With a few exceptions, adults do best with seven to eight hours of sleep every 24 hours. This number is higher for teens, young children, and infants for a variety of reasons, most of which are related to the work your body does while you’re sleeping.
How your body uses sleep
Contrary to what you may believe, your body does not shut down once you nod off. It uses the quiet to restore and rejuvenate. Your brain, for instance, shifts short-term memories of the day into long-term storage while other body systems get to work growing muscle, repairing tissue, and synthesizing hormones.
Most people can expect to have trouble sleeping now and then due to stress, travel, or even excitement over an upcoming event. You may feel fuzzy mentally and have difficulty performing routine tasks after a sleepless night, but these are temporary symptoms that typically resolve quickly once you get back into a regular, healthy sleep pattern.
But when your sleeplessness lasts for days, weeks, or months -- sometimes even years -- it can greatly affect your physical and emotional health.
Insomnia and your mental health
Insomnia often leads to frustration over the condition itself. It can also cause significant irritation when you’re too tired to cope with even easily-remedied problems, such as reprinting a misplaced report. This can understandably create issues with your relationships and impair your ability to keep up with your responsibilities at home, school, or work.
Insomnia is also known to increase your risk of developing:
- Memory issues and difficulty focusing
Insomnia and risks to your physical health
Along with significant mental health issues, untreated insomnia is also known to increase your risk of stroke and seizures. Other serious medical conditions that you’re at increased risk of developing when you have insomnia include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Insomnia may also:
- Affect your sex drive
- Interfere with your judgment
- Increase your risk of injury due to accidents
- Shorten your life expectancy
Insomnia can increase the frequency and severity of asthma attacks, weaken your immune system, and increase your sensitivity to pain. It’s also known to play a role in obesity, as well as chronic inflammation, which can cause damage to your heart and other vital organs.
Identifying your brand of insomnia
We’re known as insomnia specialists here at Rose City Urgent Care & Family Practice. Many successful treatments exist for insomnia, and our care strategy relies on what’s causing your sleeplessness. Your first visit for insomnia includes a thorough physical exam and detailed discussion regarding your sleep patterns, life stressors, and the nature of your sleep difficulty.
Insomnia is a general term that can include problems getting to sleep (onset insomnia) or sleeping through the night (maintenance insomnia). For you, it may be more about the quality of your sleep. You might close your eyes on time and open them when the alarm clock sounds but not feel rested, let alone recharged.
We also categorize it as:
- Acute insomnia, which lasts days or weeks
- Chronic insomnia, when it lasts a month or longer
- Comorbid insomnia, which occurs in tandem with another disorder such as sleep apnea
We have many effective options for treating your insomnia and focus on those that offer lasting results, including:
- Lifestyle changes, such as exercising early in the day so it doesn’t interfere with sleep
- Addressing medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, which may be preventing restful sleep
- Reinforcing healthy eating habits, especially before bed, that foster rather than hinder sleep
- Relaxation training that helps relieve stress
- Light therapy and stimulus control
- Restoring a regular bedtime schedule
We may also use cognitive behavioral therapy to help you combat negative thoughts about sleep or fear that you might not be able to sleep, which is often an issue for chronic insomnia sufferers whose worry over not being able to sleep keeps them awake.
Regardless of what’s driving your insomnia, we can help. Call today for an appointment or book your visit online.