen Chronic Pain and PTSD

Moreover, individuals who have dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), at any time of their lives, have a 60-90% chance of being effected by insomnia. Most insomnia patients with combat-related PTSD have to be treated accordingly to prevent suicides and to provide necessary intervention. Chronic pain patients also have a greater chance of suffering from insomnia, as chronic pain generally coexists with insomnia. If insomnia is identified and treated at an early stage, it can drastically reduce the chances of taking opiate pain medications for treating insomnia.

3)    It Can Cause Problems in the Personal Life of the Patient

One of the most important reasons to not ignore insomnia is that individuals, who are suffering from insomnia, are four times more likely to have problems in their interpersonal relationships, as it can cause conflict, difficulty in communication and estrangement.

4)    Children, With Insomnia-Suffering Parents, Deal With Profound Emotional Issues

Another great concern, for individuals who are suffering from insomnia, is the effect of parental insomnia on children. Parents with chronic insomnia can manifest emotional problems and are more likely to have adolescent kids that are emotionally withdrawn and project negativity in their behavior and interactions. Parents with normal sleeping cycles have children that are less likely to suffer from suicidal attempts and suicidal ideation. Moreover, children who grow up with parents, with self-reporting insomnia symptoms, are more likely to have a high chance of alcohol consumption, marijuana usage, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

5)    Reaction Time and Task Performance Is Lower

Patients, who are dealing with insomnia, report substantial impairment in reaction time. Individuals, who sleep less than five hours/night, with 17 hours of wakefulness, have a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.05 with lower task performance as compared to those individuals that reported 21 hours of wakefulness. Moreover, a longitudinal analysis stated that sedative-hypnotic medication dosages have increased the all-cause death rates per year.

The Severity of Other Diseases Can Be Magnified by 

Insomnia can be disastrous for a cancer patient, who is undergoing aggressive treatments. In such cases, sleeping disorders can be debilitating. However, the condition can be improved by careful screening and treatments, improving the overall immune system functioning. In addition to that, heart or stroke patients are 45 times more likely to die of a heart attack of a stroke if they are suffering from insomnia, as compared to cardiovascular patients without any sleeping disorders.

Increase in substance abuse and alcohol consumption has also been reported in patients who are suffering from insomnia. Insufficient sleep can also be the primary cause of risk-taking behaviors like intravenous drug use. Patients suffering from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be at great risk, as insufficient sleep can result in a lower CD4 count and a higher viral load. Insomnia can also quadruple the chance of an individual of catching a common cold, as it can reduce the effect of the body’s immune system, its anatomical responsiveness and protection against influenza, mumps, rubella (MMR), hepatitis and measles.

The physical, emotional, societal and economic costs of insomnia are uncountable and numerous. The staggering loses, suffered at the hands of insomnia, can be reduced by introducing intensified efforts for screening, diagnosing and treating insomnia.